Caught on radar: Thousands of purple martins taking off from Portage Lakes

Every August thousands of purple martins roost and feed in Nimisila Reservoir—one of 13 bodies of water that make up Portage Lakes, known among wildlife enthusiasts for great fishing and bird watching.

On Friday, the purple martins showed up on the radar. At a quick glance, their presence looks like rain.

At dusk, the swallows swirl around like a tornado before choosing a reed bed for the night, according to the Summit Metro Parks.

The Nimisila Reservoir is a prime spot and considered the capital for purple martins because the insect population provides a good food source for the birds.

If you're up early, you can hear the blissful sound of this native songbird known for its aerial acrobatics and chattering song.

Purple martin nest gourds via Summit Metro Parks website.

East of the Rocky Mountains, purple martins almost always depend on housing supplied by humans when they cannot find a reed bed, according to the Purple Martin Conservation Association.

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