Purple Martin – # 209

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia

  • Phylum: Chordata

  • Class: Aves

  • Order: Passeriformes

  • Family: Hirundinidae

  • Genus: Progne

  • Species: P. subis

Binomial name

Progne subis

(Linnaeus, 1758)

Purple Martins are a kind of swallow, of the genus Progne. Like other members of this genus, they are larger than most of the other swallows. The average length from bill to tail is 20 cm (7.9 in). Adults have a slightly forked tail. Adult males are entirely black with glossy steel blue sheen, the only swallow in North America with such coloration. Adult females are dark on top with some steel blue sheen, and lighter underparts. Subadult females look similar to adult females minus the steel blue sheen and browner on the back. Subadult males look very much like females, but solid black feathers emerge on their chest in a blotchy, random pattern as they molt to their adult plumage.

Purple martins are aerial insectivores, meaning that they catch insects from the air. The birds are agile hunters and eat a variety of winged insects. Rarely, they will come to the ground to eat insects. They usually fly relatively high, so, contrary to popular opinion, mosquitoes do not form a large part of their diet. Recent research, however, does indicate that the Purple Martin feeds on invasive fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) and that they may make up a significant portion of their diet.

The Purple Martin is added to my list as # 209 


Photo Gallery


© HJ Ruiz – Avian101

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10 thoughts on “Purple Martin – # 209

    • I had seen these birds several times before but didn’t have a chance to photograph them because they were always in flight…then, somebody had the right idea to erect these houses for them. I had a feast with them so handy! Thank you my friend! 🙂

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