Friday, July 15, 2011

Return of the Hipster Birders

Worry not, fair readers - Hipster Birders hasn't gone extinct. We've been experiencing some big changes that have kept us stuck in non-birding mode for a much longer time than we would have liked. But we're back!

Among our changes is that we've moved next door to one of Palm Beach County's finest parks: Okeeheelee Park -- home to Okeeheelee Nature Center. A stroll along any one of the many trails here might net you a small flock of south Florida's resident Sandhill Cranes, a nesting pair of Wood Ducks, or any number of surprises.

This past Saturday, for instance, we came across the first perched Northern Rough-winged Swallows we've ever seen. Northern Rough-winged Swallows are no strangers to these parts, as Palm Beach just about straddles the border of their summer and winter ranges, but every other time we've seen them has been on the wing, and typically mixing with Tree Swallows. Now we had a prime opportunity to study them at our leisure.

UPDATE: Seagull Steve has astutely thrown my ID into question. Does everybody concur that these are more likely to be young Purple Martins?

Identifying swallows by flight pattern is not a skill I currently possess, but I do hope that this experience made enough of an impression to form some basis for comparison that I'll be able to draw on in the future.


  1. Glad ya'll are back! Those swallows look suspiciously like young Purple Martins to me...

  2. Thanks, Steve! I'm strongly second-guessing myself now that you say that (especially given that you're the Number 8 birder and all). They certainly did seem to have pale napes and foreheads. I suppose I was thrown off by the absence of any clear adult Martins (do young and adult Martins migrate at different times?), and while they did seem dark, they were distinctly brown where they were pigmented.

    Hmm... This has turned into an unexpectedly rich teaching moment - thanks for the heads-up!

  3. I dont know much about martin migration other than they get going south early (although they are certainly still hanging around here in North Dakota). I dont have much experience with juveniles (nor have I looked at juv rough-wings very closely, to be honest) but I wouldnt expect recently fledged birds to have any purple. Also, you can see the bigger, decurved martin bills pretty well in your photos.

  4. Yeah, these guys definitely look like Purple Martins I've seen in the past... Awesome photos!

  5. I'm really glad to hear things have settled down for you guys! Looking forward to more new posts! :)

  6. These are definitely young Purple Martins. As for migration. Our Purple Martin colony at Green Cay certainly does migrate at different times. The adults leave first and then the young martins leave about 2 weeks or so later.

    Had a Louisiana Waterthrush at Green Cay today...migration has started!

  7. Thanks, Eva, for the info about migration! Very interesting, and good to know!

    Also, that's great news about the Louisiana Waterthrush - we still haven't had the pleasure of crossing paths with one. Glad to know migration has started!

  8. yup definitely HY Purple Martin, looks like you may have found where these individuals roost. Were these shots at sunset? Check out our post on our local PUMA roost, thousands and thousands of them!

    Nature is Awesome
    Angel & Mariel

  9. Wow, thanks for posting! That must be incredible!