By Glen Bartley
ABC’s Bird of the Week – Purple People Pleaser:
The Purple Martin, North America’s largest swallow, is a swift and skilled flyer: The birds eat, drink, and even bathe on the wing. The species is part of a group of birds known as aerial insectivores—birds that feed on airborne insects—which includes swifts, swallows, the Chuck-will’s-widow, and the Olive-sided Flycatcher, to name a few. These birds have all shown steep population declines in the past few decades.
Widespread pesticide use, collisions with man-made structures, and introduced species such as House Sparrows and European Starlings, which out-compete martins for nest sites, are among the factors suspected in the decline of the Purple Martin.