Welcome to Purple Martin central
Welcome to Purple Martin central free flight

see what purple martins look like

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differences between males, females, adults and young.

Purple martins are a bird species that migrate from Brazil to North America and Canada. They are colony dwellers, which means they live as a group in one dwelling or house with many nest compartments. While traveling north in the spring they establish new colonies and also return to old housing to breed, raise their young and eventually migrate back to Brazil for the winter season. The cycle repeats yearly and provides people with a chance to enjoy the purple martins social activity. Courtship, nest building, egg laying, raising the young and other social events offer many hours of viewing activity.

Purple Martins do vary in color and can be difficult to identify. Listed below are the differences between males and females and their offspring.

Adult male
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The adult male gives the name "Purple Martin" true meaning. He is very dark, almost black, looking from a distance. In good sunlight you'll see his wings and back are black but his head and body is a very pretty iridescent purple.

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The adult female is easy to spot compared to the male. She is much lighter in color yet retains the black wings and tail. The crown of her head and back are purplish with her breast and neck area grayish (white and gray mix) in color. Notice the dark gray centers of the feathers under her tail feathers. This is a good way to tell an adult female from a younger (first or second year-SY) female.

** photo credits

Adult female
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Second year adult male
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The second year (SY) adult males are similar to the SY females and make it harder to identify them. Overall they look darker and the biggest difference is the feathers on their breast and belly and neck. Instead of looking even in color, white/grayish, they are blotchy and irregular.

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The second year (SY) adult females are similar to the adult females with a big difference not easily spotted. The feathers underneath her tail look all white (light grayish) instead of having the dark gray centers like the adult female. She is also lighter overall in her color.

** photo credits

Second year Adult female
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** Photos credits- Donald & Lillian Stokes, from the "Purple Martin Book- The complete guide to attracting and housing purple martins". It's a great book for your library.

Copyright © 1998 to present Jeffry Blair.

This page packed fresh on: Tuesday 2nd of September 2014 08:56:59 AM

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