100,000 Purple Martins roost in Austin


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist MATT OLSEN

Bio | Email | Follow: @KrisB_KVUE


Posted on July 5, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 5 at 10:36 PM

AUSTIN - Swooping high up in the sky as the sun sets over Austin Friday night, Purple Martins swell in numbers, putting on a display for more than a hundred bird enthusiasts at Highland Mall.

“They are the fighter jet of the bird species,” said Danny Sinclair, who owns a business called “Purple Martin Propagators.”

His company makes Martin houses you may have noticed around town for the birds to nest in.

“We make our cavities look like bottleneck gourds,” he explains, which is an ideal nesting shape for the Martins.

Nestled in the background of the Austin skyline is a purple martin sanctuary filled with Sinclair’s gourds off Barton Springs.

“We have fifteen poles here, which will accommodate approximately 160 nests,” said Gardner Sumner, who visits the nests three or more times a day.

“I really get a lot of pleasure out of doing what I can for these creatures, they're truly remarkable."

But purple martins purpose goes far beyond flying. Sinclair explains: they're extremely valuable as a means of insect control.

“Anything that's flying, house flies, gnats, wasps, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles: it's food for a Purple Martin."

So as tens of thousands of Martins prepare to roost at Highland Mall the rest of the month before flying to Brazil, watchers of all ages gather to celebrate these aerial acrobats.

If you would like more information about the Purple Martins at Highland Mall, and information about viewing parties, click here.



News Video
More Video