Purple Martins are a bird species that has maintained a joyful association with humans for centuries. They are extremely popular and are often spoken about by bird enthusiasts. As these birds are mostly dependant on insects, they are never found in the northern portion of North America. Here are some facts and attributes associated with these magnificent creatures!
10 Amazing Facts About Purple Martins
1. Purple Martins are the second-most studied swallows in the entire world!
Mostly because Purple Martins nest in bird houses, they have been extensively studied by ornithologists.
2. Their nesting patterns have undergone an enormous change since the 19th century!
Not many other birds have flourished due to human association as Purple Martins have. In the 19th century, most of these birds used to nest in abandoned Woodpecker holes, but now they nest exclusively in bird houses. These birds are well-loved by people, so several bird houses have been constructed for them. As a result of these bird houses, Purple Martins are able to breed in a much larger geographic range. Bird houses for this species have become so common that they contribute significantly to the profitability of the bird house industry.
3.There’s a special term for Purple Martin lovers!
Ever since Purple Martins became backyard birds, their popularity has increased drastically. Certain individuals like to refer to themselves as “Martin Enthusiasts.” This is just a testament to the cultural importance of Purple Martins. Many websites and national organizations have forums in which Purple Martins are discussed in detail.
4.Purple Martins are one of the largest swallow species in the world!
Purple Martins are the largest species of swallows that breed in North America. Although these birds are quite large, they are not able to compete with other birds for nesting sites. Purple Martins are not nearly as aggressive as House Sparrows and European Starlings. If it came down to it, these two species of birds would kill adult Purple Martins to acquire nesting sites. If human interference was absent, these birds would make it extremely difficult for Purple Martins to survive by altering nest cavities.
5. Populations of Purple Martins can be eliminated due to bad weather!
Unfavourable weather conditions are hazardous to Purple Martin populations. In many instances, northern populations have been completely wiped out due to bad weather conditions. Although these areas are soon inhabited again in the years following by fewer Purple Martins, this is a real problem for these birds. Through the years, Purple Martin populations have moved south. It’s great that bird houses are readily available for these birds, otherwise, their survival would have been extremely difficult.
6. Purple Martins are opportunistic in regards to their breeding sites!
Historically, Purple Martins have resided in wetland habitats and forest edges. Since this species has become extremely popular visitors to human-made bird houses, their breeding habits have changed significantly. These birds are currently flourishing because of this transition. Before they were almost non-existent in urban areas and now they occupy areas in large cities. Although plenty of data is available about these swallows, observing the distribution of this species does not indicate their habitat requirements.
7.Most Purple Martins return to their breeding sites!
Purple Martins return to their breeding sites as long as they are suitable. Most landowners that facilitate bird houses are over the age of 50. As the younger population is not as concerned about the well-being of Purple Martins, their bird houses have not been given as much attention. Also, not all people have the resources to maintain these structures. In other cases, Purple Martin nests are altered by other birds, making it impossible for them to nest in them. If significant changes are made to their breeding sites, Purple Martins search for new ones. Young Purple Martins rarely return to their old nesting sites.
8.Almost all Purple Martins nest in bird houses!
Purple Martins are not as inclined to stay in natural habitats as they have been in the past. Humans have been providing them shelter and sometimes food, so they are benefiting immensely from this. Grounds close to human settlements are the most suitable for them now and protect them from harsh climate changes and the scarcity of food.
9.Male and female Purple Martins compete for incubating the eggs!
Several instances of Purple Martin pairs competing for egg incubation have been observed. Females primarily incubate the eggs, but males assume this position in the absence of females. When the female returns she finds it very difficult to displace the male from his position. In this case, she has to get below the male and drive him away physically. All in all, it’s a very comic display which would delight an enthusiastic birdwatcher!
10.Purple Martins regularly indulge in agonistic encounters!
It is a characteristic of Purple Martins to protect themselves. Adult males protect their territories from other males, and females attack other females. These encounters are repetitive and violent, often causing severe injury to the involved parties. Unpaired Purple Martins are always on the lookout for potential breeding territories. If suitable sites are not found, they frequently challenge territory holders. Most of these battles are won by territory holders, but some challengers are persistent in their efforts and successfully drive the territory holders away.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At the Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
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Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Purple Martins
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Purple Martins are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.