They've not gone yet, but I can tell they'd be packing their suitcases, if they did such things. The Purple Martins are preparing for their long journey to South America. The fledglings came out of the nest boxes a few weeks ago and are building up their flying skills to make the long flight. Several years ago, I gave Mike a Martin house for Valentine's Day and, if I do say so myself, it's been a most enjoyed gift. We put it up early in the spring close to the date written on the calendar (from the previous year's notes) and wait for the scouts to show up before uncovering the openings to the nest boxes. (The openings are covered to keep the sparrows and blasted starlings from moving in.) Once we see the scouts, the coverings come off and the rest of the flock shows up in a day or so. I love the fact that those returning birds are coming home, back to where they were hatched, to build their nests and have their own babies.
This was a good year for the Martins, I think because we've had a mostly pleasant summer, without the heat and dryness of the last several years. Right now there's a bumper crop of young birds practicing swooping and gliding around over the farm. The nest box sits high above my garden and I love to hear them chirping and chattering up there and often, in the evenings when I'm coming back from the last barn check, when I walk past the nest box, I can hear them shuffling around inside their cozy rooms. I'm trying to pay extra close attention this year. Usually, because I'm so accustomed to seeing and hearing them, I don't notice the exact day they aren't there anymore. This year I'm going do my best to have a departure date to write on the calendar.