Friday, 3 December 2010

Purple martin

Progne subis

Common name:
purple martin (en); andorinha-azul (pt); hirondelle noire (fr); golondrina purpúrea (es); purpurschwalbe (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Hirundinidae

They breed throughout temperate North America, in south and south-east Canada, in the whole eastern half of the United States and along the Pacific coast from southern Canada down to Mexico. They winter in the Amazon basin, throughout Brazil, north to Colombia and the Guianas, west to Ecuador and Peru and south to Paraguay and Argentina.

This large swallow is 19-20 cm long and has a wingspan of 39-41 cm. They weigh 45-60 g.

During the breeding season the species is mostly found near human settlements where birdhouses are provided. They can also be found in areas with saguaro cactus and in mountain forests around beaver ponds. During the winter they are found in rainforests, forest clearings and agricultural areas and may roost in village plazas.

The purple martin feeds almost exclusively on flying insects. They may occasionally take insects from the ground.

The purple martin nests in birdhouses, holes in trees and cactus, or crevices in cliffs and buildings. the nest is made of twigs, plant stems, mud and grasses. The female lays 3-6 white eggs which are incubated for 15-18 days. The female is the main incubator, with some help from the male. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge after 28-29 days. The parents will continue to feed the young even after fledging.

IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
With an extremely large range and a stable population estimated at 11 million, the purple martin is not threatened at present.

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