Purple Martin scout reports include information pertaining to the date that adult male or female and subadult male Purple Martins arrived in the observer's area, as well as details about the observer's location and landlord status. Reports are compiled in a database that tracks the migration patterns of Purple Martins.
Purple Martins are part of the swallow family. They have broad chests, curved beaks, long wings, and tails that fork. Males are a dark color that appears blue or purple in the sunlight. Females are a dulled version of that color and can be easily identified by the gray feathers on their heads and chests.
Purple Martins tend to nest together in large groups. Before choosing a nesting site, several birds are sent to investigate potential areas. These birds act as scouts. They mark the first appearance of Purple Martins for the season.
To track migration patterns, bird lovers are asked to submit scout reports. This report collects the observer's name and contact information, as well as the address at which the Purple Martin scouts were spotted. The observer is asked to disclose her landlord status. If the observer is running an active colony, he or she is considered active. If the colony has yet to become active, the landlord is recorded as such. The observer must also disclose if she is simply interested in starting his or her own colony.
Observers then report the month, day, and year that the adult male and female Purple Martin scouts were spotted, along with any notable behavior patterns. In a separate report, the observer notes the first appearance of a subadult male Purple Martin. This bird is identified by patches of purple feathers on its chin, chest, throat, and flanks; binoculars are often necessary to differentiate a subadult male from an adult female. Behavioral observations of the subadult male are recorded, and the report is submitted to the national database.