Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Martin Hotel

Our neighbor has a bird condo especially for martins. They clean and scrub it every spring, long before the martins arrive and give it a fresh coat of paint. It's the envy of the bird world and an attraction for every bird of prey within eye shot.

I've seen husky black crows stake out a watch on the nearby branches for hours at a time, hoping to snatch an unsuspecting martin on a food foraging mission. The tiny protective holes the martins use for entry prevent other birds from becoming unexpected guests.

The dark purple martins dart over the pond catching flying insects and bugs that hover over the water. When they forage, the martins flock together secure in their numbers. The owners of the condo keep shrubs and flowers away from the base to prevent squirrels or other critters easy access.

I understand it is difficult to attract martins. There is a method, a means, and a consistency that builds trust. Once this is established, the martins return every year, along with succeeding generations.

During the breeding and nesting period, the martins fly and forage almost continually, except for an afternoon siesta. Many times I've walked by and feared that they had left for the season. But the very next day, at a different time, they are feasting and foraging as usual.

I marvel at the martins ability to find their "home sweet home." each year. I know that spring is here at last when the martin hotel is open for business.