Friday, July 8, 2011

Purple Martins--Vickie Henderson

What you see below are my initial scribbles as I watched purple martins fly and perch way over my head, during the nesting phase of their breeding season, in April.  
I had the good fortune of becoming acquainted with a purple martin landlord in my area and visiting on a number of occasions during the breeding season to follow the progress of his colony all the way from nesting to the fledging of young in June. By the middle of July, in TN, martins have left their nesting territory, spending their time hunting insects through the day and congregating at roost sites at night, giving youngsters time to strengthen their flight skills, all in preparation for fall migration.    
Delightful birds, purple martins are highly social and vocal.  Aerial insectivores and the largest member of the swallow family in North America, they spend their non-breeding season in Brazil.  East of the Rocky Mountains, martins are totally dependent on human-supplied nesting cavities, the familiar multi-compartment houses and rows of gourd-shaped nest boxes positioned high on a pole that we often see in rural areas. Because of that height, I even resorted to climbing onto the top of my car's roof to get better looks at their activity!
This is the truly fun and inspiring part of art for me.  All that wonderful time I get to spend with the birds.  Then somehow, through that creative spirit we all have in common, these observations become a painting.  And my enjoyment of the whole experience just can't get any better.  

For more notes on my martin experience visit:  The Studies Before the Painting at Vickie's Sketchbook.
To learn more about purple martins visit:  The Purple Martin Conservation Association.


  1. I love to watch them as well, comedians they are,,

  2. What lively little fellows! You really caught their poses...


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