Birds begin migrating back to Pineywoods

Birds begin migrating back to Pineywoods
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - With the spring weather here, East Texas should start to see their favorite flocks of birds moving back into Deep East Texas.

This past weekend, a large number of purple martins were reported returning to their birdhouses in Angelina County. According to the purple martin Conservation Association east of the Rocky Mountains, purple martins nest almost exclusively in human-supplied housing.

"They are dependent on us for their survival," the site said. "They are one of America's most well-loved songbirds for many reasons; their chattering song, aerial acrobatics, insect-eating habits and their tolerance of humans."

Harold Wood has three purple martin birdhouses on his property in Pollok. Each birdhouse can hold up to 12 nests.

"You have to put them away from other trees and are 12 feet high," Wood said. "That way they can stay away from predators."

Wood said the Martins have a very thought out migration plan.

"Sometime in January, the scouts will show up, sometimes two or three and you will see them out there for a day or so and then they are gone," Wood said. "Six to eight weeks after that is when the big migration returns, and they will come up to the same place they were born and hatched."

Wood said right now the Martins on his property have been busy gathering materials for their new nests. Wood believes by May eggs will begin to hatch. Wood is not able to get close to the birds yet because of them being skittish but is confident they will be welcoming in the coming weeks.

"Right now, if I go outside they will fly off and not want to be bothered," Wood said. "In a few weeks, I will be able to come out and walk right up to the house and even mow under it, and the birds will just sit there and watch me."

The conservation site said the purple martin has what is called "delayed plumage maturation," meaning that they take more than one year to acquire their adult plumage.  For purple martins, it takes two years for both the male and female to acquire their full adult plumage.

During the breeding season, there are four distinct age/sex classes for purple martins. These are adult male, adult female, sub-adult male, and sub-adult female.  After nestlings fledge, there is a fifth distinguishable age class of juvenile.  Juveniles cannot be sexed by plumage.

Wood said other bird watchers in the area have also reported the return of the cardinal.

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