On Their Way!


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 will arrive 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 naturalists 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 and an empty wasteland of man-made decay. Audubon volunteers work to ensure your grandchildren will actually see a live Purple Martin.  

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


Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center

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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Fledged and Gone!

We were waiting anxiously for our young Martins to leave the nest, as we expected them to head out into the wild blue yonder any time. After all, they were nearly ready to fly when we banded them on July 11. Probably instigated by curious raccoons climbing on the pole, they left the nest sometime on Sunday.

We’ll see if the parents bring them back to the nest to roost for a few nights before they leave the colony for good this year.

Now comes the hard part, they must learn how to catch flying insects as well as avoid predators and find their way to Brazil! For now, however, they will remain in the neighborhood, then join other Martin groups and finally begin their trek south in September.

GazeboPhil watchers will note that some of the other Martins have not yet fledged. We have a delayed hatching this year with a whole range of age groups among the gourds! Nonetheless, they must all be fledged by mid-August as they prepare for a long flight south.

Until then we will keep the cameras rolling!

Connecticut Audubon Society

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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