[Tweeters] Lewis County Purple Martins, Apology and Thank you.

stan Kostka lynn Schmidt lynnandstan at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 6 21:01:08 PDT 2014

Hi Tweets,

Just a note to say thanks to those who pointed out my erroneous statement regarding purple martin nesting records for Lewis County. Somehow I had mistakenly filed Kimberly Mason's 2013 record of martins on Lake Scanewa into Cowlitz county, in my spreadsheet, and in my mind so it seems, because at the time I was considering their possible dispersal from a large managed colony north of Silver Lake. Sorry. And, I was unaware that the martins near the Steam Plant, first brought to my attention by Patrick Sullivan back in 2003, were in later years found nesting in that vicinity by Tim O'Brien. I am happy to be corrected.

Having said that, I'm still jazzed by Henry Wegener's recent find, in a county with so few purple martin records, since it has involved so many birds, initially and on subsequent visits, at one known nest, something that indicates it's very likely, almost certainly, there are more nests in the vicinity.

Years ago while searching for breeding martins at Lava Beds National Monument in California, we found a nest in a rock crevice near the entrance to a lava tube cave, into which adults were carrying food and removing fecal sacs. Our approach set these adults into alarm calling, and soon there were about six martins flying around. We at first were puzzled by so many birds at what appeared to be a solitary nest. We watched the area for some hours and never saw birds perching anywhere else except at the entrance to the one nest. Subsequent days of searching turned up more nests, over a mile away. The lack of any suitable nesting substrate between the two sites led us to think that these colonial nesters can spread out over large distances, and still maintain connection through vocalizations, such as alarm calling, and dawn singing.

Also, in my experience it can be difficult to clearly distinguish females and sub adult males from fledgling martins. So, it's possible some of the birds seen around the one known nest may be a combination of hatch year birds, and adults. In any case, so many extra birds around the one known nest indicates more nests in the area, as far as a mile or more away.

Tweeters is a fine group of folks and an excellent resource for anyone interested keeping up with the latest information about birds in Washington. Thanks again for the correction.

Stan Kostka

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