There are large populations of purple martins in the eastern portion of the United States and isolated pockets of the birds in the west; the birds go as far north as central Canada and spend the winter in South America.
During the winter months the martins will inhabit rainforests and cleared tracts of land in countries like Argentina and Brazil, even roosting in large numbers in the villages there.
Martins will head north and south using three major routes. One is over Mexico's eastern portion, another is over Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico, and another is along the East Coast.
In the eastern United States, martins will depend on people to provide them with nest boxes, which are strategically placed near a source of water and by open territory where the martins have space to forage for insects.
In the western part of the country these birds will inhabit the forested areas at elevations between 1,500 and 4,000 feet, next to beaver ponds where insects are plentiful.