Monday, August 15, 2011

Purple Martin Time

From the Erie Times News this week:


Purple gaze: Hooray for the Purple Martin Conservation Association. The association is based in Erie, and members estimate that as many as 20,000 purple martins can be seen when they stop in the reeds at Presque Isle State Park during their fall migration to Brazil and Peru. The birds are showing up a little earlier than usual this year and are expected to fly south in early September. "It's really unbelievable," nature photographer Michele Franz says about the experience of watching the birds fly into their roosts and hearing them land. It's especially stunning to see the birds pepper the sky during a gorgeous Erie sunset.

"The purple martin is impressive not only for its remarkably long migration (an estimated 5,000 miles), but also because they tolerate people so well," says John Tautin, executive director of the association, based at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center.


Of course, we're tickled that the thousands of purple martins visiting here also attract more than 100 participants to this annual conference, to learn how to protect the purple martin population. We're not so happy, though, that individuals can no longer traipse to the foot of Sommerheim Drive to watch the birds at the head of the peninsula. The site is off-limits because of construction and vandalism.

For another great story on this "Erie phenomenon" click here.


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