Home | BIRD WORKSHOP | It's OFFICIAL ! | MEETING NOTES | Purple Martin Discs | POEMS | Newsletter | MEMBERSHIP | Acknowledgements | KiwanisTwilight Boat Rides | Pirate Days | Community Outreach | Purple Martins | Contact Us | Activities | Gourd Washing in Fall | Related links | BUCKEYE MARTINFEST | Martinfest Photos | Gallery of Photos | Martin Photos | State Mill
Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association

Please note: All newsletters can be e-mailed to your computer. (Saves postage and maybe a tree or two.) If you have access that way, please notify Margaret Frost: margaretfrost63@gmail.com and she will put you on the list.

Purple Martin News


As we hunker down bracing for the next weeks sub zero weather, it is time to reflect on our 2018 year. And what a year it was!!

Starting April 4th the first Martin arrived in the Portage Lakes Area. Each year it is like a child waiting for Santa Claus. It seems to take forever for that first bird to arrive to signal the start of SPRING. Once started, the Martins just kept coming. The official count was 217 nesting pairs, they laid a total of 1062 eggs, 946 hatched, and we fledged a NEW RECORD 897 babies.

Our annual March installation of the State Mill Road site with the Boy Scout Troop 336 went without a hitch. It always amazes how fast that site goes up. It takes less than 2 hours. Troop 336 is known as the PURPLE MARTIN TROOP. A title that is well deserved since they have worked with us since 2002. Our thanks to Scoutmaster Dale Messner.

Being PURPLE MARTIN CAPITAL OF OHIO requires us to spread the word about the benefits of not only Purple Martins, but all wildlife. Purple Martins, being people friendly birds, are perfect for introducing our youth to wildlife. It is our responsibility to provide a venue to use them as a teaching tool. We are very fortunate to have two school systems in our area whose leadership understands the value of this educational experience.

Beginning in 2013, each spring we have partnered with Summit Metro Parks to present a program to 8th grade Middle School students from both Coventry and Manchester. We have introduced over 1000 students to Purple Martins. Our thanks to Lisa King, Executive Director, Summit Metro Parks, Dr. James Robinson, Superintendent, Manchester Local Schools, and Lisa Blough, Superintendent, Coventry Local Schools for their continued support. Also, a special thanks to Mark Yokum and Jennifer Burns, the Science teachers that make the final arrangements and Sharon Roeck, our club's liaison.

Each year we partner with ODNR - Div. of Wildlife, Div. of Parks and Recreation, Summit Metro Parks, Akron Public Library and others to put on BUCKEYE MARTINFEST. This is a GREAT event for the general public to learn about Purple Martins and what PLPMA does to manage the population in the Portage Lakes Area. The 2019 event is scheduled for Saturday, June 22nd at 1:00 PM at the State Mill Road Launch Ramp West end of the Parking Lot.

We are now taking reservations for Nimisila Twilight Boat Rides to see the premigratory roost. Last year we had a bumper crop of fledglings. At one point it was estimated to be about 50,000 birds. Most evenings there were at least 30,000 birds. It is one of nature's most spectacular events. Rides start August 1st thru 31st.

The rides are sponsored by Portage Lakes Kiwanis with PLPMA beneficiary. Carol Hendrickson is in charge of reservations. Telephone her at: 330-801-5565. The cost of the ride is $30.00 per person. It is advised that reservations be made early as the rides generally sell out. Last year there were about 50 people on the waiting list.

The PLPMA would like to have a second boat. If anyone has an old pontoon boat that they would like to donate, have them call Larry Hunter at: 330-644-1540. Anyone wishing to donate funds please make checks payable to PLPMA and sent to: c/o Larry Hunter, 4737 Bickford Avenue, New Franklin, OH 44319. Please specify Boat Fund on the check. The cost to refurbish a pontoon boat, including batteries, electric motor and charger runs into several thousand dollars.

We want to thank outgoing President Paul /Toth for his service to the club. During his 9 year tenure as President, the PLPMA made tremendous strides. We started our outreach program to the schools, we started Nimisila Twilight Boat Rides, and we became PURPLE MARTIN CAPITAL OF OHIO to name a few of his accomplishments.

Kay Lukac is our new President. Kay has been active in the club or many years. She has done it all and is a real go-getter. As past presidents have elevated our club to new levels, we are confident that Kay will take us to an even higher level. We are very fortunate to have her as President.

On a sad note, Carol Langkamp passed away. Carl was a very special person. Without his support we would not be having the Nimisila Twilight Boat Rides. Carl let us dock the boat in front of his house and provided us with the electricity we needed to recharge the batteries. To E.J. and Greer Langkamp we extend our sympathies and thank them for their continued support. They allow us to dock in front of their house and they provide electricity. Without the support of good people like the Langkamps, we would not prosper. A big thank you to the Langkamp Family.

PLPMA meets the 1st Tuesday of the month at the Kiwanis Civic Center, 725 Portage Lakes Drive, Akron, OH 44319.

Dues are $10.00/year Individual $15.00/year Family

Send check to: PLPMA
C/o Larry Hunter
4737 Bickford Avenue
New Franklin, OH 44319

We have a lot going on and we need "Happy Volunteers" to grow and complete our Mission Statement: "To Propagate Purple Martins and to educate the public on the benefit of these birds for insect control."

Hope to see you soon

Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association

PS The Gardeners of Portage Lakes State Park need volunteers to help with the Bird & Butterfly Trail. Call Larry Hunter for info at: 330--644-1540


Brief report - Meeting: March 5TH at 7:00 – Kiwanis Civic Center, 725 Portage Lakes Dr.

Purple Martins have been seen in the southern US states. They are heading our way! Last year the first Martin appeared on March 27th at 11:00 AM. We have lots of preparations to make before they arrive here.

Nimisila Boat Rides are still on hold. Research is being done and we haven't given up hope yet. But very unlikely to happen in 2018.

Election of officers: Paul Toth, President; Chuck Seeley, Vice President; Carol Saurer, Secretary; July and Larry Hunter, Co-Treasurers


March Build new sites - Put up new sites

March 5 PLPMA Meeting - 7:00 Kiwanis Civic Ctr - 725 Portage Lakes Drive

March 24th Boy Scouts - State Mill Road, 9:00 AM
March 25 2:00 p.m. - Volunteers meet at the barn.

Directions: Rt. 93, Manchester Road, south of Rt. 619. Turn into the entrance to Portage Lakes Park. Turn left on first road after entrance. (Do not go straight - that will take you to the beach.) Pass offices and Astronomy Club bldg. Take road as it curves to the right then take first road off to the right. Parking is in front of the barn.

May 23 & 24th - 9:15 a.m. - Manchester 8th grade students (approx. 100) State Mill
May 29th, 30 & 31st - 9:15 a.m. - Coventry 8th grade students (approx. 160)
State Mill.

June 30th BUCKEYE MARTINFEST 2:00 - State Mill road





Next PLPMA Meeting:  March 7 at 7:00 – Kiwanis Civic Center, 725 Portage Lakes Dr.


2016 was another great year for the Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association. It seems that each year our program gets better.  Our Flying Purple Insect Eaters were very prolific.  176 nesting pairs laid a total of 825 eggs and fledged 728 babies.  The weather was perfect this year.  As you may recall in 2015 we had a rainy last week in June and we lost 117 babies.  At sites that we fed Martins scrambled eggs, the only casualties were a few from wet nest.  At sites not fed, we lost almost all the babies due to starvation.


The first Martin appeared on March 27th Easter Sunday at 11:00 AM.  There is something very special about sighting the first Martin.  It must have something to do with mankind’s eternal optimistic view of the future.


Luckily, the Boy Scouts from Troop 336 had erected the State Mill road site the week before.  Paul Toth spotted two Martins there on the 27th in the afternoon.  Our thanks to Scoutmaster Dan Amiot and his assistants for their help.


We did something very special this year at our State Mill Road site.  Partnering with Manchester Local Schools, Coventry Local Schools and Summit Metro Parks we introduced 300 eighth grade students to Purple Martins.  It took 5 days of 60 students per day to accomplish this.  Summit Metro Parks had two naturalists each day lecturing on the Tree Swallows and Purple Martins.  PLPMA had members staffing the migration game and egg feeding.  After lunch Larry Hunter gave his talk on Purple Martins in the classroom.  Our thanks to Lisa King, Executive Director of Summit Metro Parks.  Dr. James Robinson, Superintendent, Manchester Local Schools, Russell Chabody, Superintendent, Coventry Local Schools, and Principals and Teachers.  Many thanks to PLPMA members:  Kay Lukac, Ed & Louise Udovich, Chuck and Betty Seeley, Barry Terjesen, and Larry Hunter. 


We had to cancel Nimisila Twilight Boat Rides a week early.  H’owl did it happen?  If you haven’t guessed, nighttime predator owls found an abundant food supply. The Martin population went from 20,000 to 6 in three days.  We saw the owl on several occasions.  It most probably was a swamp owl.  No, the owl did not eat 20,000 Martins, but each time he caught one, the Martin probably let out a scream that caused all the other Martins to go airborne.  This disturbance going on periodically a night long caused the Martins to abandon the roost.


We ran into a problem with insurance for the boat rides. The cost is prohibitive.  The PLPMA will no longer be the sponsor of the rides.  However, upon approval of Summit Metro Parks, Portage Lakes Kiwanis will sponsor the boat rides as a fund raiser and the PLPMA will partner with the Kiwanis.  Kiwanis has agreed that profits from the event will be donated to PLPMA.  All boat ride checks will be made out to the P.L. Kiwanis.


People are always asking “How amazing is it when the Martins leave the roost in the morning?”  It can be seen on Doppler Radar.  Club member Ted Carter decided to find out.  Ted gets up at 4:00 AM, drives to Nimisila from Ravenna, launches his boat, and paddles to the reeds an hour before sunrise.  Not knowing the exact time for the spectacle, he waits.  It starts to get light.  The anticipation grows as he waits.  The sun comes up. Still no Martins.  Did they leave earlier?  Naw, that doesn’t happen.  He calls and gets the owl story.  There is always next year, Ted.


2017 should be a record setting year.  It all depends on how many Martins make it back.  We are adding three new sites this year.  Manchester Middle School, Coventry High School and Summit Lake.  Each year our program gets bigger and better.  The Guilford Lake site had Martins last year.  Hopefully, the Wingfoot Lake site will be occupied this year.  As we add sites in other areas, we introduce more and more people to Purple Martins.  A percentage of these people will become landlords and/or club members.


We are very fortunate to have Summit Metro Parks as a partner in our Outreach Program.  Being the PURPLE MARTIN CAPITAL OF OHIO, much is expected of us.  We are very fortunate to have all of the volunteers and all of the monetary donations.  Without all of this support we would be dead in the water. 


Thank you everyone!




March              Build new sites – Put up sites


March 7           Gardeners of Portage Lakes State Park – 6:00 Kiwanis Civic Ctr.

March 7           PLPMA Meeting – 7:00 Kiwanis Civic Ctr  - 725 Portage Lakes Drive


March 25         Boy Scouts – State Mill Road – 10:00 AM

March 25         Cavity Nesting Bird Workshop

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

PLPMA is a sponsor

Larry Hunter, Guest Speaker on Purple Martins

Info:  www.friendsofottawawr.org  or 419-898-0014

Limited space.  Must have reservations


May 17, 19 & 24 – Coventry Middle Schools 9:15-10:30 State Mill Road

                        Total of 200 Eighth Grade students


June 24th         BUCKEYE MARTINFEST – 2:00-4:30 State Mill road


August 1-31     Kiwanis Twilight Boat Rides at Nimisila.  Limited space. 

                        Make reservations NOW – Call 330-644-1540.







Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association Newsletter 051416

AHH!  Spring in OHIO or maybe we should call it “SUMFALWIN”.  We have all the seasons in spring. It sure is tough on early arriving Martins.  The first Martin arrived at 11:30 Easter Sunday March 27th at Site 4 (Judy and Larry Hunter’s).  Later in the day Paul Toth reported two at the State Mill Road Site.  Luckily the Boy Scouts from Troop 336 had put up the site on Saturday March 26th so we were prepared for their arrival.

When the weather turned bad we had 19 Martins back.  Site #4 had 11, 4 at State Road and 4 at Long Lake Beach Association.  One morning at Site 4 during the worse part of the weather only 7 showed up for scrambled eggs.  The next morning once again only 7, but a Martin stuck his head out of one of the gourds and didn’t come out.  The house was lowered and there were 4 Martins hunkering down to keep warm.  Three were able to fly and eagerly took eggs. Unfortunately, one ASY male was too weak to fly and died later.  It was banded in 2010 at site 11 about 500 ft. from where it died.  Lesson learned: be sure all Martins are out of the houses before you feed during inclement weather.  Apparently their natural instinct is to hunker down and wait out the weather.  After 3 days, they are in big time trouble.

If all goes well we should have a record number of fledglings this year.  The population of After Second Year birds appears to be about the same as the population that left last summer. (176 nesting pairs) So far we have lost only 6 birds. (2 killed by sparrows, 3 weather related, and 1 ASY female by other Martins) The Second Year birds are starting to arrive.  Hopefully, we will get a lot of these youngsters nesting.  Statistically, we should have a total of over 225 nesting pairs.

We want to thank all the EGG FLIPPERS:  Chuck & Betty Seeley, Mike & Connie Kofanovich, Judy Clapsaddle, Phil & Judy Pinnow, Paul Toth, Kay Lukac, Judy & Larry Hunter, Heather Jennings, Sandy Taylor, Carol Zeh, Ed and Louise Udovich, Pau Mumma, Sheila Wright and members of the Portage Lakes Secret Sisters.  Without their work we would have lost many, many more Martins.  Mike Kofanovich reported that he and Connie fed two dozen eggs in one day.  They feed at State Mill Road, Spillway, and Long Lake. Those birds are really hungry.

It is with great sadness that we report the loss of one of our most ardent supporters, Rosemary Donatell.  For years Rosemary scheduled our Egg Flippers. She epitomized what the Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association is all about:  Happy Volunteers doing what is necessary to propagate Martins and educate the public about the benefit of these birds.  She was always happy and a joy to work with.  She is missed.

In an effort to get our youth away from electronic gadgets and experience the wonders of our natural world, PLPMA with our partners, Summit Metro Parks, Manchester Local Schools and Coventry Local Schools have developed a program for 8th grade students to come to our State Mill Road Site to learn about Purple Martins.  Between both schools we have 300 students that we are introducing to Purple Martins.  Summit Metro Parks provides three Naturalists and the program which includes learning about Purple Martins and Tree Swallows, playing the Migration Game, and feeding the birds scrambled eggs.  The students got a big kick out of feeding the birds.

Our thanks to Lisa King, Executive Director and Pat Rydquist – Summit Metro Parks, Dr. James Robinson – Superintendent, Manchester Local Schools and Russell Chaboudy – Superintendent Coventry Local Schools.  Also to Summit Metro Parks naturalists, school principals, teachers and staff that made this happen.

Manchester Local Schools had their event May 4th & 5th.  Coventry Local Schools had their field trip May 20th, 26th, & 27th.  If you want to volunteer for similar programs, call Larry Hunter 330-644-1540.

BUCKEYE MARTINFEST  June 25th – 2:00 PM at State Mill Road site.  This is a great event to experience Purple Martins.  We will have over 60 nesting pairs with eggs or babies in all stages of development.  Several groups will have table top displays.  Be sure to play the Migration Game. Odds are you won’t survive the migration to Brazil.  Good Luck!

August 1st thru 31st are Nimisila Twilight Boat rides to see the Martin Roost.  We are over half booked for the year.  Cost is $25 per person.  For reservations, call Larry Hunter 330-644-1540.

PLMPA meets Sundays 2:00 at State Mill Road Site through June. Please come and enjoy the birds.

For those that are interested a new club has been formed called the “Gardeners of Portage Lakes State Park”.  Their mission is to develop and maintain a Bird & Butterfly Trail.  This sounds like a lot of work and volunteers are needed.  This project will be really neat when it’s completed.

The idea is to create in the park a natural environment for butterflies that is both educational and recreational.  The Girl Scouts installed bluebird houses and the PLPMA donated Tree Swallow houses and feeding stations for both seed eaters and hummingbirds.  Jeremy Brown’s Eagle Scout project is to develop a 1300 ft. Trail for easy access.  Summit Metro Parks donated seeds of various native plants.  Some will take three years to mature.

This is a community project.  Mike Studeny, Park Manager, has approved the project and planting will begin shorty as soon as the area is plowed. The Gardeners of Portage Lakes State Park meet each Tuesday 6:30 at the park on Manchester Road – first parking lot on the right after you enter the park.

That’s it for now.  We hope to see you soon. 








2015 What a year for the Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association!!  Actually, it all began on December 19, 2014 when thanks to the efforts of State Representatives Marilyn Slaby and Anthony DeVitis and State Senator Frank LaRose; Governor John Kasich signed the legislation that made the PORTAGE LAKES – PURPLE MARTIN CAPITAL OF OHIO.  History was made!!


Let the celebration begin and what a celebration it was.  Boy Scout Honor Guard with flags waving, local high school choirs performing, dignitaries speaking – it was GREAT.  Our motto is: “WE BUILD MEMORIES” and for those in attendance, this was a memorable experience. 


The first “Scout” martin appeared on March 20th at site #4.  It arrived 10 days early. Was this an indicator of global warning or was this just a stupid martin?  Whatever, he immediately took a scrambled egg offering.


Although from the lack of a master bander, we are no longer banding Purple Martins.  Two martins that we banded years ago were reported.  Our president, Paul Toth, found a banded AS’Y male (band number 2421-33680) at Long Lake Beach Assn site.  It was banded at our State Mill Road site on June 25, 2011.  The other was reported in Mercer, PA (about 40 miles NE of Youngstown).  It was banded in 2011.  This bird was live trapped and released.


BUCKEYE MARTINFEST 2015, despite the torrential downpour, was as successful as ever.  Pat Ryndquist, a Summit Metro Parks naturalist, opened the event with her enthusiasm for Purple Martins.  Jamey Emmert from the Ohio Division of Wildlife had a display of tanned hides and a mounted green heron.  Jim and Margaret Frost represented Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves.  Andy Udovich, son of Louise and Ed, fascinated both young and old with his origami skills.  It was amazing to see him convert an ordinary piece of paper into a beautiful bird.  As always the highlights are feeding the Martins scrambled eggs and carrying the babies for parasite inspection.  What fun!  Plans are already in the works for BUCKEYE MARTINFEST 2016.  Saturday June 25th 2:00 at the State Mill Road site.  Mark your calendars.


Our statistics for this year are not as good as we had hoped.  We had 172 nesting pairs. They laid a total of 826 eggs, hatched 668, but we fledged only 536.  The rain the last week in June killed 105.  Many of these died from wet nest, however, sites that were not fed scrambled eggs lost almost all of their hatchlings.  These daily feedings really matter.  It would have been much worse without the efforts of all Rosemary Donatell’s volunteers.  A big THANK YOU  for saving so many Martins.


Our Nimisila Twilight Boat Rides began August 1st and each year over 250 people get to experience the awesome display of the migrating Martins.  We are so lucky to have one of natures’ spectacles in our backyard.  People came from as far away as Maryland to see it.  Nick Sopko, Tom Burge, Paul Toth and Larry Hunter were captains of the boat.  We were fortunate to have Summit Metro Parks’ naturalists on board most evenings to identify all the different bird species.  Our appreciation to Lisa King, Director, and Mike Greene, Supervisor for their cooperation.


Nimisila is now managed by Summit Metro Parks.  We reported that other boaters were disturbing the roost.  The next day their personnel arrived with over 2000 feet of buoys on ropes and they roped off the entire area.  People don’t realize that these are wild animals and if we scare them off, they might not come back.  We can’t let this happen.  For reservations for boat rides, call Larry Hunter 330-644-1540 after Jan 1st.  Cost is $25 per person.  Our thanks to E.J. Greer and Carl Langkamp for allowing us access to Nimisila and for providing electricity to recharge our boat batteries.  Without their support, these rides would not happen.


We partnered with Suzanne Saikaly’s Girl Scout Troop, putting up Bluebird houses at Portage Lakes State Park.  At each Bluebird house we installed a Tree Swallow house.  Since Tree Swallows and Bluebirds are nest site competitors, we believe the Tree Swallows preferring to nest higher will use our poles and because they are territorial will defend the Bluebird houses from other Tree Swallows.  We installed 10 Tree Swallow houses.


In preparation for the 2016 season, we have installed Purple Martin houses and Tree Swallow houses at Wingfoot Lake State Park.  Our thanks to Liz and Dave Belvin for volunteering to manage this site.  Also, we added a new site at Ed and Louise Udovich’s. 


The Martin House at Guilford Lake had nesting pairs this year.  Coni Biggs has started a Guilford Lake Purple Martin Association.  Those that live around Guilford Lake should join this organization.  Call Larry Hunter for further info.  330-644-1540.


We try to acknowledge as many of our members as we can for all their help throughout the year.  We would be remiss not to mention Chuck and Betty Seeley and Kay Lukac.  Chuck Seeley designed our PORTAGE LAKES – PURPLE MARTIN CAPITAL OF OHIO trifold.  We received a grant from the Akron Summit County Convention and Visitors Bureau to print 1500.  We ran out and had to reprint another 1500.  For those getting the newsletter via E-mail, please call and we will be happy to send you one.  We have enclosed one for the snail mail people.


Betty Seeley made the display for the Portage Lakes Library advertising BUCKEYE MARTINFEST.  What an excellent job!  Our thanks to Cheryl Luck, manager, for allowing us space at the library for the display.


Kay Lukac raises money for our program.  We don’t know how she does it, but she manages to get us huge donations from different sources.  All the money we raise goes to “Educate and Propagate” which is our mission statement.  A really big THANK YOU to all the people who have sent in donations.  Without your support our mission would be considerably curtailed.


A special Thank You to Mike Studeny, Manager, Portage Lakes State Park for his support of our program. 


Looking forward to the 2016 PURPLE MARTIN SEASON, we are eagerly awaiting the first arrival.  Plans for the year are already in place.  The calendar is set. 


Jan. 12th – PLPMA meeting 6:30 Kiwanis Civic Center, 725 Portage Lakes Dr, Akron OH.

March 26th – Boy Scouts put up State Mill Road Site

May 4th & 5th – 9:00 a.m. Manchester Middle School 8th grade students have a field trip to State Mill Road site

May 20th, 26th, and 27th – Coventry Middle School 8th grade students have a field trip to State Mill Road site.

June 25th – BUCKEYE MARTINFEST State Mill Road site.

August 1st – 31st – Nimisila Twilight Boat Rides – Reservations required.


We want to thank Russell Chaboudy, Superintendent, Coventry Local Schools and Dr. James Robinson, Superintendent, Manchester Local Schools for allowing their students to have a field trip to learn about Purple Martins.  Also, thanks to Summit Metro Parks for providing naturalists to administer the program.  Over 300 students will experience our Purple Martins.


With each passing year, our program gets bigger and better.  We have inspired other communities to follow our lead.  Being the PURPLE MARTIN CAPITAL OF OHIO has given us a lot of credibility across the nation and we can all share in the satisfaction of our accomplishment. 


That pretty much wraps up 2015 with one exception – our hope that all of you had a Merry Christmas and our wish that you have a Happy New Year.




P.S.  Because of all your support and work, I was distinguished as EARTH HERO by Summit Metro Parks.  There is an area at Seiberling Nature Realm that explains what the Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association has done.  We are all Earth Heroes.  None of this would have happened without you. 


Click here for past newsletters.

Click here for map to pre-migratory roost launch site.