Friday, April 14, 2006

Martin Homecoming

In a spirit of joy and friendship, Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Richardson are thrilled to announce the much-anticipated return of the Martin family to Gobbler Knob. Who are the Martins, you might ask? Well, here's a group shot: And here's a close-up of one of the men of the group: Isn't he handsome? J and I have a couple of Purple Martin condos on our property and every year at least a few mating couples take up residence. Some years the boxes are full to overflowing. I love it when the Martins return and always wish they could stay longer than the all-too-brief visit they pay every year. (We're the hosts of their summer place in the country!) They're my favorite birds to watch, more fun even than the hummingbirds, in my opinion. Watching the hummingbirds is a bit like watching fighter pilot training. They zip around almost faster than the eye can follow. They snark and quarrel and chase each other away from the feeders. Before the summer is over they'll even make little strafing runs toward people, and let me tell ya - it's a little freaky seeing that long, sharp beak coming toward you at near-light-speed! Watching the Purple Martins, on the other hand, is like watching pure joy in flight. They swoop, they circle, they dive and the pull up and rise again. They chase each other, calling and chattering the whole time. Sometimes I swear they sound like they're laughing. I love this shot that makes it look like they're outrunning a jet trail: Both the males and the females look after the nest, so that no one is stuck in the box too long. One sits in the box while the other hunts for insects (including mosquitoes! Yay!), and now and then they'll both leave and go sit on the nearby electric wire, always facing the nest. Whole groups of Martins will hang out there gossiping, ready to swoop back home if anyone or anything gets too close to their babies. Then when the sun starts to set, they head home one by one to rest until the sun comes up again. The hummingbirds are faster. The hawks are more majestic. But the Martins are exhilarating and fun! They make my heart sing. If I could magically experience being a bird for just a few minutes, I would want to be a Purple Martin. Here's yet one more pear blossom photo, both in its natural state: "Pear Blossom 3" and altered to look painterly: "Pear Blossom 3 - Altered"

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