Purple Martin

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image: purplemartin.jpg

Common Name: Purple Martin

Scientific Name: Progne subis

Size: 8 inches (20cm)

Habitat: North America; throughout the United States except the west coast.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 11,000,000 mature individuals. Once listed as “Vulnerable”, the Purple Martin has been down listed to “Least Concern” thanks to “Martin House” projects.

Diet: Mosquitoes and other flying insects.

Breeding: It nests in open country—rural areas and especially around water. It builds its nest from leaves, grass, feathers and mud in small cavities and tree snags. It also favors man-made “Martin Houses” on the Eastern portion of its range.

Cool Facts: The Purple Martin is the largest swallow found in the Americas. It was at one time found throughout the United States, but now is now rarely found on the west coast. It spends summers in North America and winters in South America.

It eats insects primarily in the air, though has been known to eat ants on the ground. Some towns have actually installed “Martin Houses” as their insect control measures.

Its decline has been due to forestry policies of eliminating standing dead trees (which provide nesting areas). Also, there is competition for nesting sites from two introduced birds, the House Sparrow and the European Starling. Starlings have been especially aggressive. The solution have been “Martin Houses” which are too small for the starlings to enter, allowing the Purple martin to stage a comeback.

Found in Songbird ReMix Threatened Endangered Extinct 1

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