Martin Gourds – Scouts

In rural Georgia, one of the surest signs of spring is the arrival of the Purple Martin: a migratory bird that’s making its first appearance around this time of year. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

In parts of Georgia, locals attract Martins with nesting boxes they make out of dried out gourds. Herman Ledford learned how to make Martin gourds from his grandfather, and each February, he starts to watch for the first of the Purple Martins.

“Well now, the scout, comes in here and he looks all this property over. He’ll come in and look all these gourds over and maybe he’ll stay here for a week or more, then he’ll disappear and you never see him no more for three weeks. These birds are waiting now; they’re a lot of them in the lower region of Georgia and a lot of them down in Florida. And he’ll go back and he’ll say ‘hey look here! We’ve got two poles up there and we’ve got 65 gourds on each one, now and that’s a lot of houses.’ And so they’ll gradually begin to come in.”

Some scientists are not convinced that those first birds of the season are scouting for nests, but no one denies that the Purple Martins return to Georgia every year.

“I’m sure that the same birds come back every year– the parents and also the young ones. And I know when they come in, Spring’s not too far away.”

We’d like to hear about the events that herald springtime in your part of the world. Please call our toll-free number, 1-877-PULSE-99. That’s toll free 1-877 PULSE-99.

Our special thanks to folklorist Maggie Holtzberg.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I’m Jim Metzner.

Martin Gourds - Scouts

In rural Georgia, the arrival of the Purple Martins is a sure sign of Spring.
Air Date:02/17/1999
Scientist:
Transcript:

In rural Georgia, one of the surest signs of spring is the arrival of the Purple Martin: a migratory bird that's making its first appearance around this time of year. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

In parts of Georgia, locals attract Martins with nesting boxes they make out of dried out gourds. Herman Ledford learned how to make Martin gourds from his grandfather, and each February, he starts to watch for the first of the Purple Martins.

"Well now, the scout, comes in here and he looks all this property over. He'll come in and look all these gourds over and maybe he'll stay here for a week or more, then he'll disappear and you never see him no more for three weeks. These birds are waiting now; they're a lot of them in the lower region of Georgia and a lot of them down in Florida. And he'll go back and he'll say 'hey look here! We've got two poles up there and we've got 65 gourds on each one, now and that's a lot of houses.' And so they'll gradually begin to come in."

Some scientists are not convinced that those first birds of the season are scouting for nests, but no one denies that the Purple Martins return to Georgia every year.

"I'm sure that the same birds come back every year-- the parents and also the young ones. And I know when they come in, Spring's not too far away."

We'd like to hear about the events that herald springtime in your part of the world. Please call our toll-free number, 1-877-PULSE-99. That's toll free 1-877 PULSE-99.

Our special thanks to folklorist Maggie Holtzberg.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I'm Jim Metzner.