Notes from the Naturalist: Purple Martins

The Inn is open year-round, but not our Purple Martin houses. They have been lowered for the winter and cleaned out.

Don’t worry about the birds though—they are long gone. Purple Martins are one of the first species to migrate. Come mid-August, their chicks are reared and the birds are on their way to South America for the winter. It’s always surprising when, in the height of the summer season, you notice the fall migration underway!

During the fall and winter, guests often wonder why the houses are lowered from their original 14-foot height. Once each of the 14 individual units in each house has been cleaned, I leave the houses lowered to reduce wear and tear on the assembly. In a big wind, the heavy steel house boxes can really torque the tall poles.

Next spring, we will raise the boxes in April and wait for the same nesting birds to return. Typically the established birds return first, followed some weeks later by the young of the previous year. In the three years we have had our boxes, we have filled one completely and about half of the other. If our colony keeps growing, we will have to add another box!

The birdhouses are seasonal, but since our big renovation the Inn welcomes visitors all year long! Why don’t you come visit? The Martins aren’t here in the cooler months, but we always have fun birds to view.