150,000 Purple Martins are dazzling the skyline of Nashville

Before flying down to Brazil for the winter, a flock of rare Purple Martins has chosen a rather unusual place to rest up: the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in downtown Nashville. Okay, a flock of birds roosting in an urban area isn’t all too uncommon, but did we mention how many Purple Martines are calling Nashville their temporary home? An estimated 150,000!

For birders and bystanders, the massive flock is creating a mesmerizing sight each evening as the birds are known for their aerial acrobatics as they fly in unison. They are expected to stay in downtown Nashville for the next week or two.

Of course, witnessing 150,000 birds fly together is quite incredible, but it’s also a bit of a headache for the city. The birds collectively drop a lot of poop, and the trees they are resting on are in rough shape too, with their limbs drooping under the weight of these tiny travelers.

The symphony center had actually called a pest control crew to fog out the flock, but fortunately, biologists from the Tennessee Ornithological Society were already out on the symphony plaza when the crew showed up. They informed the crew of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and called wildlife agencies to enforce it, which prompted the pest removers to back down.

“They didn’t know, and now we all get a chance to celebrate this spectacle,” said biologist Melinda Welton.

Apparently, the symphony center was simply trying to protect the $100 million building from expensive damage. In the past, the symphony center has had trouble with starlings, an invasive species, and they assumed that’s what was making such a mess this time. Now that the identification error has been corrected, the symphony is welcoming birders nightly to enjoy the display.

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