- Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Spectators have gathered to watch tens of thousands of birds swirl like black leaves in the sky to roost in a row of ash trees in Omaha.

Each evening in late summer, numerous purple martins and a lesser number of grackles and starlings swirl around the trees located along a street at the Nebraska Medical Center to eventually settle for the night, the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1LeT74P) reported.

Several dozens of people, including the Omaha Youth Birding Group, stood nearby to watch the cloud of birds on Saturday.

“It is pretty unbelievable to see this,” Loren Padelford said as platoons of birds swarmed low, lifted up and swirled back around. “And this is so close to home.”

Tisha Johnson, a volunteer master naturalist and an educator at Fontenelle Forest, described the birds’ chatter like a rushing waterfall, calling the sound like “nothing else.”



This roost, known as the Midtown Martin Mecca, is among the confirmed sites on the national list kept by the Purple Martin Conservation Association. Omaha birder Jim Ducey estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 martins were at the Saturday roost.

Max Rieke, a sixth-grader at Oakdale Elementary School and a member of the youth birding group, said the huge numbers of birds, their antics and noise are what draw him. This is the second year he and his mother have visited the roost.

“It is amazing that of all the trees in Omaha, they come to these,” said his mother, Cindy Rieke.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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