martin ID question

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razman
Posts: 563
Joined: Sun May 09, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: wichita ks

i have put up a couple new houses at my site with hopes of making it more attrative for martins next season. i have left the houses up late this year in order to hopefully get some lookers for next spring. the last couple of nights i have had 6-8 birds doing quite of few fly bys. i'm pretty sure they are martins (obviously in the swallow family) but my question is this. most martins i have seen in flight have a distinctive V-tail or scissor looking tail. these birds don't have this in flight. could they be younger birds, or do you think it is probably some other swallow? thanks, rick
Guest

Purple Martin tails are not overly forked. Their tails are often described as notched. Barn swallows have deep forked tails.
I am only wondering because in flight I would not say a martin usually has a "scissor" type of tail. Depending on the flight maneuver the tail can be more or less notched. Take a look at the pic. A couple of them are diving down an bit and their tails look more like when they are perched. the two with the more triangular shaped tails are more typical, IMO. and yes, the younger ones tails are pretty blunt.
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martins in flight
martins in flight
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razman
Posts: 563
Joined: Sun May 09, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: wichita ks

thanks for the reply....the birds that have been checking out my site for the last couple of evenings are exact in every way except the tail. these birds dont have a scissor tail at all in flight, and have shorter stubbier tails. do you think they could still be young martins? or something else altogether......rick
Guest

Chimney swift are a bit smaller and do have a blunt tail. Many people confuse them with martins. Using google, I found these photos:

http://www.birdguides.com/species/species.asp?sp=079062
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2928
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Do you have an established colony or have you just had visitors? I may be wrong but it sound to me like the birds you describe as martins (with the distinct V Tail) are actually barn swallows and the birds that you now have visiting are actually martins with the more blunt tail. I know very little about barnies and I have never heard of them housing in PM houses so if you have them in your houses already my theory is wrong.
But I have a LOT of people tell me that they have martins on there property (and they always chase their mowers) and it almost always turns out to be barn swallows.
razman
Posts: 563
Joined: Sun May 09, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: wichita ks

i do not have an established colony, i recently added to new houses to my site, to bring the total number of houses to three (two 12 units and one 24unit castle)

i am just hoping that some birds will take notice of the "improvements" to my site this fall, and come back next spring to see me! and for the last few evenings 6-8 birds have spent about 30 minutes flying around the area and coming in real close to the houses to take a look. none of them have landed on a house to my knowledge. after looking at the chimney swift pictures in the above thread, i have to say that these birds at my site resemble the chimney swift. shorter stubbier tails. however i was hoping that younger martins might have tails that looked alot like this also. (probably just wishful thinking) :roll:
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2928
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Chimney swifts do have the stubby body and longer wings. They fly pretty crazy and almost look like a bat darting around. We usually see them in large groups and you will never see them land or perch on a tree or wire. I usually see them at higher altitudes and I don't think I have ever seen them low to the ground or close to my housing. Somebody else might know better. Can you see the color on the underside of the bird? If it is solid black I would say chimney swift if it is lighter color probably the barn swallow.
razman
Posts: 563
Joined: Sun May 09, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: wichita ks

these birds definitely have a light colored under belly.........this evening i would say that there were 30 or more of them flying around close for at least an hour. a few of them had a slightly forked tail... i don't know what to make of it. they fly low and close to the housing, but never land.
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2928
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Any vocalizations? and can you take pics?
Guest

A light colored undebelly indicates that they may be tree swallows..

http://www.birdperch.com/gallspecq.asp?gp=01347001
Guest

I agree with BJ. Tree swallows and barnies will fly right through your yard catching insects. Tree Swallows here usually say one note only, repeatedly, while hunting. I usually hear the purple martins before I see them--they always say hello, and you must search the skies much higher up than with a tree swallow. Also, TSs will flutter their wings rapidly, whereas the PMs look as if they're taking the equivalent of a leisurely stroll through the air.
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