Virtual Learning Center

Purple Martin Meadow

The Purple Martin meadow at Meigs Point was established in 2017. It includes native perennials and shrubs. (see pictures below)

  • Purple Martins are beautiful songbirds that arrive in Connecticut from South America around April and nest in the white houses.
  • Martins are listed as a species of special concern by Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
  • Meadow provides ample space for the birds to nest and feed their young. Tall plants offer privacy.
  • Flowers provide insects for food, the birds also like to be near bodies of water or wetlands.

Fun Facts

  • Purple martin parents may feed their chicks up to 60 times a day with high protein insects.
  • Purple martins eat and drink midair (“on the fly”), flying over a pond or other body of fresh water scooping water as they go over
  • Purple martins that live east of the Mississippi are almost 100% reliant on man made housing, either cluster housing or gourds.
  • Purple martin populations are especially vulnerable when there is a rainy cold spell and insects are not available. Whole colonies have been lost.
  • Purple martins travel from North America to South America to migrate, a journey of up to 2500 miles
  • Purple martins can fly up to 40 miles per hour while doing incredible aerial maneuvers.

For more information visit CT DEEP

Some beautiful photos (courtesy of Terry Shaw) and more information below

Purple martins often bring green leaves in their nest prior to laying eggs. The leaves are often aromatic, like bayberry or apple. There is some thought that the green leaves may help with mite control.
Purple martins are very social birds. They like to live in a community, either in housing similar to these, or in gourds. Each martin knows which compartment holds their chicks.
Gourds are the other housing choice purple martins will live in. Purple Martins became accustomed to gourds when Native Americans provided them for the birds. In return, the birds would alert the Native Americans to animal predators.
Purple Martins are dimorphic. Males and females have different coloration.
A newly banded martin, there is a silver Federal band on the right and state and colony bands on the left. Each colony has its own colors.

Skip to content