02 August 2010

Extraordinary Numbers of Martin Watchers at Midtown Roost

A whole bunch of people decided that their particular Saturday evening destination would be midtown Omaha to watch the gathering of the Purple Martins. They were walking, talking and generally gathered about the roost scene at the Nebraska Medical Center.

From the viewpoint of a seasoned martineer, it was quite surprising to arrive and see so many people and their vehicles gathered. The common and obvious character was that they were all looking towards the sky.

On previous days this year there had been perhaps one or two others, but the norm had been no one else being present. There had not ever been this many viewers in either 2009 or 2008, and never since the gathering was originally discovered on August 23, 2008.

What a highlight that so many people though the martin gathering was something special enough for them to come out and experience the birds at their unique roost.

It was all unexpected, but the obvious result of an article in the morning edition of the local newspaper.

It was another magnificent at the midtown martin mecca.

There were at least 25 cars in the parking lot east of the Clarkson Doctors Building South. At least 55 people were along 44th street, at 8:30 p.m., with others elsewhere, including north of Farnam Street. The range of ages was from youth to elder, with a few dogs also brought along.

Some people were smiling as they watched the event unfold. Others talked birds. Some were sitting in lawn chairs. Everyone's attention was focused upward.

Justin Rink was on the scene, walking about and whenever there was an appropriate opportunity, he explained martin natural history, discussed the value of the species, and other bits of important details.

The martins were typical in all their glory, flying hither and yon, over and under, above and below. Many other metaphors could be expressed according to one's personal perspective, and inclination in verbiage. Martins were intent on survival and getting into their safe roost for another night, and could care less about any human language.

There was little time to observe the scene in detail, with the scene so active and moving around to see what was occurring. This came to a quick stop when going beneath the prominent building walkway. There were four martins on the cement, representing bird strikes, which resulted in three fatalities. The banners were in place, though they had not been there on Thursday evening.

Picture taking ensued, but with all the people about, there were diversions. Perhaps the flash of a camera brought attention. At least ten people noted the dead birds, wondering about the cause, and being there, an explanation was given.

As others arrived, time was taken to explain the situation to three particular bird enthusiasts with emphasis given to: 1) when the martins were about; 2) how their occurrence changes while they are present; 3) behavior of a typical day; 4) potential transition of the flock during the weeks at Omaha; and, 5) where the birds eventual destination.

One of the three was familiar with birds, which led to a focused discussion of how detailed research could be done at this roost, and provide facts about the whole event which are now just conjecture. During this conversation, one of the birds lying on the sidewalk, had flown away, obviously having only been stunned when it hit the glass obstruction.

The demise of the birds was a sordid situation to be discussing, but the group was urged to return later, when there would be more martins at their gathering place.

It was another grand time to enjoy the majesty of the martins, and on this evening something that was appreciated by a great bunch of people watching a unique spectacle within the Omaha environs.

An estimated 12,000 martins were present, as seen by about 75 people. There were similar numbers Sunday evening.

Justin Rink, in the tan cap on the right, preaches about martins to the gathered congregation at the Nebraska Medical Center. His fine words certainly converted them to being better bird enthusiasts. Sunday, August 1, 2010.