When Do Purple Martins Migrate?


Quick Answer

Depending on latitude, mature purple martins arrive in North America between January 15 and May 1. This migration occurs in staggered stages depending on how far north they are traveling and the age of the bird. Yearling martins tend to arrive earlier than older birds.

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Full Answer

Purple martins travel between the two continents making up the Americas over the course of the year. When not raising young, they live in South America, but they travel to North America to breed. Yearling martins tend to arrive in North America before the main group of birds and scout out new breeding sites, while older birds arrive later and tend to reuse sites from the year before.

In broad terms, their migration occurs between the spring and the winter. After arriving in North America between January and May, they stay through the summer and fly back to South America after the young have left the nest in the late summer and fall.

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