Monthly Archives: September 2018

Festival of Hawks 2018

Festival of Hawks

Saturday September 15 – Sunday September 16, 2018

Saturday September 22-Sunday September 23, 2018

Join the experts from the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory for this annual celebration of the great migration. See thousands of raptors and other birds as they make their journey south. This festival features kid-friendly activities, nature-themed vendors, and a wide range of free programming. Adopt a hawk and banding activities will take place.This is your chance to take in this unique natural spectacle at one of the top bird watching sites in North America. Holiday Beach is ranked as the top hawk watching site in Canada by Audubon Magazine, and the third best in all of North America.

 9 am – 3 pm daily; $15 a day/car

Holiday Beach Conservation Area – 6952 County Rd. 50 W., Amherstburg

Join the OPMA experts at their tent by the Hawk Tower as they continue to describe their work with  declining purple martins . Members will be on hand to answer your questions about the species, migration, roosts, housing set ups and more-all in full view of the purple martin colony.

Pelee Roost Numbers Tumble

After visiting the Pelee Roost on Friday, September 7, it has become apparent that the roost has really dwindled and the North-Northwest winds have triggered the migration south. Numbers of martins were down from the 5000 or so  and the swallow numbers were few as well. Most of the martins struggled high in the sky against the prevailing wind before heading in to the roost. After making two circles , around the marsh area where they roost, the 500 or so martins settled in at 8:20 p.m. The view as always was  spectacular especially when  they executed their  vortex decent.

One more visit next week will probably be the last time  the roost is visited for this year.

Hawkfest Needs Your Help

Hello OPMA members,
Once again we are planning to be part of the Hawkfest activities at Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO).
This is a 2 weekend event:   
September 15-16 …….. September 22-23 
We have a crew that will set up our booth and displays on Friday the 14th, but several volunteers are needed to “man the booth” throughout these 4 days for each 3-hour shift:
9 am— 12   ………………..   12—3 pm each day 
If you’ve never been to Hawkfest, you’ll find it very interesting.    There is always a display of “education” birds – owls, and various other raptors, and visitors get a close up look at them as well as various songbirds that are captured for banding.    The experts provide great stories and information.    Hawkfest also features a variety of vendor booths, and of course, the Purple Martin housing, which is a joint venture between OPMA and HBMO, can be seen.    
The main involvement of our OPMA volunteers is to talk with people, freely sharing their knowledge and experiences.    (At our MartinFest in July, the wonderful interaction between our OPMA volunteers and the public was a major part of our success, and probably the very best way to impart our knowledge of and excitement for our hobby!)
So, we hope to have enough volunteers to fill these time slots, and help us promote Purple Martins!     if you can help, please contact Paul Hamel by email ( or phone (519-738-3476).   Paul has been given an entry code by HBMO which will allow our volunteers to enter the park without paying the public entry fee.    This code will be provided prior to September 15th to those who will be volunteering.
Mary Wilson

Time to Clean and Repair Purple Martin Houses and other Nestboxes

Nesting season has ended and now is the time to prepare for next season. We suggest you not only clean out your Purple Martin  gourds and houses but Tree Swallow and  Eastern Bluebird boxes too.

Take a good look at them. Do you see any damage? Are there any cracks that need to be sealed with caulk? If you see anything about your box, nesting tray, predator guards, winches ,poles, pulleys that might pose a hazard to birds now is the time to make repairs. Don’t forget also to check the post footing to see if it is cracked or the soil around the pole has separated.

After any necessary repairs, return your nest boxes to a safe  place out of the elements or return them to their original location. Block the holes with a metal piece, turn the nesting tray around to block the entrance  or cover the entire house with a suitable bag until Spring arrives. Aluminum Purple Martin houses do quite well in the winter as long as entrances are blocked. Plastic gourds on the other hand, can be stored inside out of the elements in an exterior building.


Pelee Roost on the Decline

After an increased number of martins settled into the roost peaking on August 20th, it appears now that they are moving on to other roosts south of Ontario. The number of Purple Martins counted on Friday, August 31, 2018 was approximately 4000, much lower than the 40,000 at their peak. The visits to the roost have been quite enlightening as the martins continue to exhibit behaviours never seen before by this observer. Many questions have arisen with regard to  their approaches, flyways and staging areas at Pelee. Flight patterns and flyway corridors seem to have been used for several decades at this site but there really doesn’t seem to be any previous observations reported as a point of comparison. The prevailing winds for the most part were out of the south, south-west with only a couple of nights of winds from the north, north -west . Hopefully, there will still be a few nights to view the smaller roost during the first week of September. The image below shows how small the roost has become on September 2, 2018.