An estimated 11,000 Purple Martins have made their annual month-long stop in Richmond on their way south to Brazil. And, on Saturday evening, July 31 several hundred humans showed up at the 17th Street Farmers’ Market to celebrate at the annual Gone to the Birds Festival. The first wave of Purple Martins arrived about two weeks ago and are likely to stay for another couple of weeks. But, of course, Mother Nature is in control of the schedule here. According to the Audubon Society:
“The August sun is bright and hot. With so much summer fun left, the last thing you want to think about is winter—unless, that is, you’re a purple martin. Uttering musical chirps and raspy twitters, these large, loud swallows hawk dragonflies and, as the day ends, swirl like coal smoke around trees, rising, settling, finally roosting. Within hours they’ll strike out for Bolivia, Paraguay, and Brazil. You’re apt to encounter purple martins almost anywhere in the contiguous states. And while they’re not as common as a century ago, they’re recovering in some areas of the East thanks to multi-unit “purple martin hotels” erected by bird lovers. The eastern subspecies has been conditioned to artificial nest sites for centuries, first by Indians, who hung out gourds for them. Now it’s almost entirely dependent on nest boxes. Hotels with two dozen or fewer rooms work better than bigger ones. Rooms should be at least six inches on a side, and it’s important to provide good ventilation and drainage. A coat of white paint will help cool nests by reflecting sunlight. Be sure to place the hotels in the open and mount them on high metal poles. And to discourage house sparrows and starlings plug entrance holes until martins show up.”
There are more events and festivals scheduled at the Farmers Market, including a Chef’s Cook-Off, a Shocktoberfest, and a Brunswick Stew festival. SCHEDULE. That’s all in addition to the regular market days with Growers’ Markets on Thursdays and Saturdays, Red, White & Brew on Fridays from 5 PM to 9 PM, and Vintage and Growers’ Markets combined on Sundays.
When you’re planning your trip to Richmond, keep an eye out for special events like these, and join us at our historic Fan District bed and breakfast for a glimpse of Richmond like no other!