Brazil’s Purple Martin Treat
AS SUMMER ends in central Brazil, the inhabitants of such cities as Barretos, Bauru, and Rio Claro get a special treat from watching the birds. Their senses respond to the sights and sounds of thousands of migratory purple martins roosting in the trees of their public plazas. Each day as the sun sets, these birds fly in from the fields, converging en masse, staking their perches for the night. In so doing, they shower the excited bird-watchers with a blizzard of tiny feathers. Although a recent drought caused the martins to change their roosting habits, it was calculated that some 50,000 of them occupied one plaza alone in Bauru. Television stations made it possible for the spectacle to be seen throughout Brazil.