The first purple martins of the year have been spotted in New Hampshire.
The birds were seen earlier this month in the town of Rindge by a Purple Martin enthusiast – one of many people throughout the eastern and central United States who track and report on the birds’ annual migration, according to the Purple Martin Conservation Association.
“The purple martins arrival in New Hampshire show the birds are making steady progress northward since they first made landfall in Florida two days before Christmas,” Joe Siegrist, president of the Purple Martin Conservation Association, said in a news release.
North America’s largest species of swallow, purple martins winter in the rainforests of Brazil before making up to a 7000-mile migration north into the eastern United States and Canada.
Siegrist said the annual migration is a testament to the martins’ resilience as well as the unwavering dedication of thousands of “martin landlords” who maintain multi-compartment nest “condos” that are essential for the birds’ survival.
He said the species, which eats billions of flying insects annually, has experienced a loss of one-third of its population over the last 50 years.
“The decline seems to be the combination of a few factors: nesting habitat loss, competing invasive species, decreasing prey availability, and climate change,” Siegrist said.
“Over the majority of the purple martins’ range, they are unable to nest naturally any longer. Human-provided nest boxes are the only thing keeping the species alive east of the Rocky Mountains.”
Those who provide the boxes “are rewarded with a family-like bond with the birds who return to the same colony year after year like clockwork,” he said.
To follow along with the purple martins’ migration and learn more about conserving the species, visit www.purplemartin.org.
Anyone interested in learning about how to attract and care for purple martins can receive a free booklet by contacting the Purple Martin Conservation Association at 814-833-7656 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.