Mission Statement: The Purple Martin Preservation Alliance (PMPA) is an all-volunteer conservation organization dedicated to the recovery and preservation of Purple Martins through hands-on conservation projects, public education, and scientific research.  We are headquartered in the Alle-Kiski Valley of Southwestern Pennsylvania.  Please help us bring back the Purple Martin!  --The Staff of the Purple Martin Preservation Alliance (PMPA) Scientific Advisors  Scroll down past "LATEST ARTICLES"  for basic information about Purple Martins  TO E-MAIL THE  PMPA: kgkostka@hotmail.com
Nesting Pairs in Southwestern Pennsylvania 2014
- added 11/13/14
Former MLB Pitcher Jack Kucek visits PMPA -
added 4/6/2014
Sacramento Purple Martin Nesting Population Threatened by Kestrels - added 2/7/14
Mirror, Mirror - Updated for 2012 - added 11/27/12
Purple Martins Breed in Birdville, PA after 40 Year Absence - added 01/12/12 updated 12/17/13
A History of Purple Martin Colonies in Natrona Heights, PA and Surrounding Areas  - added 11/10/11 updated 12/17/13
Vigilance is the Key in a "One-Pair Colony"; 23 Ways a Single Nesting Pair Can Fail - added 10/31/11
Nesting Pairs in Southwestern Pennsylvania 2011
- added 10/27/11
Feeding Blackie; Supplemental Feeding at a Non-breeding Purple Martin Site - added 01/14/11
Forced Dispersal Instrumental in Establishing 3-5 New Colonies - added 12/01/10
Nesting Pairs in Southwestern Pennsylvania 2010
- added 10/15/10
An Editorial: Weather can be a Predator!
- added 11/29/09
Nesting Pairs in Southwestern Pennsylvania 2013 - added 12/13/13
Nesting Pairs in Southwestern Pennsylvania 2012
- added 10/20/12
Guest Writer: Duke Snyder - Martin Panhandlers in Western PA
- added 02/12/10
Black Rat Snake Predation at a Purple Martin Colony near Pittsburgh, PA - added 12/15/09
A Lesson Re-Learned: Missed Opportunity at Crooked Creek Lake - added 12/12/09
Effects of Moving Housing: A Five Year Look at the Lock 4 Colony
- added 12/05/09
Purple Martins Attracted to a Typical Suburban Backyard in Pennsylvania - added 11/05/09
2008 Purple Martin Season Summary for Western Pennsylvania - added 9/6/08
The Successful Transplant of a Pair of Breeding Purple Martins in 2007 - added 8/16/07
A Proposal to Establish Purple Martin Colonies by Transplanting Nesting Pairs -added 8/15/07, updated 02/25/08
Martins Removed to the Zoo
- added 08/06/07,  updated 08/23/07
Martins Flourish in the Face of Adversity
- added 07/31/07
The Martin Killing Weather of April, 2007
- added 04/25/07
Two Breeding Pairs of Purple Martins Nest in the Same Cavity in 2006 - added 02/28/07
Emergency and Supplemental Feeding of Purple Martins in Spring 2006 - added 12/31/06
Homing of Purple Martins - added 11/15/06
Purple Martin Colony Established in Natrona, PA, in 2006 - added 10/26/06
The New Excluder Gourd - added 9/14/06
The Smicksburg Triangle - added 9/7/06
Emergency Cold Weather Feeding in the Spring of 2005 - added 3/14/06
Seven Advantages of the T-14 Wooden Purple Martin House - added 2/07/06
Behavior of Purple Martins Captured in Pre-nesting Compartments - added 1/29/06
A 53 Year-old Article: Attempting to Establish Martins by Hacking (Hand-raising) (requires Adobe Acrobat) - added 1/23/06
Cross-species Fostering: An Attempt to Establish a Purple Martin colony by using Tree Swallows - added 12/23/05

New Purple Martin Staging Area Discovered in Pennsylvania: The Ralph Bell Roost - added 12/02/05
Purple Martins Breed in Natrona, PA, in 2005, as a result of Forced Dispersal Project - added 11/17/05
Forced Dispersal as a Method of Establishing New Purple Martin Colonies - added 10/12/05

Owl Guards:  Preferences and Breeding Success at an Established Colony - added 9/21/05
Preference & Breeding Success in 6" x 6" Cavities with 2" Round Holes vs. 6" x 12" Cavities with Excluders - added 4/7/05
First Arrivals 2005 at Saxon Golf Course Colony Include a Banded ASY-M
- added 4/05/05
Troyer Horizontal Gourd Advisory - added 4/03/05
Standards for Purple Martin Housing
- added 3/23/05
Operation Martin-Start II: New Beginnings - added 3/21/05
The Mysterious Appearance of 30 Purple Martins at an Unused Martin House - added 3/05/05
Birthplace of Purple Martins Breeding at Saxon Golf Course Colony in 2004 - added 2/18/05
Banded Birds seen at Gastown Racetrack Colony, Armstrong Co., PA - added 2/14/05
Operation Martin-Start: Evaluating Purple Martin Breeding Attempts at New Sites
- added 2/02/05
Comparing Breeding Success: Snyder Excluders vs. Conley Excluders - added 1/25/05
Martin Management Models: East and West - added 01/14/05
Indiana Purple Martin Spotted in Pennsylvania in 2004 - added 01/10/05
Why Would Martins choose to Nest Alone? - added 01/07/05
Comic relief: A Look at Purple Martins in the Year 2204 - added 12/30/04
Sevin for Parasite Control - added 12/24/04
Snyder Excluders vs. Conley Excluders; A  Preference Test - added 12/15/04, updated 1/20/05
Designing a Scientific Experiment  - added 12/14/04
"[Band#] 65290" - From A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold - added 12/13/04
Purple Martin Hacking Project Conducted by Pennsylvania Game Commission in 1985 & 1986  - added 12/02/04
The Search for the 56 Purple Martins Banded as nestlings at The Saxon Golf Course Colony in 2002 - added 11/01/04
 IDENTIFICATION The Purple Martin (Progne subis) is a large blue-black swallow (very dark glossy blue body with black wings) that is best known for its habit of nesting colonially in large, multi-compartmented houses or gourds. Martins are 7-8 inches long with a wingspan of about 12 inches, and weigh close to 50 grams. They are significantly larger than any of their better-known cousins, the Barn, Tree, and Cliff Swallows, but this size difference is not apparent unless perched next to one of these smaller species.  Many other birds are commonly mistaken for Purple Martins. Some of these species include European Starlings, Common Grackles, Tree Swallows, Barn Swallows, and Brown-headed Cowbirds, (click on name to view photo). Keep in mind that Purple Martins rarely perch in trees or land on the ground during the breeding season. Most of the time they are perched on martin housing or telephone wires. Only adult males are all purple. MORE ON MARTIN IDENTIFICATION
ATTRACTING PURPLE MARTINS  Once common throughout western Pennsylvania, martins have become scarce and difficult to attract. Several factors are to blame. First, in June of 1972, Tropical Storm Agnes stalled over Pennsylvania and dumped 7 inches of rain over the course of six days, killing almost every Purple martin adult and nestling in western PA. Since constant, heavy rain prevents flying insects from taking flight, and since Purple Martins are "obligate aerial insectivores" - which is a fancy way of saying that they eat only flying insects - all of the Purple Martins starved to death during the continuous rains associated with this 100 year weather event. 5 KEY PRINCIPLES OF MARTIN ATTRACTION
MANAGEMENT BASICS If you want to keep from losing the martins you've attracted and to create a thriving colony site,  you must adhere to 5 basic management rules: 1) Prevent European Starlings and House Sparrows from nesting in your martin housing.  2) Prevent martin predators (snakes, raccoons, and owls) from gaining access to your martin housing. 3) Control nest parasites. 4) Train your martins to eat crickets and mealworms.   5) Keep trees and shrubs from encroaching on your martin housing. THE 6 KEY MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLES
COLONY SITES IN PENNSYLVANIA  Though Purple Martins can still be considered scarce in Southwestern PA, things are looking up!  For several years, the PMPA has been managing many of the established colony sites in the  area.  By improving the martin housing and controlling European Starlings and House Sparrows, the martins have bred much more successfully, which means that these sites are now acting as a source of martins to start new colony sites.  The PMPA is also managing a variety of unestablished sites where it is attempting to attract martins.  To view individual locations of colony sites in southwestern Pennsylvania, click SITES.
BANDING PURPLE MARTINS  Since 2001, the PMPA has been banding hundreds of martins in order to study such things as dispersal trends, housing preference, and longevity.  Ken Kostka is a federally licensed bird bander.   For more about Banding, click HERE.
EXCLUDER ENTRANCE HOLES A HIT! The colony site at Saxon Golf Course grew from 13 breeding pairs in 2002 to 23 breeding pairs in 2003.  During both years, 71% of the cavities were 11" deep with Snyder Excluders and 29% were 6" deep with 2" round entrance holes.  I am very pleased with excluders and plan to go to all Excluders in 2004. To view breeding success information at this site, click on the Nest Check Sheet 2002: House#1  orNest Check Sheets Year 2003: House#1  House#2  Check out nesting data summaries comparing the round vs. excluder entrance holes. To read an article about the invention of the Excluders, click HERE. To see a video of a Purple Martin entering and exiting an excluder entrance hole, click HERE.
EMERGENCY FEEDING TECHNIQUE: The photograph at left depicts Purple Martins eating mealworms and crickets off of a feeding platform. Thousands of martins died of weather-induced starvation in June of 1972 in Western Pennsylvania when Hurricane Agnes caused 1 week of constant rain, depriving the air of flying insects, the Purple Martin's only source of natural food. Ken Kostka played a key role in developing an emergency feeding technique that allowed martin "landlords" to save their martins from starvation by offering them supplemental food!  This technique has been a major boon to martin conservation efforts, and has saved thousands of Purple Martins since it was developed.  For more information, and to view a video clip of this technique in action, go to http://purple-martin.org/Archives/cricketfeeding.htm
$ Please Consider Making a Donation $ to the Purple Martin Preservation Alliance. All donations are used to aid Purple Martin recovery efforts in Southwestern Pennsylvania, The PMPA directly manages many active colony sites in a four county area of southwestern PA. We have erected managed housing at many other sites in an attempt to attract martins. In addition, we advise and educate landlords at a number of established colony sites in the area. Send a check or money order to: Purple Martin Preservation Alliance (or "PMPA") and mail to PMPA, c/o Jeff Hunt, 176 Paradise Dr., Export, PA 15632. Thanks!

Archives - Articles about Martins and Martin Management
Western Purple Martins

Many thanks to Glenn Davis for photographs used throughout this site.

BIRDS' PARADISE (T-14's): 1-800-872-0103
EXCLUDER GOURDS: http://www.excludergourd.com  
ENTRANCES BY SANDY: http://www.entrancesbysandy.com
PURPLE MARTIN CONSERVANCY: http://www.purplemartin.biz/
FRIENDS OF HARRISON HILLS COUNTY PARK: http://friendsofharrisonhills.org

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