Where Do Purple Martins Live?

Where Do Purple Martins Live?
Known as the largest of the North American swallow species, the purple martin is adept at catching insects in its mouth as it flies. It is a graceful and acrobatic flier that has pointed wings and a notched tail. Deep purple to almost black in color, the purple martin's range covers a large part of the United States.


The purple martin inhabits nearly the entire eastern portion of the United States except for parts of western New England, eastern New York State, and pockets of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.



Large sections of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah are home to the purple martin in the western half of the country as well as coastal regions of Washington, Oregon, and California, with a small population in the Sierra Nevada Mountains too.


The type of habitat that the purple martin prefers is woodlands that have been cut down, wide open river valleys complete with grasslands, meadows, lake shores, swamp and marsh borders, farmlands, and urban parks; all these places are rich in insect life.

Nest boxes

In the east, the purple martin relies almost totally on building a nest in the nest boxes provided by people on their property. These homes are designed as multiple compartment complexes and attract the birds year after year.

Expert Insight

In the western half of its range, the purple martin will utilize a hollowed-out hole in a tree that at one time was the home of a woodpecker in which to build their nest.

Fun Fact

When the weather turns cold, the purple martin will migrate to South America where it will spend the winter before making the return flight back north in the spring.


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