The Purple Martins are long gone and their summer accommodation has been closed for the season. It is reminiscent of a resort that is shut down after a busy summer season with guests flying in from far flung destinations to party it up, find a date, have fun in the hay, have young, raised them, and see them move out – all in the span of about four months. Talk about living life in the fast lane. By now they are on their way or already back at their overwintering rounds around the Gulf of Mexico, in the Caribbean and throughout Central America.
It is difficult imagining getting bored of watching birds. With 6 months and 2 days of birding under my belt in three different countries and on two continents every nature walk is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you will see. The diversity in appearance and behaviour seems never ending. Some birds are colourful, some have eccentric behaviours others have impressive physical attributes or perform remarkable physical feats. Then there are those birds that have style. They have brio. They are the Dany and Rusty (as in the Ocean’s film series) of the birding world. Purple Martins (Progne subis) at Heritage Wetlands Park in Sherwood Park definitely belong to this last category. Here they occupy elaborate multi-story bird mansions that balance on tall stakes high above the reeds. When they are not enjoying the vistas from their lofty perches they skip back and forth over the ponds in agile death defying maneuvers.