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PURPLE MARTIN - Species Profile

This largest member of the Swallow family maintains a rigorous migration from South America to the US and Canada year after year. The Purple Martin is a favorite bird for many reasons...aerial acrobatics, insect control, and conservation of these friendly and amazing long distance migrants.


The annual trek from South America not only brings these swallows back to the US...but to the specific house where they lived the year before. Males usually arrive in April, ahead of the females. Early arrival can endanger entire flocks because snowstorms can eliminate the insects these birds depend on for food.

Ideal habitat is a grassy, open streamside, a river bottom, marsh or forest opening near a lake or pond. The best garden habitat includes lawns and meadows that are near large bodies of water. Pastures and golf courses are are cemeteries and large parks.


NESTBOX: 7x7"+, 2" Hole Purple Martins have become totally dependent on humans for housing east of the Mississippi, but are common across most of the country. Some apartment dwellings have up to 200 compartments, but they like single dwellings, as well.


Insects, insects, and more insects. They are entirely insectivorous. They eat a wide variety of flying insects of all sizes. Martins forage high in the air, out in the open. They do appreciate a helping of crushed egg shells in early spring to fortify their calcium intake to make their own eggshells thick and strong.


Water sources are important to all birds, especially during frozen winter spells and hot dry summer days. These birds prefer natural water sources, and that is one reason they dwell near bodies of water.


Swallows are such awesome fliers that their best defense is flight. That's why they want wide open spaces. They do appreciate extra landing perches on their apartment buildings and on nearby highline wires.


When the fledglings fly, some 4 weeks after hatching, the colony leaves the nesting house for the return to the very same location the following spring.

For more articles about NATURE & KIDS

Young Birders Get Serious About Birding Fun
The Squirrel Family 0 Backyard Nature Safari
Hamsters are rodents and cuddly pets
Kids Learning Links
Buddy's Diner (for the birds)
Bird Profiles for Young Naturalists