Thousands of Purple Martins nest in Bobby's Bama - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Thousands of Purple Martins nest in Bobby's Bama

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Jerral Johnson lives on the land his forefathers settled, but for the past 20 years he shared this beautiful place with purple martins. Jerral Johnson lives on the land his forefathers settled, but for the past 20 years he shared this beautiful place with purple martins.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Jerral Johnson lives on the land his forefathers settled, but for the past 20 years he shared this beautiful place with purple martins. In fact, it is reported to be the largest colony of purple martins. "I needed something to do when I retired, and got started from there," said Johnson.

After some inspiration, he said he began collecting gourds to house the feathered friends, and he started a colony, "One pole at a time."

So what is it about these birds that attract so many people?  Johnson said it's simple. "The sound,the chatter. It's unique. There ain't nothing like it."

His land is also home to other watchable neighbors. "Well, we got Canadian Geese. This is kind of their home. They nest and raise here. We feed them, and we got a pair of swans, got some ducks and some domestic geese of different kinds and colors. Lot of people bring their kids here just to sight see and just to sight see and see the wind mills."

Randall Dupree has helped Johnson for years, "He had heard about a fellow who had some satellite dishes that turned upside down, so he went and looked at them and told me, and so we went everywhere getting satellite dishes."

Dupree is the builder of the nest worthy condos. He said natural gourds last 3 to 5 years and the plastic gourds will last 20, so they are slowly switching over. "One thing that's good about them, I don't have to brush and repaint them, but the whole front will come out of the plastic ones, and you got a big opening to clean them out."

Since most of these nesters will return over and over again, that's a lot of cleaning for a lot of Martins. "It's probably around 25 hundred", says Dupree.

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