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
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
miles, much of which is over great expanses of water.
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
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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Martin Society wants to help you be successful in your Purple
"Keep 'em Flying!"