First found by Evan Lipton and Liam Waters on the evening of 30 July 2019. Kathy Eklund refound the birds the following morning. Myself and Melody Asher observed the martins that evening of 31 July 2019.
LOCALITY OF OBSERVATION
The Purple Martins were observed flying all around Lake Cleveland in the Albion Mountains of Cassia County. Additionally, their nest cavity was observed on the northwest side of the lake in a cluster of snags which jutted out into the lake.
Specific coordinates of the nest site: 42.3219, -113.6501
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
High-elevation lake dominated by firs with lodgepole pine in the vicinity. The pair was nesting among a cluster of snags which jutted out into the lake about 100 m.
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
The birds were observed well from as close as 30 m away for about half an hour. Great scope views and binocular views of the birds perched at nest cavity and in flight. It was very windy, overcast, with cool temps. A very even light about the landscape.
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
Yes, later the same day
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
No, not at all
WHICH GUIDE(S) OR REFERENCE(S): DID YOU CONSULT?
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
Clearly in the family Hirundidae (swallows) by the slim shape, long wings, small bill, and constant, agile aerial flight. The martins were much larger than nearby Tree Swallows with a distinctly decurved bill and deep tail notch. Themale was unmistakably dark bluish-black all over. The female had a classic pale gray forehead, gray collar with dark face and cap, dark upperparts, pale grayish-white underparts.
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
Upon arrival, the female perched in the cavity hole for about 10 minutes. Then the male flew in carrying food and she left. After that, both sexes left and came back with food throughout the observation period. Twice, the Purple Martin's distinct bubbly call was heard in the context of both sexes in the same spot. The martins' flights were direct and powerful compared to the Tree Swallows in the area. No interaction with neighboring Tree Swallows.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
The distinct bubbly call heard upon arrival confirmed Purple Martin in the vicinity. Upon seeing the female perched in the cavity, her large size, pale gray forehead, gray collar, and distinctly decurved bill told me that I was seeing a female Purple Martin. When the male came into the nest, the all dark plumage and large size were unmistakable.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
All western swallow species were ruled out by sheer size and direct, powerful flight pattern alone. The bubbly call of Purple Martin's is very distinct from the chips and twits of other western swallows. The male's plumage and size are diagnostic. Cliff Swallow may be briefly confused with female Purple Martin but that was ruled out by habitat and the grayness to the plumage of the Purple Martin.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
Very experienced with Purple Martins having observed them extensively in Kansas. Very experienced with western swallows having been avidly birding a long time in Idaho.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
Extensive. I have been avidly birding nearly all my life, particularly in the intermountain west.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (If any)
A link to the Ebird checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58607888
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
FIRST ROUND VOTING:
Nice documentation of nesting Purple Martins.
excellent photos and description confirm the identification
This was totally convincing documentation of nesting Purple Martins.
Description good, photographs good, this bird was seen by dozens..
Very descriptive and fun report to read which laid the scene of an excellent breeding record for this species. Discussion of identity and calls good with diagnostic photo confirming the identification. Again, great discovery.
Wow, yes. Extensive documentation of this great discovery, here and elsewhere.