Purple Martin

photo by Phil Swanson

Progne subis
L 8″ (20 cm).

Song or calls:
Rich, low “chew” notes. Song is a series of rich gurgling notes.

Description: Male is dark, glossy purplish-blue overall, with wings and forked tail duller black. Female and juvenile are glossy purple above and gray below. Typical swallow flight of short glides alternating with rapid flapping.

purple martin
Habitat: Found in urban, suburban, and rural habitats, usually near water, and always where suitable nesting cavities are available.

Where in Nebraska: Common spring and fall migrant and summer resident across most of Nebraska. Presently Ogallala, Lewellen, and Crescent Lake represent the approximate western limits.

Field Notes: In the eastern and midwestern U.S., multiple-unit Martin houses are often used as nesting sites. In the west, pairs more commonly nest in old woodpecker holes, usually in dead trees.

Fun Facts: Purple Martins gather in large flocks prior to migration. In fact, over 30,000 have been estimated to roost in one area of downtown Omaha, NE.

female Purple Martin - photo by Phil Swanson Purple Martin - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)