SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Purple martins are an attractive bird that are popular with people because of their acrobatic flight patterns and their voracious appetites for flying insects.
People can learn more about these interesting birds and how to get a purple martin colony established near their homes at the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) program “Purple Martins” on Saturday, March 2 at MDC’s Springfield Conservation Nature Center. This free program is from 1-2:30 p.m. and is for ages 10 and up. People can register for this program at mdc.mo.gov/SouthwestEvents
The link between purple martins and humans dates to pre-settlement times when Native Americans hung hollowed-out gourds in their villages for martins to nest in. The birds provided insect-control benefits and very likely helped Native Americans by chasing other birds away from their corn plants and from hides and meat that were hung to dry.
This connection between purple martins and people has developed to the point that, today, most purple martins in North America use human-provided structures to nest in.
Martins are extremely agile and fast fliers; characteristics that help them catch a variety of flying insects. Purple martins only eat insects caught in mid-flight. Generally, martins inhabit open areas that have a water source nearby. The water provides an abundant food source of flying insects.
For information on this event or other Springfield Conservation Nature Center programs, call 417-888-4237. The Springfield Conservation Nature Center is located at 4601 S. Nature Center Way.
For more information about purple martins and other birds found in Missouri, visit mdc.mo.gov.