Austin’s High-flying Purple Martins

Roosting from July to August, but showing up as early as February, the purple martins of Austin, Texas are a favorite Austin attraction for locals and tourists. Gaining popularity like the bats of Austin found under the South Congress Bridge, purple martins are becoming Austin’s beloved and favorite bird to watch.

Avid bird watchers and lovers arrive on the west side of Highland Mall in Austin and enjoy late summer evening aerial shows of purple martins filling the air as far as the eye can see.

In addition to the austin purple martins and bats of austin, visit the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau website learn more Austin and all it has to offer in food, music, and fun and exciting attractions.

A little purple martin insight

Purple Martins, also known as the North American Swallow, are magnificent because of their color, and their unique call and chaotic song. Purple martins are the largest swallows found in North America.

With their gray heads, slightly hooked bills, tails that are short and forked and tapered, long wings, broad chests and sometimes flanked in white lower belly region, purple martins are easily identified. However, it is mainly a purple martins’ magnificent sheen and shades of purple, blue and black that make them standout among other birds. Adult purple martin males have the darker purple colors with brown and black wings and tail unlike purple martin females.

In addition, purple martin males sing with throaty chirps and creaky rattles that are very boisterous in hopes of attracting a mate to their nest. When trying to woo female purple martins, male purple martins’ croak chaotic songs of love that can last up to 4 seconds in length. Typically, as with most purple martins, purple martins in Austin sing is loudest at dawn, which purple martin males sing just before the sun comes up.

The perfect purple martin habitat

Purple martins are usually found in the mid-west, parts of the northeast, and very small spots of the west coast. In eastern North America, purple martins are known to nest along forest edges and rivers as this was an ideal environment that had dead snags containing woodpecker holes allowing purple martins to call home.

Purple martins also heavily depend on humans to provide housing via natural gourds or man-made gourds as well as crevices in cliffs and buildings. In addition to nesting in special birdhouses for purple martins, purple martins also nest in holes in cacti, nest made of twigs, plant stems, mud and grass.

Austin Purple Martins Info

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Address Location:
6001 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78752

Optimal Time:
Each summer night, from 6PM to 9PM throughout July and August.

Admission & Parking:
FREE – First Come, First Serve Non-Paid / Paid

Things to bring:
Cameras, Binoculars, Video Cameras, Blanks, Picnic Basket, Hats, Bug Spray

Things to wear:
Any and everything bird friendly and bird safe!

Austin purple martins are known to roost and breed behind highland malls and throughout a few local Austin backyards fill with purple martin birdhouses.

When do purple martins migrate and breed?

From late September until mid January, purple martins migrate to South America where is it warm. Purple martins can be spotted throughout the migration path as they breed. If you’re an avid a bird watcher or purple martin fan and would like to tabs on purple martins throughout the year, check the purple martin migration and breeding charts. The purple martin migration and breeding charts will help you identify where and when purple martins can be found and whether or not they are even in your neck of the woods.

What do purple martins eat?

Purple martins are avid flyers of the sky, flying rapidly by flapping and gliding. As purple martins fly and glide through the air, they are acute hunters in search of food. Purple martins feed and roost in large flocks and prey on large aerial insects such as mosquitoes, dragonflies, leaf hoppers, grasshoppers, beetles, and butterflies to name a few. Sometimes you will see a different species of swallows intermingle with purple martins — purple martins will search for their food higher in the air than the other swallows.

The biggest enemies to purple martins…

The Purple Martin is certainly a unique bird all the way around. Purple martins make for great entertainment with the awesome purple coloring and interesting and spectacular aerial show. However, even though purple martins are a common bird, their species has been on the decline since the 1980’s.

Since the purple martin species has been rapidly declining throughout North America, human intervention by way of protective housing has been needed to help increase the purple martin roosts. Purple martins in Austin have definitely taken a liking to their man-made gourds and specialty birdhouses. This protective housing, usually a gourd of some sort, helps protect purple martins from often brutal and aggressive attacks and hostile takeovers by European Starlings, House Sparrows, and Finches. Purple martins and their nestlings are often overrun and killed by these different species of birds.

So to help preserve the magnificent purple martins in Austin, Texas, do your part and help these lovely colored birds keep their spectacular aerial show in the Austin sky by investing in specialty birdhouses for purple martins.