[texbirds] Highland Mall Purple Martin roost in the a.m.

  • From: "LMarkoff" <canyoneaglej@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <texbirds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2012 18:58:09 -0500

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Hi Texbirds,

For several years I have been telling a friend from out-of-state about the
fantastic Purple Martin roost at Highland Mall (Austin).  When I told him
that, per Jake McCumber, there are about 600,000 Purple Martins this year,
he decided to come and see them for himself.  We visited on Friday and
Saturday evenings, as well as Saturday morning.  I have long wanted to see
the morning show but haven't felt comfortable doing it myself.  With my
visiting-friend for company I took the opportunity.  

We got there at 5:00am.  I was surprised to find that the birds were as
restless and noisy as they were when we left the roost the previous night at
about 9:15.  I had expected the birds to be quieter and settled snug in the
trees.  But no, they were a bustling cosmos of chatter and wing-noise.  With
the hubbub I witnessed I wondered...do these birds actually sleep?  

With his science background my friend is accustomed to keeping detailed
notes.  I am including his report here to give you a better idea of what the
birds were doing on Saturday morning:

#####################################

0500 hrs - our arrival on site, PUMA were noisy but not moving
 
0515 hrs - PUMA began shifting between roost trees, especially toward the
southernmost roost trees, did not appear to be leaving, but our only light
was street lights, so we couldn't be sure of birds leaving or not

0615 hrs - first large wave of PUMA departed roost trees and circled over
the parking lot, ca. half continued away from roost to the SE, the rest came
back to roost

0635 hrs - 2nd large wave repeated the above departure pattern, but birds
were almost constantly streaming away from the southernmost roost trees

0645 hrs - another large wave, same pattern

0652 hrs - one leucistic/albino PUMA was seen as another wave began forming
above the trees at Wells Fargo

0655 hrs - we thought most birds were gone, maybe 50 remained?

0700 hrs - city bus pulled up to a bus stop and the braking sound pushed
several more hundred birds into flight that we hadn't known were still on
the roost, basically quiet after this, so off we went.  The morning
departure was quite a different experience than the evening coming-to-roost
show, neither of which I'll ever forget!

########################################################


Lori Markoff
southwest Austin


   








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