Graceful in flight, the Purple Martin, the largest of North America’s swallows, is one of Houston’s most popular birds. In late summer, after leaving the nesting colony with fledglings in tow, Purple Martins gather daily in large flocks to feed, socialize, and roost before migrating.
The Houston metro area is lucky to have Purple Martin roosts, with some areas witnessing up to 500,000 birds. From July to September, Houston's Purple Martins spend most of the day feeding on flying insects to build energy for their long journey across the Gulf of Mexico. At dusk, large flocks cover the sky in a dark cloud as they fly into the trees to roost, this spectacle lasting about 45-minutes.
At Houston Audubon’s Purple Martin Watch Parties, sponsored this year by CenterPoint Energy, the community is invited to gather and witness the wonder of Purple Martin flying patterns as they come together to roost every night. During the parties, Houston Audubon staff and volunteers are on hand to educate attendees about Purple Martins, their amazing journey, and how people can help protect these birds. These free, family-friendly events are fun for all ages.
“CenterPoint Energy is proud to support the Purple Martin Migration Watch Parties this year,” said Gloria Bounds, Community Relations Manager for CenterPoint Energy. “With Houston as a major migratory pathway, this presents an exciting opportunity to partner with Houston Audubon Society as they work to educate the public about birds and conservation. Through our outreach efforts, we lend support to educational and environmental initiatives that enhance the quality of life for our customers and our communities.”
Since 2014, CenterPoint Energy has partnered with Houston Audubon to support conservation efforts and spread the message about the importance of power line safety. Birds like Purple Martins can sit on power lines without getting shocked because they aren’t touching the ground or a grounded object. However, people can be shocked if they get too close to a power line, so CenterPoint Energy advises the public to stay at least 10 feet away.
Houston Audubon’s Purple Martin Watch Parties take place from July until September at dusk. The two big roosts are in Stafford and Willowbrook. Because nature is unpredictable, locations are subject to change, so please check our website or social media for up-to-date news. More information can be found on our website at www.houstonaudubon.org/purplemartins.