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Purple Martin Progne subis


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Purple Martin, male
credit: JJ Cadiz/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Hirundinidae, Swallows view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Can look all-dark in poor light, but at close range note glossy bluish purple sheen on body plumage. ADULT FEMALE Has gray-brown upperparts overall, with variable hint of bluish sheen on back and cap; note the pale gray collar and forehead. Underparts are mottled gray-brown, palest on belly and often forming a distinct patch. JUVENILE Similar to female, but with much paler underparts, clean and whitish on belly and undertail. First-summer male retains many juvenile characters.

Dimensions Length: 7-8 1/2" (18-22 cm)

Habitat Locally common summer visitor (present mainly Apr-Aug) to open rural and suburban habitats. Widespread in most of eastern North America and attached to human settlement. Winters in South America.

Observation Tips Easy to see. Install nest boxes to encourage the species.

Range Plains, Florida, Southwest, Northwest, Mid-Atlantic, California, New England, Western Canada, Eastern Canada, Great Lakes, Southeast, Rocky Mountains, Texas

Voice Song is a series of gurgling, churring notes; calls include whistles and a liquid chrrr.

Discussion Well-loved, plump-bodied hirundine; largest of its kind in the region. Readily takes to manmade nest boxes. In flight, broad-based, triangular wings and relatively slow wingbeats create passing resemblance to European Starling. Sexes are dissimilar.