Welcome Back Purple Martins!

Megan McIntosh

Megan McIntosh, Purple Martin Project Coordinator

Spring is finally here, and like clockwork, the Purple Martins are back from their winter vacation in the Amazon of Brazil.

These beautiful birds are North America’s largest swallow. They breed throughout the United States and Canada, often returning to the same site each year! Humans have a very interesting and important role in their conservation because Purple Martins nest almost exclusively in apartment-like bird houses that we provide for them. Unfortunately, Purple Martins and countless of other songbird species are suffering from a severe population crash.

As you may recall, last year Nature Canada joined an international effort to help determine the cause of their decline and recover their populations. We teamed up with Manitoba and York Universities, local nature organizations, community members, and Martin caretakers to create the ‘Purple Martin Project’. Our work involved putting small tracking devices (GPS and geolocators) on nearly 60 adult birds at field locations in the Ottawa and Kingston areas.

These tracking devices carry some very exciting information: Over the past year they have recorded exactly where the Purple Martins have been along their Tagged Purple Martinsmigratory route between Ontario and Brazil! Now that the birds have returned, Nature Canada is making plans to recapture them and remove the tracking devices so that the data can be analyzed by university scientists. We look forward to updating you on the results!

For more information about the project and how you can become involved please contact the Project Coordinator at the information provided below.

Also, if you have not yet watched the debut documentary “Songbird SOS” on The Nature of Things we recommend checking it out! The film provides an excellent background on the plight of songbirds and the hardworking people who are trying save them.


Megan MacIntosh, Purple Martin Project Coordinator
mmacintosh@naturecanada.ca, 613-562-3447 ext.234