Saturday, May 1, 2010


He has made the round trip flight from Ohio to Brazil and back at least twice. He may even have been born right here, on my little five acre piece of ground. Today, he died here, murdered in his bed by an alien interloper.

Who was he? An adult male Purple Martin, technically called ASY for "After Second Year," a bird who was hatched in 2008 or earlier, who flew south 5000 miles or more when he was only a few weeks old and who returned from South America the following spring as an SY (Second Year) bird. Who may or may not have found and defended a nesting cavity, who may have mated and could even have produced young in his adolescence. A bird who repeated that 10,000 mile migration to return to his home this year as a fully adult male, ready to take his place in my colony and pass those magnificent genes on to another generation of martins.

He won't be able to now. Caught unawares in his round-holed Super Gourd by a larger, heavier, and meaner bird, he didn't have a chance. His delicate bill, designed for swooping up insects in flight, and his aerodynamic body were no match for the
dagger-like bill, stout body and aggressive attitude of a European starling.

Look away now if you don't want to see the carnage. I show it only to help others understand why I practice lethal control of starlings and house sparrows.



Addendum: I got the SOB that killed my martin. Look at these side by side comparisons, and tell me if you think the Purple Martin on the right ever had a chance against the starling on the left.


retriever farm said...

How in the world did you off the starling? Did you pay the cats do do the deed? I hate those birds with a passion!

Kathi said...

Nest box traps. I can give you the details in person if you like.

Tricia said...

I had no idea that starlings were in the habit of killing adult martins!

Kathi said...


Yes, unfortunately, starlings and house sparrows both will compete aggressively with Purple Martins for their nest cavities. They build nests, puncture eggs, kill young, and even kill adults if possible.

Two years ago, I noticed a martin gourd shaking violently, and there was no wind. I lowered the rack but was too slow to trap the sparrow that was inside, attacking a martin. Luckily, that guy wasn't injured. He looked calmly at me, didn't struggle when I picked him up to examine him, and even waited a brief moment in my hand before flying off when I released him. I like to think he was saying "Thanks."

I spared you the photos of the dead baby bluebirds, murdered in their bed by a House Sparrow two days after this tragedy. Is it any wonder I hate both nasty alien invaders, birds who could nest anywhere, but deliberately kill our lovely native birds instead?