What Do Purple Martins Look Like?

What Do Purple Martins Look Like?
The purple martin is the largest member of the swallow family in North America. The purple martin is frequently seen in flight devouring insects and commonly nests in large birdhouses that are provided for it by landowners.


The male purple martin has feathers that are a dark purple and almost look black. They have a forked tail and a small beak.



The female has an upper body that is a darkened gray color with streaks of purple. The underbelly is white and there is a band of gray across the breast and throat.


The typical purple martin is eight inches in length and has a pair of long wings that are pointed. It has a wingspan of up to 16 inches.


The purple martin can be distinguished from similar swallow species because it is the only swallow that has a dark belly.

Expert Insight

The head of the purple martin is large for the size of its body and the bird has a thick chest. It always eats while on the fly, catching insects, and also drinks by skimming over the water and scooping some up.


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