Purple Martin

Purple Martin Progne subis


  • Size; 7 to 8 inches (19 - 20 cm)
  • Wingspan; 15 to 16 inches (39 - 41 cm)
  • Weight; 1.59 to 2.12 ounces (45 - 60 g)

The Purple Martin is North America's largest swallow. This beautiful bird has a large head, thick chest, broad - pointed wings and a forked tail.


  • Flying insects.

Sex Differences:

The male is totally glossy blue-black. The female is bluish black on the back and dingy gray-brown on the chest with a paler dirty gray belly. There is also a gray collar around back of the neck.


The martins will nest in bird houses, a cavity in a tree, a hole in a cactus or a crevice in a cliff or building. The nest is constructed of twigs, mud, grass and plant stems.


Martins spend their winters in South America, in the lowlands east of the Andes.

In the summer martins breed from Alberta to New Brunswick, southward into central Texas and Florida. They can also be found in scattered locations near the Pacific Coast, and in areas of the deserts and mountains of the southwestern United States and Mexico.

A Few Things You Probably Didn't Know:

  • Many backyard birding enthusiasts provide Purple Martin bird houses to support the breeding of this wild bird. Martins, east of the Rocky Mountains, have been fully dependent on nest boxes for breeding for over a century.
  • Native Americans were hanging empty gourds for martins to nest in before Europeans arrived in North America.
  • Purple Martins not only get all of their food while flying, they also get all of their water that way too. They skim the surface of a body of water and scoop up water with their lower bills.
  • Learn about bird feeders, here. 

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