Mayflies and Purple Martins

If there was any dought that Spring is in the air, there certainly wasn’t when I opened the car door and got swarmed with the Mayflies.

Walking from our cottage to the Warriors Cottage, I had to walk through roads of swarms. That’s not a mistypes, I said roads. They are so heavy this years that I had to put my hand over my nose and mouth when I was walking to keep from having them up my nose or swallowing’s them.

Confused mayflies wreak havoc on a Pennsylvania bridge | Science News
Mayfly Swarm

The Mayflies really aren’t the most pleasant thing about Spring, though the don’t bite, they sure leave a mess behind them when they all suddenly die and you have to sweep them up. Then there’s the getting in the house and having them sticking to you clothes and as I mentioned, being in your face when you are outside for anything. But, like everything, there’s some good things about Mayflies.

Their hatching happens over a few weeks but each one only live from hatching to death for 24 to 72 hours. In that time the Spring Birds fill-up on high protein meals to fatten up and get ready for laying. The heavier the population of Mayflies, means the healthier the water ways are and my favorite part, they arrive at the same time as the Purple Martins.

As I was standing waiting for a wood delivery at the Warriors Cottage, I looked up and seen the flock meet the swarm. Meaning I watched a flock of Purple Martins flying through the swam having themselves a high protein dinner. In-spite of having thousands of the Mayflies swarming around me, it made me happy to see the Martins back.

Purple Martins — Madison Audubon
Purple Martins

The next morning Christina and I were sitting in the cottage when I looked out the window to realized I had female Martins sitting in my tree. I took this as a subtle hint that we needed to get the birdhouses back up in the trees.

The next morning we hung half the birdhouses up in the Tree of Life.

The Tree of Life

Climbing in the tree to hang of the birdhouses caused an upset for Momma Dove who had already nested and hatched two chicks. She flew up in air in a thither and sat on a telephone line watching what we were up to. Once the guys were done messing with her tree she returned to see we had done no harm and retook her position sitting on her nest.

Mourning Dove Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Morning Dove

Within two hours of putting the birdhouses up, I got to share the house selecting process with Christina.

As we sat and watched, the first of the two females flew from house to house looking inside each hole before selecting which house she wanted. While she made her selection, the second of the two sat on a branch and waited. After she had chosen her house, the second who was smaller and I am guessing younger, repeated the pattern selecting her home.

In a short period of time we watched them return with grass in their beaks and entering the houses, then leaving again to return the with more grass. This process filled the Martins day.

Next weekend we will be hanging more house that still needed some adjustment made to them. Only these ones won’t be going up in the Tree of Life. Instead, they will be going in another tree on the property. The nesting process has begun and we don’t want to upset Momma Dove again or the new families who moved in to the Birdhouse Condos in the Tree of Life.

We’re learning as we go along on how to be good Birdhouse Landlords. This year we learned, if Spring comes early so does the nesting. Which means I should start doing my repairs in February not March which Momma Dove has made very clear. Lesson learned.

18 thoughts on “Mayflies and Purple Martins

  1. Maybe it’s just me, but I think Mayflies are cute. It’s too bad they swarm in such numbers – Mobflies : ) Birds may be the world’s jolliest creatures. It’s standing room only there at the Martins’ place. Enjoyable post

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  2. How amazing. I can’t imagine walking through swarms like that. It’s something that doesn’t happen here – or not to me anyway. But it does feel like life is bursting forth all around us. Beetles and buzzing insects, salamanders and newts in our pond, and birds nesting everywhere. A magical time of year, whichever side of the world you live on!

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    1. Well, I can’t say I love the Mayflies, but I also know they are short-lived and feed the birds so we will with them. I am excited about the babies and am looking forward to seeing who has moved in this week while we were home.

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  3. Hello. I love your post. Reminded me of living back in St. Louis. I used to sit and watch all the hummingbirds fly back and forth to the three feeders we had near our patio. My fondest memory was of the doves who would yearly come and remake a nest on the elbow of our downspout outside the kitchen window. Every year a momma dove would set up housekeeping and bring her babies into the world. I would keep water in the birdbath and I would sprinkle birdseed or old bread on the ground ( which would bring all the birds in the area for me to watch).

    One morning, when I opened my kitchen blinds, there was an extra surprise. Apparently all the doves that had used this spot for their spring nesting, decided to have a family reunion. Not only was there a new tenant in the downspout elbow, but the fence around our little yard was lined with doves. They had ALL come home. There had to be over a dozen roosting and cooing on the fence and pecking at my yard for food. I personally think they came just to say hello, thank you, and to make me smile. Thank You for sharing your story and for blessing my day. Victoria

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    1. You just made me smile. I love the idea of them all coming home. The Purple Martins do that and it’s one of the biggest pleasures of seeing each generation coming back. I am actually at the cottage right now and listening to the Morning Dove. She is my favorite bird sound.


  4. Aw never seen Purple Martin’s. They look so cute all lined up. Good on you being such brill landlords. We do have Swallows and House Martin’s, Swift’s and Sand Martin’s arrive here in April. They are a sure sign of Spring here in the UK.

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    1. This weekend we put up more of the houses as more of the females showed up. But we also had more adjustments to make as the females didn’t seem to like the size of the openings and we had to make them a bit bigger. I guess if they were too small they were afraid of getting stuck inside. Can’t blame them.


  5. I love every bit of this. Isn’t it amazing how mother nature sends the mayflies and the purple martins in together? Thus, fulfilling their (the mayflies) purpose. It’s so awesome watching the birds. The Eastern Bluebird pair we have this spring continue to inspect one of my birdhouses. They fly in and out of it as if to claim it but as of today still have not brought nesting material. I wonder when they will decide for sure if this high-rise apartment is good enough. LOL

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  6. I so enjoyed this informative post. Spring does bring with it lovely birds. But..Do you have any advice on getting rid of pigeons that have taken over my balcony? Fake plastic birds don’t work. Looking forward to your next adventures.

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  7. wow. . . what a precious moment to see birds selecting their home! and then beginning the nesting process . . .If I’d been asked, I would have guessed that this is never seen! awesome experience just reading about it . . .

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