April 7, 2013

Purple martin

Progne subis

Progne subis

Blooming daffodils, budding redbuds and pesky flowering dandelions are sure signs of spring.

But none of the three are as refreshing to area birders as when purple martins return in good numbers.

Having spent their winter in South American tropics, the first migrating purple martins normally come northward in late February.

Good numbers are usually in the Wichita area by early April.

Occasionally a cold spell will slow the appearance of flying insects, a martin’s main meal, enough to cause some birds to starve. Others have frozen to death in the past.

Ideally local martins will pair up and produce young in the hundreds of martin houses scattered around the area.

Shortly after fledging, martins will begin gathering in huge flocks around Aug. 1, preparing for another trip to the tropics.

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