Purple Martins of Plum Island – 2014 Breeding Season

Purple Martins of Plum Island – 2014 Breeding Season

Purple Martin by Nathan Dubrow

It was a delightful, New England summer for the Purple Martins of Plum Island!  The martins had plenty of prey 

items and good weather.  Thank you all for your faithful reporting!

Here is the tally:

Lot #1 Site:

Purple Martins nested at this site this season due to the martin decoys we placed to lure them back to
the gourds.  Well, those decoys worked!  Purple Martin decoys help attract Purple Martins to the housing when
there’s been no nesting activity, preventing the site from coming across as an abandoned site.  Martins
seek out their own kind. They find protection and safety in numbers. If your site comes across like a
ghost town, passing birds may just keep going.  To a martin, it’s all about safety, and that safety comes
in numbers. Using these proven tools such as Purple Martin decoys caused passing birds to give pause
and check out our site. They thought there was a Marty Party going on, and they dropped in. 

Gourds: 18

Purple Martin Nests:  4

Eggs: 7
Viable eggs:  5

Non-viable eggs: 2

Young:  5

Fledged Young: 5

House Sparrow Nests Removed: 8

At the North End site, we hosted a martin from Connecticut. It was sporting a Federal band as well as a
blue band supplied by the CT Department of Energy & Environment Protection.  This bird was banded in
2013 near Clinton, CT by Min T. Huang.  This female laid one non-viable egg in gourd #17.

North End Site:

Gourds: 24

Purple Martin Nests:  19

Eggs: 32
Viable eggs:  28

Non-viable eggs: 4

Young:  28

Fledged Young: 28

House Sparrow Nests Removed: 19

This season, the Purple Martin colony on private property on “The Basin” did well.  The landlord there passed
away during the winter but “his” martins returned faithfully to the site.  There were Purple Martins nesting in
Newbury again this year.  Martins nested in Seabrook, NH in the new gourds, and a team of volunteers
monitored that colony.  Some of those volunteers attended a few training sessions on Plum Island. We
assume that these new, breeders are offspring from the Plum Island colony.


Adopt one or more Purple Martin gourds for the 2015 breeding season. These birds at Plum Island have been studied and monitored for years. Adoption fees are $40/gourd. Purple Martin gourd adoptions would make great gifts for members of your family or friends for the upcoming
holiday season.With each adoption of a Purple Martin gourd for the 2015 breeding season, you will receive:

  • A photo of the gourd,
  • As the season progresses, updates on breeding biology at the colony ~ nest building, egg laying, hatching and fledgling activities via email,
  • A final tally of the colony’s reproductive success,
  • An invitation to renew your adoption the following year.

Your adoption allows you to:

  • Partake in a scheduled round of nest checks with a Purple Martin landlord,
  • Know that you are helping provide housing for this human-dependent songbird.

Please make your check out to Friends of Parker River and mail your adoption fee to Sue McGrath, 44 Moulton St., Newburyport, MA, 01950. The Friends of Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the conservation of the natural resources of the Refuge and fostering public understanding and appreciation of the Refuge.

Best regards,