FTLComm - Tisdale - June 10, 2000

These birds are unmistakable in flight as they are clearly swallows but the male Purple Martin in the only swallow with a black belly and these are large birds compared to all other swallows which would be about half their size. The tree swallow might fool you at a distance for a female Martin but they are much smaller.

The flight characteristic is that of an aerial vacuum cleaners, gliding in circles with a quick flap then glides some more often spreading its tail for control. Like other swallows the Purple Martin
consumes a massive volume of insects each day. With the cool weather we have been having the mosquito population is not flourishing and things have been a big tight for the Purple Martin colonies.

The picture at the top of the page is that of male sitting on his door step while a pair of females are seen in the second picture observing the world from their balcony. (also on the right)

The Purple Martin spends its winters in South America and can be found in most of western North America although only accidental in Alaska. They like open areas so you will find them in logged out forest areas, in towns, farm country and in the desert. When it comes to building a nest they demand specific kinds of dwellings, a tree hollow, a building, or these specifically designed bird houses which are their favourite.

They can be quite vocal with a throaty rich "tchew-wew" or "pew pew" and sing in a gurgling running to a succession of low rich gutturals.

A really large number of these birds live and devour insects in Tisdale. In almost all parts of town you can see the fine condominium and apartment style bird house that have been put up for them and around each dwelling you can see them wheeling through the air.