Our Purple Martins–Adolph Reports

Purple Martin Houses and Informational Display

Purple Martin Houses and Informational Display

Bryan Park's Purple Martins

Bryan Park’s Purple Martins–The green leaves  are the final touch  to the nest making  just before the female martin lays her eggs. -Photo by K. Butler











May 18, 2015 Adolf was featured in a Richmond Times-Dispatch article.  You can read it here:


Adolf reports another year of success!  A full colony of martins is now living in their carefully tended houses in Bryan Park!

March 26, 2015 As reported by our landlord, Adolph White, three purple martins were seen at the nesting colony today around sunset. They are on their way back for the 2015 season!


July 10,  2014   I  counted  35 young purple martins this summer at our Purple Martins Nesting colony in Bryan Park. I have had to return three nestlings to the porches after  they left the martin houses  prematurely.   One of them flew into the lake, but made a wing- flapping,  water-treading U-turn  directly to me and stopped for me to pick it up from the water’s edge.   I returned it to one of the porches of the purple martin’s houses.   That martin survived.  I am monitoring the houses each  day to be sure that all fallen martins will be returned to the porches or taken to a rehabilitation center.

March 23, 2014  Adolph, our Purple Martin landlord, has reported that the first Purple Martin has arrived in Bryan Park for the season.  Others will soon follow this “scout!”

March 4, 2014   Jimmy of Providence Forge reported his first Purple Martin at 10:45 am today, March 4, 2014. His gourds have been ready since Feb. 22nd thanks to several friends helping him. The male was flying through the porch area as Jimmy was flipping pieces of fried egg to the Martin. We wish the Purple Martin and Jimmy well. Spring is coming! The words below come from Adolph White, who maintains the Purple Martin houses in Bryan Park. Just this year he added a third house to the two he installed in 2011. These birds, which migrate back to the Park after wintering in Brazil, have a very special friend in Adolph. He persistently, gently and lovingly monitors this population of Martins and their houses.  If you see him out working on the houses, please thank him for his hard work. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. He loves to tell you about these extraordinary birds.  Underneath the Purple Martin houses, which are on the south side of the lower pond, on Gabriel Prosser Lane, you will find a sign that will also answer some of the questions you may have. It was built and paid for by the Friends of Bryan Park.


March 10, 2012         “A male scout of the Purple Martins has arrived at Bryan Park. I, Adolph White, one of the Purple Martins landlords, will be supplementing this male’s diet with crushed egg shells because of the early morning cold weather we are experiencing in Richmond, VA. Only a few flying insects are actually flying. Therefore, egg shell supplements containing protein, suggested by the Purple Martins Conservation Association will prevent this early arrival from starving.”

March 29, 2012          The Purple Martins are back from South America and moving into their homes in Bryan Park.  Bring your children to watch these wonderful birds skimming the water and merrily setting up housekeeping, as they prepare to lay eggs and raise their young.

May 1, 2012      The houses are full of activity!  Perhaps you’d like to go take a look for yourself?–FoBP

June 18, 2012       Even though I fed  fried egg strips and crushed egg shells to the Purple Martins at Bryan Park on the cold days when insects were not flying, I also observed several Purple Martins catching and eating insects  from the the ground —yes ! –from the ground. I also observed that the Purple Martins do very little flying during days when the temperature is near 40 degrees. They  are doing this to preserve energy. To get this information I had to observe them for over two hours at a time.   Therefore, a few of them are eating insects from the ground when it’s too cold for the insects to fly.  I guess “survival means this. Do what is necessary to stay  alive,” even  if it has reference to the Purple Martins and swallows.

June 25, 2012     Even when we are still in the nesting time for the Purple Martins, those that have fledged are following some of their parents to gigantic roosting sites. From these large roosting sites ,the migration to South will begin when the temperatures and natural changes begin to take place in a North America( USA).  Some of them are roosting in the Bradford Pear trees on 17th Street near the Farmer’s Market in Richmond, VA each day. On Sunday June 24, over 3,000 purple martins descended to these trees between 8:10 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.  To see this spectacular air display and diving show, come to this location by 8:00 p.m.

July 2, 2012     The young chicks are fledgling and leaving the nest at this time. There will be approximately 50+ young Purple Martins this year in Bryan Park.  Most of the young will not return next year. They will leave and go to some of the other sites on the east or mid-western states. However, other young Martins from other nesting sites will do a fly-by of our site in Bryan Park in the early weeks of August before the massive migration begins.  These fly-bys will investigate our nesting colony and return next year.  According to the Purple Martins Conservation  Association’s research this is the routine used by the newly fledged martins.

July 24, 2012   Adolph reports that he counted 60 Purple Martins at the Bryan Park houses yesterday.  An impressive population!  This is only the third year since Adolph installed the houses.  Fascinated? Don’t miss the Purple Martin Festival.  It’s on the evening of August 4.  Read all about it here.

July 28, 2012   There are 16,000 Purple Martins coming to roost each day in the Bradford pear trees on 17th Street near the Farmers Market in Richmond, VA. This roosting site is part of the purple martins migratory route being used as they prepare to leave the United States.   Some of the purple martins migrated all the way to Canada after they entered the United States in January.  Now,  their movements will take them home to  various locations in South America.  If you are in or near Richmond, VA., come to this location where these gliding birds will be roosting until the middle of August.   This is  a rare and fascinating way for thousands of purple martins to circle  and form beautiful flying patterns before diving into the trees at  the  speed of 45+  miles per hour. Most of the Bryan Park  martins are  gone and are  roosting in the 17th Street Bradford pear trees.

Purple Martins in Bryan Park

Purple Martins in Bryan Park


Adolph White tends to one of the Purple Martin houses in the park

Adolph White tends to one of the Purple Martin houses in the park

August 27, 2012  The Purple Martins are gone from the 17th Street roosting site in Richmond, VA. They left a few days ago. They didn’t leave all together……………but instead, they left at about a thousand a day each day until they all were gone. This roosting site is one of the first stages (stops) of the fall migration for the Purple Martins. As they move on through the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia and on to Florida, before going on to the Caribbean Islands and then home to South America, we wish that they will safely navigate the winds and hurricanes that they will no doubt face on this long trip. Such a lenghty migration will be made easier by groups of purple martins flying in close proximity of each other—-each bird creating its own WAKE that reduces the air pressure behind that bird. This means that the martin that is flying behind another martin has less air pressure to deal with… making the flight less burdensome. Most of the migrating birds use this method. Adolph White,  the Purple Martins landlords of Bryan Park in Richmond, Virginia, USA.

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