Fledging !


Last Year

Hatch: June 21st, Fledge: July 18th

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Welcome to Gazebophil.com

This website features live coverage of the hatching, feeding and fledging of the largest swallow in North America:

The lovable and fascinating Purple Martin

Yep, this is live.  And don't forget to turn the sound up.

And tell the kids!

Our Purple Martins arrived in late April/early May and will depart in August not long after the chicks leave the nest.  We call this fledging. The chicks call it scary.  Not long after fledging, the whole family (including the new members) will fly off to their winter home in Brazil, really -  Brazil! And come back next year. Cool!

The column on the right is written by a young naturalist from the Connecticut Audubon Society. (Scroll down for photos of some of Connecticut Audubon’s faithful). These neo Darwins are the only wise men and women standing between a busy shore line of birds galore (see our exterior camera video at low tide) and an empty wasteland of man-made decay. Audubon volunteers work to ensure your grandchildren will actually see a live Purple Martin.  

Scott Kruitbosch's piece at right offers information about Connecticut's Purple Martin world, including our population at

Purple Martin Acres by the Sea

Your questions welcome.

Here are links created by bird lovers who became as fascinated with this drama as were the slaves who lived in colonies in early America.  They placed real gourds, carved out, on a pole or a high clothes line.  These imprisoned people must have watched enviously as the free Purple Martins spent the whole day swooping out and about, back and forth in non-stop daily feedings and finally, their departure for the flight back to Brazil.  

You will find everything you wanted to know about Purple Martins at these websites:

And (really important to us) make a donation to:
Connecticut Audubon Society 
Stay with us throughout the breeding season and all the way to fledge in August.  Did I forget?  Turn the sound up. And tell the kids. 
Gazebo Phil

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Fledglings flying as Martins migrate

I have been seeing Purple Martins flying over my Connecticut home in the last week which, being far from any colony, means they are dispersing and already migrating south! The last of our Purple Martin families, only a handful, are about to fledge from their gourds as we have entered August. A very small number of isolated gourds in Connecticut still have nestlings that are being fed and are nearly to fledgling stage. These birds are pushing the limit of being able to successfully make it south before cool weather threatens their bug supply. The vast majority of the residents finished raising their young in mid to late July. When tuning in during August while the cameras are still up you may see some birds that are actually from other gourd trees. Perhaps they came south from another nearby state, or maybe they are from a different Connecticut gourd, scoping out a new home for next year.

Young birds will get a view of gourds like these as they disperse from their birthplace, and then see even more possible future homes as they move south. At some places like Martin Acres by the Sea, there are no vacancies. However, some sites where Connecticut Audubon Society has erected or assisted in setting up new gourd trees will have a great chance at attracting these birds. What we want to see most in the fall migration are more band returns via keen-eyed observers who spot a Connecticut color banded bird and report it to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Don’t forget that our martins from Gazebo Phil’s have red bands, while any other color with “CT” on it and a number comes from elsewhere in the state.

Migration is the most perilous time in a bird’s life. It has been proven repeatedly that the greatest mortality risk comes during this period of uncertainty and exertion. Whether it is being caught in a storm, captured by a predator, flying into a window or another man-made object, or simply starvation, all of the birds moving south have a tremendous number of hurdles to conquer. Those who do will hopefully have a pleasant stopover in South America this winter. If you have appropriate Purple Martin habitat – a large open area preferably near water – look into becoming a landlord. It will be a very rewarding experience as you aid the growth of a threatened species that is entirely dependent upon humans for their survival in the eastern United States. Thank you all for tuning in and enjoying the show with us again this past season.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Questions From Our Visitors

Q: Over what area does a purple martin eat insects? -- Sam V., Cincinnati,USA

A: Purple Martins will forage primarily in open areas as this is where the insects they are looking for are concentrated. This may be over water, fields, grasslands, farmlands, lawns, and more. These are the best places to find flying insects for these agile birds.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician

Q: Our babies are getting ready to try out their wings. Once they jump the gourd, will they return to it for the evenings, or is that and we won't see them anymore? I'm sure there will be more than one tear or two out here when that happens! -- Carol P., Bridgeport,CT

A: The young may end up roosting somewhere else nearby in a safe location rather than returning to their gourd once they are of a certain fledged age. Initially they will probably return with their parents but it will not be long before they have a little more independence. You still may see them together as they learn to fend for themselves during the daylight hours.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician

Q: Sparrows evicted but keep coming back trying to make new nests and lay eggs. Time to start trapping. My two chicks have just fledged. Curiously two days ago, after I cleaned the nest and placed them on pine shavings, they left their original nest and moved into a different compartment. I figured they couldn't have done that unless they were flying. Larry -- Larry W., yellow springs,OH

A: Good luck and stay persistent! Even if they are unable of flying at a high skill level they may be able to take short little flights to move around.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician

Click HERE for more Questions & Answers!

Dear Gazebophiles,

Below is a letter we received from a U.S. soldier in Iraq. Pardon our pride, we are all pumped around here knowing that our BHU (Bird Housing Unit) is playing a CSU (Combat Housing Unit) somewhere in what is probably a lousy neighborhood.

For our soldier visiting us: Thanks, Ms.W. (You didn't tell us your rank) You made our day. You might say, we're tickled purple!


I am an active duty Soldier, currently stationed in Iraq, as part of the combat stress control team. I can't tell you how great it has been the last few weeks, to check in to your webcam, in anticipation of the arrival of a nesting pair of these beautiful and interesting birds. And how exciting it is to watch them begin to set up house in the gourd. I love to hear the whole flock- my CHU (Combat Housing Unit) is filled with their songs. I have sent the site to my team members and am certain they are watching in wonder, as well. I will be giving it to many of our stresed out soldiers, too. It is a very wholesome, relaxing and stress-reducing activity! Thank you for setting this up! I am eager to follow the progression from setting up house, to flight of the fledgelings!

Glenda W., IRAQ

Light Box
Laurie Doss,
volunteer, banded birds
Tom Mitchell,
volunteer, opened bands
Milan Bull,
CAS Senior Director of Science and Conservation
Geoffrey Krukar,
CT DEEP staff, banded birds and recorded data
Audra Valailis(L)
CT DEEP staff, banded birds and recorded data
Barbara Mitchell(R at gourds),
volunteer, transported birds
Gazebo Phil Dr. Twan Leenders,
CAS Conservation Biologist
Laurie Fortin,
CT DEEP staff, banded birds
Ann Murray,
volunteer, aged and weighed birds
Tammy Conley,
volunteer, transported birds
Scott Kruitbosch(L),
CAS Conservation Technician

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