The Purple Martin Society, NA


What Are Purple Martins?

A special thank you to Mr. Joe Dellinger for his generosity in allowing us to use his photos. 
We are most appreciative. Meet Joe on his webpage. He is a remarkable young man.

Purple Martin adult male with The Purple Martin is a beautiful songbird, the largest North American swallow and the only species of martins on this continent. While spending a portion of every year in the backyards of those who are devoted to it, this steely and iridescent blue-black bird also spends its winters in the Amazon River basin and as far south as the São Paulo State in Brazil. Each spring, flying on the southern edge of warm weather advancement, 

Purple Martins faithfully return to the backyards of their landlords (the people who put up martin housing) in North America for their breeding season.

Purple Martin adults traditionally return as warm spring weather returns. Typically, adults return to their previous successful homesites. Adult martins are followed by many waves of younger birds, or subadults, six weeks after the adults. These subadults are the martins which colonize new martin housing and gourds.

Purple Martin breeding season is approximately a 70-day cycle while the birds are with us in our backyards. During this time, Purple Martins are busy building their nests, laying their eggs, raising their young and bringing happiness to their devoted landlords.

After the nestlings have been nurtured for 27-32 days in their nestbox, the young are strong enough to fledge from their nests and test the uncertain skies of martin life. The young and their parents stay in their nestboxes for another 10-14 days and roost in the trees until they leave on their migratory trip. Back to their wintering grounds in Brazil, an arduous journey of many miles, much of which is over great expanses of water.

Purple Martins at sunset at Lake Yahola, near Tulsa, OK.

Interest in Purple Martins has been an American tradition, that has waned in the decades known more for urban sprawl. However, in these times of fast paced lives and the earth being perceived as threatened human habitat and a shrinking orb, interest in birding in general has grown to a  5 billion dollar a year interest, according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. With this renewed interest and economical boon in nature and wildlife, interest in Purple Martins and their elusive pursuit has been rekindled.

Imagine, if you will, that there were no more beautiful songs to be heard from Purple Martins. Imagine, again, that no martins were seen flying their wonderful acrobatic flights over the US terrain any longer. Imagine, that no one even remembered what a Purple Martin looks like. It could happen! While martins may be faring well in their southern breeding areas, the fact is that these beautiful songbirds are becoming more and more uncommon north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Because Purple Martins, east of the Rocky Mountains, are completely dependent on humans to supply their nestboxes (birdhouses) in order to breed today, they need interested and informed human hosts to help perpetuate their numbers for the future. The Purple Martin Society is the national Purple Martin landlord organization that educates and unites martin landlords in the common goal of bringing the tradition of Purple Martins back .

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The Purple Martin Society wants to help you be successful in your Purple Martin endeavor!
"Keep 'em Flying!"