Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ready for Purple Martins?

Purple martin photo courtesy of Dori on Wikimedia Commons

If you have a purple martin house or plan to put up a purple martin house, now is the time.

According to the North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club checklist, purple martins begin to arrive in mid-February. One was spotted Friday at Wild Bird Rescue, where they do maintain a martin house. A local purple martin expert, Mr. Ambrose, reported on the Purple Martin Conservation Association website a scout on February 20. Many other sightings in the last few days in north central Texas are also noted.

Although referred to as "scouts" the early returning birds are older birds, returning to their previous nesting sites.

Most people believe purple martins eat mosquitoes. Not so, despite what many of the boxes say that contain purple martin houses. Purple martins do eat flying insects; however, martins feed primarily during the day and mosquitoes are most active at night. Purple martins eat pretty much any flying insect, bug or spiders floating in the air.

If you want to encourage animals that eat mosquitos, put up a bat box. Bats eat a lot of mosquitoes.

Regardless of their diet, purple martins are beautiful birds that can add a lot of enjoyment to your yard.

Good birding!

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