Purple martin

The purple martin (Progne subis) is the largest North American swallow. They are known for their speed and agility in flight, and when approaching their housing, will dive from the sky at great speeds with their wings tucked.

Purple martin
PurpleMartin cajay
Adult male
Progne subis -Chicago, USA -female-8
Adult female
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Progne
P. subis
Binomial name
Progne subis
Progne subis map

Hirundo subis Linnaeus, 1758

Description and taxonomy

Purple martins are a kind of swallow, of the genus Progne. Like other members of this genus, they are larger than most of the other swallows. The average length from bill to tail is 20 cm (7.9 in). Adults have a slightly forked tail. Adult males are entirely black with glossy steel blue sheen, the only swallow in North America with such coloration. Adult females are dark on top with some steel blue sheen, and lighter underparts. Subadult females look similar to adult females minus the steel blue sheen and browner on the back. Subadult males look very much like females, but solid black feathers emerge on their chest in a blotchy, random pattern as they molt to their adult plumage.[2]

This species was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 as Hirundo subis.[3] The current genus name refers to Procne (Πρόκνη), a mythological girl who was turned into a swallow to save her from her husband. She had killed their son to avenge the rape of her sister. The specific subis is Latin and refers to a type of bird that breaks eagles’ eggs; it may have been applied to this species because of its aggression towards birds of prey when it is nesting.[4]

The species of this genus are very closely related, and some view the purple martin, gray-breasted martin, snowy-bellied martin, and southern martin, as a superspecies.[5]


  • P. s. subis, is the nominate form, with the typical features of the species, breeds in eastern and mid-western North America.
  • P. s. hesperia of the Mexico and the southwestern United States, is distinguished primarily by its nesting habits.
  • P. s. arboricola of western mountains is large with females paler on underparts.

Distribution and habitat

Progne subis -fledglings -Tulsa -Oklahoma-8
Fledglings in Oklahoma, United States

Purple martins' breeding range is throughout temperate North America.[6] Their breeding habitat is open areas across eastern North America, and also some locations on the west coast from British Columbia to Mexico.[7] Martins make their nests in cavities, either natural or artificial. In many places, humans put up real or artificial hollow gourds, or houses for martins, especially in the east, where purple martins are almost entirely dependent on such structures. As a result, this subspecies typically breeds in colonies located in proximity to people, even within cities and towns. This makes their distribution patchy, as they are usually absent from areas where no nest sites are provided. Western birds often make use of natural cavities such as old woodpecker holes in trees or saguaro cacti.[2][5]

The purple martin migrates to the Amazon basin in winter. Its winter range extends into Ecuador[8] but does not seem to ascend far up the Andean foothills.

The first record of this species in Europe was a single bird on Lewis, Scotland, on 5–6 September 2004, and the second was on the Azores on 6 September 2004.

Conservation status

Purple martins suffered a severe population crash in the 20th century widely linked to the release and spread of European starlings in North America. Starlings and house sparrows compete with martins for nest cavities. Where purple martins once gathered by the thousands, by the 1980s they had all but disappeared. [9]

Adults around gourds and nest boxes in a garden in Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States

Griggsville, Illinois

Nest boxes in Griggsville, Illinois

Relationship with humans

The population of eastern purple martins (nominate form P. s. subis) is dependent on artificial martin houses of wood or aluminum and fake plastic gourds, supplied by individuals and organizations fond of the bird. This tradition was in place even before the population crash; The Cherokee Indians were known to have hollowed out the gourds in the pre-colonial era. They erected them so that the adult birds would build nests and then feed thousands of insects to their young each day that would otherwise be eating their crops. The situation requires continual maintenance, as European starlings and house sparrows compete with martins as cavity-nesters, and will fight with martins over nest sites. Starlings have even been known to kill purple martins, especially nestling young, and house sparrows have been known to evict purple martins from their nests. Thus, unmonitored purple martin houses are often overtaken by more aggressive, non-native species.[2] Purple martin proponents are motivated by the concern that the purple martin would likely vanish from eastern North America were it not for this assistance.[10]



Wintering in South America, purple martins migrate to North America in spring to breed. Spring migration is somewhat staggered, with arrivals in southern areas such as Florida and Texas in January, but showing up in the northern United States in April and in Canada as late as May. Males usually arrive at a site before females.[2]

Fall migration is also staggered, as birds head south when the breeding season is over. Some birds leave as early as July and others stay as late as October. Martins generally migrate over land, through Mexico and Central America. When not breeding, martins form large flocks and roost together in great numbers. This behavior begins just prior to the southern migration and continues on the wintering grounds.[2]


Progne subis -Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA -eggs and chicks in nestbox-8
Eggs and small chicks in a nest box in Oklahoma, United States

Males arrive in breeding sites before females, and establish their territory. A territory can consist of several potential nest sites. After forming a pair, both the male and female inspect available nest sites. This process is complicated by the fact that artificial nest sites could be houses with many rooms, clustered gourds, or single gourds. The nest is made inside the cavity of such artificial structures and retains a somewhat flat appearance. The nest is a structure of primarily three levels: the first level acts as a foundation and is usually made up of twigs, mud, small pebbles and in at least a few reported cases, small river mollusk shells were used; the second level of the nest is made up of grasses, finer smaller twigs; the third level of construction composing the nest, is a small compression usually lined with fresh green leaves where the eggs are laid. Three to six eggs are laid, and the female is the main incubator, with some help from the male. Purple martins are generally known to raise only a single brood. Fledging, when the young leave the nest, occurs at about one month, after which the parents continue to feed the fledgling young.[2]


Purple martins are aerial insectivores, meaning that they catch insects from the air. The birds are agile hunters and eat a variety of winged insects. Rarely, they will come to the ground to eat insects. They usually fly relatively high, so, contrary to popular opinion, mosquitoes do not form a large part of their diet.[2] Recent research, however, does indicate that the Purple Martin feeds on invasive fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) and that they may make up a significant portion of their diet.[11]


Purple martins are fairly noisy, chirping and making sounds that have been described as chortles, rattles, and croaks.[5] The various calls are said to be "throaty and rich" and can be rendered as tchew-wew, pew pew, choo, cher, zweet and zwrack. The males have a gurgling and guttural courtship song, a dawn song, and even a subsong used at the end of the breeding season.[5][12] Tapes of purple martin song are sold to attract martins to newly established birdhouses.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Progne subis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Brown, Charles R. Purple Martin (Progne subis); The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole (eds.). "Purple Martin - Introduction". Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 1 November 2009.
  3. ^ Linnaeus (1758
  4. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 317, 371. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  5. ^ a b c d Turner, Angela K.; Rose, Chris (1989). Swallows & Martins. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 7, 123–126. ISBN 0-395-51174-7.
  6. ^ Attenborough, D. The Life of Birds. 1998. BBC p 297. ISBN 0563-38792-0
  7. ^ See AOU (2000) for details.
  8. ^ Guayas and Orellana Provinces: Cisneros-Heredia (2006).
  9. ^ Hunn, Eugene S. (1982). Birding in Seattle and King County. Seattle Audubon Society. pp. 107–108. ISBN 0914516051.
  10. ^ "Purple Martin Conservation Association". Archived from the original on 2012-07-30.
  11. ^ Helms IV, Jackson A., Bridge, Eli S., Godfrey, Aaron P, and Ames, Tayna. (2015): The Purple Martin Update. "Fire Ant Exterminators". 24-27.
  12. ^ Peterson (1980): p.202


  • American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) (2000). Forty-second supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds. Auk 117(3): 847–858. DOI: 10.1642/0004-8038(2000)117[0847:FSSTTA]2.0.CO;2
  • Cisneros-Heredia, Diego F. (2006). "Información sobre la distribución de algunas especies de aves de Ecuador". ["Information on the distribution of some species of birds of Ecuador"]. Boletín de la Sociedad Antioqueña de Ornitología 16(1): 7-16. [Spanish with English abstract]
  • Linnaeus, Carolus (1758). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata (in Latin). Holmiae. (Laurentii Salvii). p. 192.
  • Peterson, Roger Tory (1980). A Completely New Guide to All the Birds of Eastern and Central North America (4th ed.). Houghton Mifflin, Boston. ISBN 99975-1-436-X.

External links


Atticora is a genus of bird in the swallow family Hirundinidae. These species are found in South America.

It contains the following two species:

White-banded swallow (Atticora fasciata)

Black-collared swallow (Atticora melanoleuca)

Caribbean martin

The Caribbean martin or white-bellied martin (Progne dominicensis) is a large swallow.

It breeds on Caribbean islands from Jamaica east to Tobago. It is closely related to two species to which it used to be considered conspecific-P. sinaloae (Sinaloa martin) and P. cryptoleuca (Cuban martin). There are sight records from mainland Central and South America, and most birds appear to migrate to the South American mainland. A single bird was recorded in Key West, Florida, on May 9, 1895 (AOU 2000).

It has at various times been considered alternatively as a race of the purple martin, Progne subis.

Cuban martin

The Cuban martin (Progne cryptoleuca) is a large swallow endemic to Cuba.

It is closely related to the Caribbean martin, P. dominicensis which breeds on Caribbean islands from Jamaica east to Tobago, and the P. d. sinaloae (Sinaloa martin) from Mexico.

It has at various times been considered alternatively as a race of the purple martin, Progne subis.

Adult Cuban martins are 18.5 cm in length, with a forked tail and relatively broad wings, and weigh 40 g. Adult males are a glossy blue-black with contrasting white lower underparts. Females and juveniles are duller than the male, with grey-brown breast and flanks and white lower underparts.

The Cuban martin nests in cavities in banks and buildings, or old woodpecker holes. 3-6 eggs are laid in the lined nest, and incubated for 15 days, with another 26-27 to fledging. Just as the purple martin, this species may compete with other passerines for nesting cavities. In particular, the main foe is the house sparrow in urban areas, where they mostly use man-made structures, whereas in more rural locations Picidae holes in coconut trees are favored, and there is less competition with the sparrows.

Cuban martins are gregarious birds which hunt for insects in flight. Their call is a gurgly chew-chew.

Enid, Oklahoma

Enid (ē'nĭd) is a city in Garfield County, Oklahoma, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 49,379, making it the ninth-largest city in Oklahoma. It is the county seat of Garfield County. Enid was founded during the opening of the Cherokee Outlet in the Land Run of 1893, and is named after Enid, a character in Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King. In 1991, the Oklahoma state legislature designated Enid the "purple martin capital of Oklahoma." Enid holds the nickname of "Queen Wheat City" and "Wheat Capital" of Oklahoma and the United States for its immense grain storage capacity, and has the third-largest grain storage capacity in the world.

Forest swallow

The forest swallow (Petrochelidon fuliginosa) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.

It is found in Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria.

Government Island (Oregon)

Government Island is a 1,760-acre (710 ha) island in the Columbia River north of Portland, in Multnomah County, in the U.S. state of Oregon. Though Interstate 205 passes over it on the Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge, access to the island is only by boat. There is a city controlled locked gate in the 205 fence.

The Government Island State Recreation Area includes 15 miles of shoreline, with two docks on the northern side of the island. The interior of the island is accessible only by permit and contains protected natural areas, such as Jewit Lake. Camping is permitted below the vegetation line around the perimeter of the island. Picnic tables and restrooms can be found in these areas as well.Government Island is home to a variety of animals, notably a great blue heron colony that has been on the island for at least a decade. Many threatened or endangered wildlife species live on the island, including red-legged frog, pileated woodpecker, little willow flycatcher, olive-sided flycatcher, western meadowlark, horned grebe, red-necked grebe, bufflehead, purple martin, and possibly the endangered Columbian white-tailed deer.

Government Island’s first documented visitors were British explorer William Robert Broughton in 1792 and American explorers Lewis and Clark in 1805. The island acquired its current name after being appropriated by the U.S. military in 1850 to grow hay. An old barn and other structures can be found on the interior of the island from when it was privately owned and settled by a small number of families.Most of the island is owned by the Port of Portland. The Port acquired the entire island, along with the adjacent Lemon Island (45°35′33″N 122°34′00″W) and McGuire Island (45°33′49″N 122°27′54″W), in 1969 in order to expand nearby Portland International Airport. Though those plans have been abandoned, the Port continues to control the land to prevent any uses incompatible with its location under the airport's primary flight path. In 1999 the Port sold 224 acres (91 ha) of the island to Metro, a regional government agency, and leased the remainder to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department for 99 years.In July 2014, three people were stabbed on Lemon Island during a party of several hundred people that was hosted there without a permit from Oregon Parks & Recreation.

Griggsville, Illinois

Griggsville is a city in Pike County, Illinois, United States. The population was 1,258 at the 2000 census.

Island View Beach

Island View Beach is located on the Eastern Cordova shore of the Saanich Peninsula, near Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

A real treasure for people who like quiet nature settings, with views of Mount Baker, and Islands of the Gulf Island National Park Reserve. (Sidney Spit-(Sidney Island) and D'Arcy Island)

Families and Nature Enthusiasts will enjoy walking the many meadow trails, to learn about the various plant and animal species. ( not all trails are accessible for persons who require hard flat surfaces). There is several kilometers of shoreline for walking, with excellent shorebird viewing, and millions of interesting rocks along the way.

Much of the southern part of the foreshore make up the public Island View Beach Regional Park. Long inhabited by the native [Coast Salish peoples], the Tsawout First Nation has a reservation fronting much of the northern end of the beach. The Tsawout have been living and gathering seafood from the ocean and well as gathering local medicinal plants, as part of the culture for thousands of years. The first known European visitors were James Douglas and first mate Scott M. Jenkin in the latter half of the 18th century. Located southwest of James Island, to locals it is known as the "Beach of Destiny". Located at Homathko and Puckle Road, public parking. There is a public campground (part of the regional park) which is open for the summer season from the Victoria Day long weekend in May to the Labour Day long weekend in September.

Visitors should be aware there is off leash dog restrictions from June 1 to September 15. Dogs should be kept on leash in beach and picnic areas and are not allowed to stay overnight. Island View Beach Regional Park ("I-View") is a BC Regional Park, therefore facilities are located for those who are in need of garbage cans and or washrooms. Island View Beach has a boat launch for access to Haro Strait and the Cordova Channel.

Visitors and Nature Photographers are treated in the spring and fall, to view migratory birds that stop here to rest and feed . Presently there is concern in conservation of the Beach, Sand Dune, and Salt Marsh that support a vast eco system, (endangered Species) within the Island View Beach area. An outdated park plan exists, which is presently under review, and will be updated to reflect conservation strategies.

The Island View Beach terrain consists of beach, dune, and marshland, that supports a wide range of local wild animal and plant species. Due to human activity over the last century this ecological area has placed local wild animal and plant species to possible risk, and endangerment.

Possible species at risk have been identified as:

Contorted Pod Evening Primrose,

Sand Verbena moth,

Common Night Hawk,

Bank Swallow,

Barn Swallow,

Marbled Murrelet,

Olive-sided Flycatcher,

Peregrine Falcon,

Horned Grebe,

Great Blue Heron,

Short-eared Owl,

Long-billed Curlew,

Western Grebe,

Ancient Murrelet,

Band-tailed Pigeon,

Georgia Basin Bog Spider,

Common Murre,

Brandt's Cormorant,


Cackling Goose,

Long-tailed Duck,

California Gull,

Surf Scoter,

Red-necked Phalarope,

Purple Martin,

Yellow Sand-verbena,

Beach Bindweed,

American Glehnia,

Fleshy Jaumea,

Black Knotweed,

Double-crested Cormorant,

Snowy Owl,

Caspian Tern

Lemon Creek (Staten Island)

Lemon Creek is a stream located on the South Shore of Staten Island in New York City. It is one of the few remaining ground-level creeks in New York City.

List of birds of the Sierra Madre Occidental

This is a list of birds whose range includes, at least in part, the Sierra Madre Occidental, a mountain range in western Mexico and the extreme southwest of the United States.

Bright-rumped attila, Attila spadiceus

Lazuli bunting, Passerina amoena

Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus

Mexican chickadee, Poecile sclateri

American dipper, Cinclus mexicanus

Blue-hooded euphonia, Euphonia elegantissima

Cordilleran flycatcher, Empidonax occidentalis

Hammond's flycatcher, Empidonax hammondii

Pine flycatcher, Empidonax affinis

Evening grosbeak, Coccothraustes vespertinus

Yellow grosbeak, Pheucticus chrysopeplus

Rusty-crowned ground-sparrow, Melozone kieneri

Blue-throated hummingbird, Lampornis clemenciae

Broad-tailed hummingbird, Selasphorus platycercus

Magnificent hummingbird, Eugenes fulgens

White-eared hummingbird, Hylocharis leucotis

Mexican jay, Aphelocoma ultramarina

White-tailed kite, Elanus leucurus

Black-throated magpie-jay, Calocitta colliei

Purple martin, Progne subis

Buff-collared nightjar, Antrostomus ridgwayi

Pygmy nuthatch, Sitta pygmaea

Elf owl, Micrathene whitneyi

Flammulated owl, Otus flammeolus

Spotted owl, Strix occidentalis

Whiskered screech-owl, Megascops trichopsis

Thick-billed parrot, Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha

Western wood pewee, Contopus sordidulus

Band-tailed pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata

Elegant quail, Callipepla douglasii

Montezuma quail, Cyrtonyx montezumae

Eared quetzal, Euptilotis neoxenus

Painted redstart, Myioborus pictus

Townsend's solitaire, Myadestes townsendi

Five-striped sparrow, Amphispiza quinquestriata

Rufous-crowned sparrow, Aimophila ruficeps

Plain-capped starthroat, Heliomaster constantii

Vaux's swift, Chaetura vauxi

White-throated swift, Aeronautes saxatalis

Flame-colored tanager, Piranga bidentata

Hepatic tanager, Piranga flava

Red-headed tanager, Piranga erythrocephala

Bridled titmouse, Baeolophus wollweberi

Spotted towhee, Pipilo maculatus

Hutton's vireo, Vireo huttoni

Plumbeous vireo, Vireo plumbeus

Yellow-green vireo, Vireo flavoviridis

Golden-browed warbler, Basileuterus belli

Grace's warbler, Setophaga graciae

Hermit warbler, Setophaga occidentalis

Red warbler, Cardellina ruber

Red-faced warbler, Cardellina rubrifrons

Yellow warbler, Setophaga petechia

Acorn woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus

Arizona woodpecker, Picoides arizonae

List of city nicknames in Kansas

This partial list of city nicknames in Kansas compiles the aliases, sobriquets and slogans that cities in Kansas are known by (or have been known by historically), officially and unofficially, to municipal governments, local people, outsiders or their tourism boards or chambers of commerce. City nicknames can help in establishing a civic identity, helping outsiders recognize a community or attracting people to a community because of its nickname; promote civic pride; and build community unity. Nicknames and slogans that successfully create a new community "ideology or myth" are also believed to have economic value. Their economic value is difficult to measure, but there are anecdotal reports of cities that have achieved substantial economic benefits by "branding" themselves by adopting new slogans.Some unofficial nicknames are positive, while others are derisive. The unofficial nicknames listed here have been in use for a long time or have gained wide currency.

Andover – Where the People are Warm Even When the Weather Isn't

Baxter Springs – First Cowtown in Kansas

Beattie – Milo Capital of the World

Cassoday – Prairie Chicken Capital of the World

Cawker City – Home of the World's Largest Ball of Twine

Dodge City

Queen of the Cowtowns

The Wickedest Little City in America

Garden City – Cutting Horse Capital

Girard – Printing Capital of the Nation

Haysville – Peach Capital of Kansas

Jennings – Czech Us Out

Kansas City


Heart of America

Kirwin – Goose Capital

La Crosse – Barbed Wire Capital of the World

Lansing – City With a Future

Lawrence – River City

Lenexa – Spinach Capital

Leoti – Pinto Bean Capital

Liberal – The Land of Oz

Lindsborg – Little Sweden

Manhattan – The Little Apple


Rhino Capital of Kansas

Town Between Two Lakes

Marysville – Black Squirrel Capital

Norton – Pheasant Capital of Kansas

Olathe – Cowboy Boot Capital

Parsons – Purple Martin Capital

Pittsburg – Fried Chicken Capital

Quinter – Half Mile High City

Russell Springs – Cow Chip Capital of Kansas

Topeka – Top City

Wellington – Wheat Capital of the World


Air Capital of the World

The Emerald City


Wilson – Czech Capital of Kansas

Windom – Covered Dish Capital of the World

Maplewood Flats Conservation Area

The Maplewood Flats Conservation Area is a 126 hectare (310 acre) conservation area located in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The area is composed of a 96 hectare (237 acre) intertidal zone of mudflats and salt marsh, and a 30 hectare (74 acre) upland area. It is preserved by Port Metro Vancouver as one of their ecological land initiatives. The land is located approximately 2 km east of the Second Narrows Bridge along Burrard Inlet in North Vancouver (20 minute drive from Vancouver city centre).

Montgomery (village), New York

Montgomery is a village located in Orange County, New York, United States, 60 (97 km) miles northwest of New York City, and 90 miles (140 km) southwest of Albany. The population was 3,814 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger New York–Newark–Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area. The village is named after General Richard Montgomery, an officer of the American Revolution.

The Village of Montgomery is inside the Town of Montgomery.

Operation Purple Martin

Operation Purple Martin was a US Marine Corps operation that took place in northwest Quảng Trị Province, lasting from 15 March – 2 May 1969.

Preuss's cliff swallow

Preuss's cliff swallow (Petrochelidon preussi), also known as Preuss's swallow, is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.


Progne is a genus of birds. The genus name refers to Procne (Πρόκνη), a mythological girl who was turned into a swallow to save her from her husband. She had killed their son to avenge the rape of her sister.

Southern martin

The southern martin (Progne elegans) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.

It is found in Argentina and southern Bolivia ; in winter it migrates to the western Amazon Basin.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical or tropical moist montane forest, subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, and urban areas.


The swallows, martins and saw-wings, or Hirundinidae, are a family of passerine birds found around the world on all continents, including occasionally in Antarctica. Highly adapted to aerial feeding, they have a distinctive appearance. The term Swallow is used colloquially in Europe as a synonym for the barn swallow. There are around 90 species of Hirundinidae, divided into 19 genera, with the greatest diversity found in Africa, which is also thought to be where they evolved as hole-nesters. They also occur on a number of oceanic islands. A number of European and North American species are long-distance migrants; by contrast, the West and South African swallows are non-migratory.

This family comprises two subfamilies: Pseudochelidoninae (the river martins of the genus Pseudochelidon) and Hirundininae (all other swallows, martins and saw-wings). Within the Old World, the name martin tends to be used for the squarer-tailed species, and the name swallow for the more fork-tailed species; however, there is no scientific distinction between these two groups. Within the New World, "martin" is reserved for members of the genus Progne. (These two systems are responsible for the sand martin being called "bank swallow" in the New World.)

Swallows (family: Hirundinidae)


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