Eastern Purple Martin

The Eastern purple martin is the largest North American swallow, and is famous for its 5000+ mile migrations, its amazing acrobatic displays, and its huge pre-migratory flocks of hundreds of thousands birds. Its situation is precarious though: it has become entirely dependent on humans for nesting shelter, and in recent years has faced serious decline.


Narrator: Andy BalinskyTitle: Hands-on HelpDuration: 00:01:07Date: December 8, 2022Andy Balinsky, a network security engineer, is a long-time volunteer purple martin steward who cares for a large Austin-area colony at Hornsby Bend. He has taught many fellow conservationists about ways to protect and promote martins. He has noticed that looking after martins allows a kind of satisfying, hands-on conservation impact that is often lost in more indirect kinds of environmental work.Narrator: Andy BalinskyTitle: CountingDuration: 00:06:12Date: December 8, 2022Andy Balinsky has had a long career as a computer scientist and network security engineer. He has also volunteered for managing purple martin colonies. Here he describes the puzzle of trying to count the number of martins that congregate by the hundreds of thousands in pre-migratory roosts in Austin.Narrator: Louise ChambersTitle: Wow!Duration: 00:02:12Date: August 9, 2022Louise Chambers, a long-time purple martin landlord and student, often helps teach at summer camps at the South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. There, she has the chance to expose children to purple martins, showing them young nestlings, pointing out their eyes, ears, feathers, and even fecal sacs, to the kids' great delight.Narrator: Louise ChambersTitle: Egg WormsDuration: 00:04:49Date: August 9, 2022Louise Chambers worked for the Purple Martin Conservation Association for over a quarter century, and through her work there, helped learn and share many strategies for helping martins, including several unusual techniques for feeding martins during cold weather, when their usual diet of flying insects was missing.Narrator: Matt FendleyTitle: Cooper's HawksDuration: 00:04:22Date: July 28, 2022Matt Fendley, a long-time purple martin student and landlord, laments the rapid expansion of the Cooper's hawk's nesting range, population, and predation on martins. He asks the hard question of what managers can possibly do to ensure that the hawk and martin might somehow coexist.Narrator: Matt FendleyTitle: Keep It GoingDuration: 00:03:00Date: July 28, 2022For decades, Matt Fendley has studied and cared for Eastern purple martins. He sees the decline in housing for the birds as a major factor in the fall of martin populations, so he gives presentations to recruit new landlords to build and maintain nest structures.Narrator: Laura JosephTitle: Egg ShellsDuration: 00:02:07Date: December 8, 2022Laura Joseph, the Purple Martin Lady of Virginia Avenue, has hosted a big, 15-pole martin colony since the 1990s. Exotic English house sparrows compete with the native martins, so volunteers work hard to remove any sparrow eggs found in the martin nestboxes. These eggs offer a great nutrition source for the martins, as well as an educational opportunity for the kids who help at the colony site.Narrator: Jim RayTitle: CavitiesDuration: 00:04:07Date: September 14, 2022Jim Ray, a wildlife biologist who has worked for Texas Parks and Wildlife, for habitat management at the Pantex weapons plant, and with the Purple Martin Conservation Association, recounts the ancient history of people both assisting and interfering with martin nesting.