Saturday, April 09, 2011

Purple Martins

The first Purple Martin of 2011 arrived on the CyFair campus back in February. A solitary male, he came to scout out the nesting situation.

Over the past couple of weeks, several more males and some females have arrived and have moved into the college's Martin houses. The males are particularly beautiful in their black and blue iridescent plumage.

As with many other bird species, the females are much less glamorous.

But they certainly make their voices heard.

No doubt more Martins will be arriving and settling in over the coming weeks. Some of the later arrivals may face competition in the form of European Starlings, several of which always try to occupy some of the Martin houses. Like House Sparrows and Rock Pigeons, Starlings are an invasive species whose spread across North America has led to the decline of some native species. However, while Starlings may threaten native birds, you have to admit that they also are beautiful. 

I'm going to be up and out very early tomorrow. I'm heading to the Attwater NWR, where visitors who arrive by 7:00 a.m. will have a rare chance to see some of the refuge's endangered Greater Prairie Chickens. If we're lucky, we may see the males performing their courtship ritual. 
Although the visit to see the Prairie Chickens will last only an hour or so, I'll be spending the rest of the morning at the refuge to take part in a birding walk and then a birding tour by van. Wish me luck!

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