Thursday, May 9, 2019

Purple Martin

I was surprised by the Purple Martins we saw on 4 May 2019 at the Glacial Heritage Preserve near Olympia. First, I tend to think of them as an eastern species. In fact, isolated populations also breed in the American Southwest and along the Pacific Coast. Next, eastern martins, which historically bred in old woodpecker holes, now almost exclusively nest in human-provided martin houses. West Coast martins are less common than eastern ones and still use old woodpecker holes. At the preserve, the martins were using artificial nest boxes, but these structures were much more similar to woodpecker holes than the condominiums Eastern birds prefer.

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