Purple Martins were already sitting on the wires upon the arrival of an observer at their midtown mecca, on Saturday, July 24. It was a exquisite evening, without the heat and humidity which had been oppressive, making it comfortable to be outside, atop pavement and among the buildings, just to watch the multitude of birds gathering.
Martins were perched in their usual fashion, but it was immediately apparent they were looking the other direction. On all previous visits this season, each of the birds had been looking southward. This night, all were facing northward. And there was no breeze, if this facet might make a difference.
After a time walking around the alley beneath the power-lines to view the birds above and get an appreciation of the different perspectives presented, and listen to their calls, or readily hear the distinct sound of droppings hitting the ground, my vantage point went westward to the immediate vicinity where the martins were gathering above their well-known roost.
With my back against the sidewalk - and bicycle lying on a nearby curb - the expanse of sky was open above, and martin time was underway. Once the birds really got going, there was a lot more moving around in order to pencil observations on a sheet of notebook paper, or to get a bit of indicative video.
Little things can sometimes mean a lot, so it was only with appreciation that the entire evening was free and unfettered, with no silly disturbances. There were no vehicles along the drive during the entire time of watching, and despite my being a long and unmoving body, which someone could certainly interpret as a corpse at times, there were no confrontations with campus security.
Attention was directed toward the birds.
Once again, their arrival was with finesse, without any distress.
Eddys and currents, with movements and motions super fine in the evening's sky.
Round and about with dips and dives. Or, over and under beneath the lessening blue. Etc.
With so much motion - distinct for each and every martin - there could be thousands of words written about what was going on. And not a one would actually convey the real view of any Purple Martin.
There was constant action, which can readily be expressed by some words most suitable for the person noting the activity.
So many martins right here and everywhere around, seen. Overwhelming - in a positive way - the martins called as they would dive and float, dash and emote in their especial birdly manner. No sirens from any emergency vehicle arriving at the nearby emergency room broke the spell.
As dusk descended the bright orb of the moon ascended - unseen easterly of the multi-story buildings - over the scene. With an unending transition to deep dusk, the myriad of martins began their typical diving descent from the west, as each set their wings and dynamically dove to a suitable, arboreal spot which would be their roost for the arriving night.
Despite any attempt at grandiose linguistics, a few measly words - even if a thesaurus might have been consulted - could only weakly convey the reality of the many pleasurable moments.
Being at the spot is the only suitable option to achieve any realistic understanding of this uniquely Omaha wonder.
Watching the Purple Martins swarm is certainly much easier than observing Sandhill Cranes along the Platte River, though they each has its distinct splendors.
It was a glorious view and a sight to forever appreciate. Here and there and no where else was there a similar event for this latter July ... a wondrous evening appreciated by a single person whom cared enough to watch and denote the experience.
Enough expressed. Get out, be about in the pre-night time and experience your own version of this momentous occurrence, which is a grand expression of another wonder of birds.
Purple Martins on the alley wires, evening of July 24, 2010.