Purple Martin

Purple Martin

Progne subis

Least Concern

Known for their striking iridescent purple-blue plumage and gurgling songs, the Purple Martin is a charming dweller of North and South America's open areas and suburban spaces. As the largest North American swallow, this glossy bird soars through the skies, its swift flight and aerial feeding acrobatics making it a captivating spectacle amidst the diverse bird life of the Americas.

Appearance and Identification

Primary Color


Primary Color (female)


Primary Color (juvenile)


Secondary Colors

Black, White

Secondary Colors (female)

Grey, White

Secondary Colors (juvenile)

White, Black

Secondary Colors (seasonal)

Wing Color

Dark Purple

Wing Color (female)


Wing Color (juvenile)


Beak Type


Beak Color


Beak Color (female)


Beak Color (juvenile)


Leg Color


Leg Color (female)


Leg Color (juvenile)


Distinctive Markings

Glossy dark purple body, forked tail

Distinctive Markings (female)

Grey-brown upperparts, white underparts

Distinctive Markings (juvenile)

Similar to female

Tail Description

Forked and slightly rounded

Tail Description (female)


Tail Description (juvenile)

Short, notched

Size Metrics

19cm to 20cm


39cm to 41cm


45g to 60g



Click on an image below to see the full-size version

Vocalization and Sounds

Primary Calls

Gurgling song and harsh alarm calls

Call Description

A series of rich, gurgling, liquid notes

Alarm Calls

Sharp, harsh chirps

Behavior and Social Structure

Daily Activities

Active during the day, foraging in the morning and evening

Social Habits

Highly sociable, form large colonies during breeding season

Territorial Behavior

Defends nesting site, often aggressive towards intruders

Migratory Patterns

Migrates to South America in winter

Interaction with Other Species

Generally peaceful, but can be aggressive during breeding season


Primary Diet

Insects, Spiders

Feeding Habits

Catches prey in flight

Feeding Times

Throughout the day

Prey Capture Method

Aerial foraging

Diet Variations

Diet varies with season and location

Special Dietary Needs (if any)

None known


Nesting Location

Artificial housing or natural cavities

Nest Construction

Cup-shaped nest made of twigs and grass

Breeding Season

Spring to early summer

Number of clutches (per breeding season)

One to two

Egg Appearance

White, unmarked

Egg Size

Approximately 2.5cm x 1.8cm

Clutch Characteristics

3-6 eggs

Incubation Period

Around 15 days

Fledgling Period

Approximately 28-29 days

Parental Care

Both parents incubate eggs and feed chicks

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

North and South America

Habitat Description

Open areas near water, often near human habitation

Elevation Range

Sea level to 1,500m

Migration Patterns

Migrates to South America in winter


Grassland, Urban, Suburban

Climate zones

Temperate, Tropical

Distribution Map

Please note, this range and distribution map is a high-level overview, and doesn't break down into specific regions and areas of the countries.

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