Sunday, June 3, 2012

Purple Martin


Erika and I photographed this male Purple Martin last week, during an extremely hot day, with temperatures above 90 degrees F.  The martin perched near a nesting box adjacent to the Lake Byllesby County Park in nearby Dakota County. The bird preened, sang, and occasionally either yawned or panted.

Martins are the largest North American swallow and few anywhere in the world are larger. Because of about a half dozen quite similar species in South America, ornithologists are uncertain of Purple Martins' migratory routes and winter range. Apparently the main wintering grounds are in Brazil and eastern Bolivia. Birds marked with ultraviolet paint in Sao Paulo, Brazil, nested in "Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Kansas, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Ontario" (Brown 1997). Despite my banding several hundred nestling martins in eastern South Dakota, I have never had a recovery.

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