COVID-19 Update  →
September 3rd, 2020

The TREC Foundation has provided $26,153.00 in grants through the years for critical research to ensure the future of Purple Martins.

Pioneered by PMCA collaborators from York University, the use of geolocator data-loggers to collect information from Purple Martins during the non-breeding season has shed much light on the migratory pathways, important stopover areas, and distribution during their winter stay in Brazil.  These tiny devices are deployed on adults at their breeding colonies and then have to be retrieved and downloaded following their arrival the following spring.  The PMCA has been involved with research using geolocators since 2009.

  • The Purple Martin Nest Cam in Erie, PA

The TREC Foundation provided funding for the Purple Martin Nest Cam located in Erie, Pa at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center.

The Nest Cam provides insight to the secret life of the Purple Martins providing the opportunity to watch live:

Egg Laying—1 egg per day

Egg laying commences after copulation occurs.  Females lay one egg per day, usually in the morning, for a total of two to seven pure white eggs

Incubation—Begins with penultimate egg

After the penultimate, or next to last, egg is laid, females begin incubation.  Only females can incubate eggs because only they have a brood patch, a featherless area rich in blood vessels that transfers heat to the eggs.  Males may insulate the eggs for short periods of time while the female leaves the nest.  

Hatching—15-16 days after incubation

Fifteen to sixteen days later, the eggs begin to hatch.  The eggs may not hatch on the same day, but rather it can be spread out over two or even three days.  Once the young have hatched, both parents begin feeding the young.  Pin feathers and downy feathers begin to emerge after 7-10 days.  

Fledging—26-32 days

Fledging occurs 26-32 days after hatching.  The young receive care from their parents for one to two weeks after fledging.  During this time, the young may return to their housing to spend the night.

The PMCA has been banding Purple Martins at our colonies and other sites since 1987.  Use of color-bands in addition to those issued by the U.S. Geological Survey when coupled with scanning and reading is a valuable scientific tool.  Our extensive and long-running banding data set is a valuable one for studying dispersal, survival, longevity, colony and nest site fidelity and any other subjects where knowing individuals is important.

Visit Website

Return to all Research

Donate & Support
Donate and become a part of something greater. Your donation will benefit the TREC's and Presque Isle's education, research, and visitor experience.