Martins on the move

Published 12:25 am Monday, February 4, 2008

VIDALIA — They may not be the bluebird of happiness, but some migratory swallows are already making their way back into the area.

Purple martins — the largest members of the swallow family, so-named because of their distinct coloring — have arrived in the area at least as early as they ever have.

And for Vidalia resident James Stigall, that’s something amazing.

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A long-time “landlord” for a purple martin house, Stigall said he began to see the early martins — or scouts — about a week and a half ago.

“That’s the earliest I’ve ever seen them,” he said.

The earliest recorded martin scout in the Louisiana Ornithological Society’s records for northern Louisiana is Jan. 28, Louisiana State University — Shreveport Biology Professor and Ornithologist James Ingold said.

By the end of February the martins should be migrating back in full force, Ingold said.

Purple martins spend their non-breeding season in Brazil but they migrate to North America to nest, where, east of the Rocky Mountain Range they depend on humans to supply them with nesting areas, according to The Purple Martin Conservation Association.

The birds will nest in both houses and gourds.

If the martins like the housing a landlord like Stigall provides them and can successfully breed on it, they will return year after year.

And that is likely why Stigall’s birds returned so early this year, Ingold said.

“If they have been nesting in the same area for some time, they are some of the first ones to show up,” he said.