27 August 2011

Really Amazing Martin Roosting Evening

It was a "really amazing" evening of viewing the Purple Martins as they made their way into the midtown Omaha Roost.

A human couple had arrived early on the scene, and were walking around looking for the birds. They asked a roost expert that had then recently arrived, and soon understood they just needed to wait awhile.

None of the dozen watchers were disappointed as more than 50,000 martins flew about above in large groups, dense in color against the sky. Conditions were calm and comfortable so the birds stayed aloft, mostly to the west of the roost trees. Perhaps they like the setting as the cement expanses below would heat more during the day and continue to create thermal activity longer than a natural surface. This would make it easier for the martins to soar without effort.

The display continued for a fine time as the martins - masters of flock flight - took their time whooshing into the roost. Then after some would arrive, they would swirl around just a few feet above the head of the focused watchers.

This spectacle was enjoyed by all, especially the couple, who expect to return and bring their grandkids.

Emergency Vehicle Noise

During the evening - after birds had landed and while many were flying around - an Omaha Fire and Rescue Department ambulance (No. 3) was departing from the nearby emergency room, heading north. The vehicle's driver came near a group of watchers on the sidewalk and then blew the blatantly loud ambulance air horn three times for some unknown reason. There was absolutely no apparent reason for doing this.

The noise obviously disturbed the martins. Some appeared to leave the trees and others diverted their flight path, and the birds appeared to mill about in reaction. There were watchers which were obviously perturbed about the unneeded "blowing" by the vehicle by some "twit" of a driver that seemed to want to specifically cause a disturbance. Perhaps they thought it would be "funny?"

A short time later a stunned martin was found beneath the south end of the elevated walkway between Kiewit and Clarkson towers.

It was a grand evening with the birds flying about in all their grandeur, especially on this August 26th, Friday evening.

The number of martins remained consistent through the weekend. Saturday had its injured birds, but they recovered and were again airborne. There were good numbers of watchers, with 17 on Saturday and 14 on Sunday evening.

This video was shot in hd and look pathetic here, but does give some indication of the number of martins present.