Posts Tagged ‘purple martins’

I know I’m not alone when I say that I detest the win­ter sea­son. It has only got­ten worse in the past few years. In fact, since I have enthu­si­as­ti­cally embraced the green liv­ing lifestyle, my con­tempt for win­ter has become a bit of an obses­sion. I may have to become one of those silver-haired snowbirds.

The ther­mostats are turned down and we have resorted to means other than our heat pumps to keep warm. It doesn’t always work, I should add.

I have got­ten so cold that I have resorted to wear­ing those incred­i­bly light­weight but warm Patag­o­nia capi­lene long under­wear most days. While mall shop­ping a few weeks ago I was tick­led to find cash­mere fin­ger­less gloves that I can wear while typ­ing. I bought two pair. And Brook­stone had Tem­purpedic slip­pers that I tuck my feet into at my desk. They pretty much park there because they are too clumsy to walk around in.

But win­ter is not with­out its rewards.

Last month, in the mid­dle of win­ter on a par­tic­u­larly frigid day, I had the elec­tri­cian here swap­ping out one set of pro­gram­ma­ble ther­mostats for ones that I can actu­ally under­stand how to pro­gram. As we were chat­ting, I glanced out the front door and stopped mid-sentence.

A group of six East­ern Blue­birds was explor­ing the Pur­ple Mar­tin gourds that I have pro­cras­ti­nated mov­ing in for the winter.

I watched, trans­fixed, as they moved in and out of the gourds and perched on the sup­port poles. Once I regained my senses, I scram­bled for my cam­era and long lens to take pho­tos. Then I grabbed my Sib­ley guide to see whether it’s that unusual to see blue­birds here in November.

Appar­ently, it’s not unheard of for groups of blue­birds to stay north­ward and nest together rather than head­ing for warmer quar­ters. Mar­garet at A Way to Gar­den said she has even seen them near her New York home in winter.

Sadly, they didn’t stick around, so I’m still going to have to store those Pur­ple Mar­tin gourds.

In the mean­time, I’m keep­ing a keen eye out for the poten­tial return of Evening Gros­beaks. The Win­ter King Hawthorns that line the dri­ve­way near our house are loaded with the fat, red berries that attracted a flock of them last winter.

I only hope I am look­ing out the win­dows when they arrive. It’s my small con­so­la­tion for hav­ing to dress like an Eskimo in my own home.


There was a bit of excite­ment here at Bum­ble­bee a cou­ple of nights ago. I thought we had finally attracted some pur­ple martins.

I was out­side with the lit­tle dogs and was watch­ing the blue­birds who have moved into the pur­ple mar­tin gourds. They have been there all sum­mer, hav­ing babies and using the long arms of the gourd sys­tem as a perch to look for juicy bugs. But some of the “blue­birds” were exhibit­ing some very un-bluebird like behav­ior. They perched and then flew off to grab bugs in mid-air and then returned to the perch to chow down.

Well, nat­u­rally I thought they were pur­ple mar­tins. I was so excited my hands were shak­ing as I changed my cam­era lens to the mon­ster long-lens. I snapped shots and sent them off to a cou­ple of friends, includ­ing Ruthie, announc­ing, “I have pur­ple martins!!!”

Well, don’t you love the inner­nets? Within three or four min­utes one friend had called and the other emailed to gen­tly inform me that I didn’t have pur­ple mar­tins at all.

I have Great Crested Flycatchers.

Well, nat­u­rally I was dis­ap­pointed. After hav­ing invested a wag­onload of money in the gourd sys­tem, charmed a handy­man into installing the pole in my Mary­land hard­pan clay and got­ten up for many, many morn­ings before dawn to play them the CD of pur­ple mar­tin dawn song on my boom box, I still didn’t have pur­ple martins.

But my friends assured me that a Great Crested Fly­catcher is indeed a very spe­cial and inter­est­ing bird. But then, I already knew the inter­est­ing part. He surely cap­tured my interest!

Now, I am watch­ing as the blue­birds and fly­catch­ers share their perch. They seem com­pan­ion­able enough and both are spe­cial birds that I’m happy to have in my yard. Even if they aren’t pur­ple martins.

There is always next year.



Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.


Email Updates

To get the latest Bumblebee posts in your email box, just enter your email address.

  • Tags

  • Recent Posts

  • Google