PMCA Colony update 2019: Subadult martins are here

It’s been over a month since the arrival of the first scouts to our colonies. Over that time, more and more martins have arrived including the subadult martins on May 23rd. During the last week the martins have been busy gathering nesting material and we now have several well built nests at each of our colony sites.

Subadult Male Purple Martin

In the first few weeks after their arrival, the martins spend their days feeding on insects and will return to the housing in the evenings. PMCA biologist spend this time opening cavities for the martins as needed and  ensuring that other bird species, like English house sparrows or tree swallows, are not nest building in the martin housing.

Purple Martins busy gathering nesting material from the water’s edge at our Rotary Pavilion colony site
The beginnings of a Purple Martin nest – dry leaves and small twigs
A Purple Martin nest filled with dry and fresh green leaves
A Purple Martin nest complete with a mud dam.

When Purple Martins are ready to build nests, they will collect dry leaves, twigs and sometimes mud from the ground and bring it into the gourd or compartment. This process can take 3-4 weeks and the final result is a flat, bowl-shaped nest. When they are preparing to lay eggs, they will line the nest with fresh green leaves. If you are unsure if the nest in your Purple Martin house is from a Purple Martin, you can visit our Nest ID page to help identify the type of bird that built the nest.



PMCA Field Biologist