Bird: Purple Martin (Progne subis)

Length: 8"

Description: A large bird that looks and flies like a swallow. The male is dark and glossy purple with head, wings and tail all dark. Distinguish from swallows in flight using all dark breast of male (tree swallow has white breast and is smaller). Tail is shallowly forked. Females and juveniles are mostly gray with mottled gray and white breast and some purple highlights on back. Yearling male has glossy purple helmet and dark wings with white breast.

Voice: Very loud and chattery, metallic staccato squeaks and chirps intermixed with buzzes and clicks. Audio is available at

Purple Martin 1
Al Liberman

Feeding: Catches insects in flight. Agile flyer, darts and swoops to pick prey out of air. Especially fond of mosquitos and is very effective at controlling mosquito populations.

Behavior at Wakodahatchee: The earliest males arrive in April to "scout" out good nesting sites. They usually decide to breed in one of the two Purple Martin houses by the second Gazebo. By May, flocks of Martins fly all around the park, and they can be heard chattering around the houses. Purple Martin flocks remain and breed through the end of July when the migration continues. The full story of the Purple Martin at Wakodahatchee can be found on a plaque near the Martin Houses (Wilma Zane is the expert).

Purple Martin 2

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