Purple Martin festival postponed, birds haven’t been spotted

Posted at 6:12 PM, Jul 29, 2013
Purple Martins

Photo from 2012 of Purple Martins in Shockoe Bottom

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) –  In Richmond’s historic Shockoe Bottom, there are two constants every year, a new plan to locate a baseball park there and the massing of the Purple Martins.

Richmond’s Purple Martin Festival has been postponed for several weeks because none of the birds have been spotted.

The annual festival at the 17th Street Farmers Market has been rescheduled  in Shockoe Bottom for Saturday August 24, from 6 to 9 p.m.

[WATCH: Mark Holmberg’s 2012 story on the Purple Martins]

Richmonders gather in the Bottom for sunsets around this time every year, to see the wondrous aerial convention of these unconventional colonial acrobats.

This is only one of two spots in the country where these big, colonial swallows gather before their long flight to Brazil.

Why they return to this precise spot every year is something of a mystery.

But there’s a theory: For about three centuries, farmers brought their vegetables to the market there, which attracted lots of insects – food for the birds.

No reason has been offered yet for their delayed arrival.