The Uphill Slide

There is always something.



A local said, “It’s a treasure. We do something everyday with it.” He was talking about Lake Chautauqua. It was a warm summer-like day this past Saturday but during the night it rained. I awoke to overcast coolness.  But enough of the weather.

This man was not an employee of the New York State Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation but had permission to erect his purple martin houses at the marina of Long Point State Park. That’s where I met him. He had one of the birdhouses at people height. The birds were gone. Off to the Amazon according to my informant. I excused my ignorance of purple martin habits by saying I was not a ‘birder’. Not knowledgeable.

I asked questions. The martins will return in April. The males come first, to check out accommodations perhaps, then fly off to bring back females. The birds will stay until August and fill all of his houses. There will be babies. The houses are metal-clad wood with entrances designed to keep out the wrens and sparrows. Hanging beneath the houses are faux gourds. I grew and dried those bird house gourds on a frame one summer. I like the authentic better but can see the practicality of plastic for cleaning and reuse.

On Sunday he was checking if the bees had moved out. He didn’t want to disturb them hearing of their plight. They were gone but left drippings on the clean white houses. He was waiting for all the bugs to die off and then would clean out old nests and abandoned eggs. There was a corner nest with three or four eggs and one on the entrance just waiting for a kick out the door. That’s what martins do with the no-good eggs. Push them out.

Next April this man will return to crank up the houses and gourds for the return migration. If you’re interested in relaxing or hiking along the water and watching purple martins, stop at the marina at Longs Point State Park along Lake Chautauqua.

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