Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Purple martins

with 15 comments

Purple Martins Flocking to Live Oak Tree 9126

You’ve got a lot of birds here: click for larger size and more detail.

Near the beginning of July the Austin daily newspaper ran an article about the large flock of purple martins gathering noisily each evening near sundown above and then in some trees at the northern end of the Highland Mall shopping center parking lot. On July 6th I went to see the spectacle, and of course to photograph it. This made up for the lack of grackles in my neighborhood last fall.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 6 and 15 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 31, 2013 at 6:19 AM

15 Responses

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  1. that is an amazing photo Steve!

  2. That’s a lot of martins! Are they readying for a migration? Or, do they just do that as social behavior? We have starlings and crows do that each evening in some places around here. Thankfully, not very close by.

    Jim in IA

    July 31, 2013 at 6:53 AM

    • It is a lot of martins indeed. I believe the newspaper article said that the birds leave in August, but that would mean they spend at least a month here. I’m afraid I know almost nothing about birds, though my guess is that this is just martins’ social behavior, similar to what I observed with the grackles in my neighborhood.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 31, 2013 at 7:06 AM

  3. Wow, that’s an amazing grouping of birds, and a great photo.

    PK Read

    July 31, 2013 at 11:57 AM

  4. Vraiment impressionnant!


    July 31, 2013 at 3:43 PM

  5. Man that’s a lot of birds! That must have been really cool to see in person!

    Michael Glover

    July 31, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    • It was. I’ll add that I ended up not only with photographs on my memory card but also some other souvenirs on my car, which wasn’t even parked all that close. Another occupational hazard.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 31, 2013 at 4:32 PM

  6. A flock that size is almost unsettling, no matter what bird it is. Nice shot, Steve! And good to hear you weren’t ‘souvenired’. 🙂


    July 31, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    • I didn’t find it unsettling in a Hitchcockian way, but truth to tell, I did get one souvenir when I was in close to the flock taking pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 1, 2013 at 5:42 AM

  7. How lucky you were! It’s a marvelous capture, that reminds me of a bird tale told by Annie Dillard in “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”.


    August 1, 2013 at 7:40 AM

    • And not just I, but the dozens of people who gather in that parking lot at sundown each day while the martins are still here. I didn’t remember the description of the blackbirds emerging from the osage orange tree, but we have blackbirds and osage orange trees in central Texas, so maybe someday I’ll see that show too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 1, 2013 at 11:47 AM

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