Purple Martin

Native Americans once attracted these voracious insect eaters by hanging gourd houses near their villages. Purple Martins nest in colonies of six to eight pairs—well-established ones can grow into the hundreds.


Lori Whalen
Purple Martin
George Harrison
Purple Martin colony


Purple MartinLori Whalen
Lori Whalen Purple Martin

Scientific Name: Progne subis.
Family: Swallow.
Length: 8 inches.
Wingspan: 18 inches.
Distinctive Markings: Male sports shiny blue-black feathers over its entire body; female has a dark head and tail with gray or white feathers on its throat and belly.
Nest: Pair constructs a nest of plant materials before female lays four to five white eggs.
Voice: A low-pitched warble.
Habitat: Open areas with water nearby.
Diet: Insects.
Backyard Favorites: A multi-compartment house or several gourds high in the air, located in an open area; native plants to attract bugs.

Bird Song & Range Map

Listen to the Purple Martin’s song and learn where to spot them!

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Purple Martin Bird SpeciesRange maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.

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Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find her reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.