The Purple Martin, largest of the
swallow family, has been a favorite of many generations of North American's.
Its migratory range is extensive, and covers all of the United States from
coast to coast. Some birds in this group are found as far north as the
Vancouver Islands and southern Saskatchewan. Reaching the United States
around January 15th in southern Florida, they continue their migration
to the north reaching Canada by May lst. Main scout birds arrive first
around march 15th in the Chesapeake Bay region looking for a nesting place
for the others that will reach the area in mid April. Purple Martins will
return to the place where they were born to nest and raise their offspring.
They like large open areas to hunt for insects, such as mosquitoes, and
We erected our first bird houses
in 1966 near our home on Jonathan's Addition. They are made of wood and
placed on medal poles 15 feet above the ground. Each year we clean the
houses, removing any remaining nesting materials. This is necessary to
keep disease down in the colony. Painting is required every other year
to keep the house water resistant, thus preventing rotting. Many commercial
models are now available in the U.S. mainly constructed from aluminum.
The male bird to the left is
a blue color in the late afternoon light.
The colors will change due to light conditions, ranging from very dark
blue to a vivid purple. It is the male that give the colony their name,
Picture was taken August 2007 with a Canon
S2 IS Camera a great
rig for capturing the subjects in question.
To the right is a Purple Martin nesting box at our house
10 compartments. I designed this box in 1967 and started a colony
the first year. The house has been replaced many times of course,
because it is constructed of pine wood and starts to fail in about 5
years. The birds really like this house design and prefer it about 12
feet above our vegetable garden. I have tried several colors, but
red is may favorite color and I believe the Martins like it too.
Martins have been returning to our nest boxes for 47 years
now. There is no greater sound than the cherp of the scout bird in late
March. In 2002 the first bird showed up on March 30th and was first seen atop our 40
foot TV antenna. Usually the birds will number around 10 by the 10th of
April. The colony will number around 50 by the end of April.
The Goldsborough Purple Martin Colony is
registered with the Purple Martin Conservation Association
Registry # 064123
April 1 2014 in late evening our martin
houses were ready but not erected yet. I saw five martins circling over our home
and decided that I better get some birdhouses up ASAP. My wife and I put the
newly painted house on the pole and cranked it into the air around 7:30 PM. When
the nest reached the vertical position 3 martins landed on the house within 10
minutes and entered some of the holes and settled in for the night. That
is amazing and has happened many times in the pass years. I put up the nest when
I see the birds.