Purple Martin Cam
June 6, 2018
The Purple Martins are back and nesting once again in the colony at the Milford Point Coastal Center is thriving once again. Last year the colony produced at least 114 baby martins.
We invite you to enjoy our Purple Martin cam. You’ll notice that the eggs – there are three – are in the bottom of the screen, in the center (they’ll be covered and not visible when the birds are incubating). The real activity starts when the eggs hatch!
Last year the colony produced at least 114 baby martins, and in July 2017, we helped the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection band 107 of them. Our summer videographer, Christina O’Neill, produced this 3-minute video of the process.
As you’ll see at the end, these birds were considered threatened in Connecticut, but that status has recently changed.
Purple Martins feed on aerial insects, which are often caught in the rising thermal air currents that can carry them miles above the ground. The martins follow their food, and may feed so high that they can’t be seen against the blue sky. Most activity at the site tends to take place early or late in the day.
Martins are the one species nesting in Connecticut that we can truly say needs help from humans. A threatened species here, they nest only in human-made structures, either boxes or gourds.
Our colony is at the south edge of the Wheeler salt marsh (we encourage you to see it in person, from the observation deck near the Coastal Center’s parking lot). Purple Martins need open areas rich in aerial insect life. In Connecticut, that usually means coastal salt marshes, but there are a few inland colonies, as well, usually on farmland near a large body of water.
Purple Martins usually arrive in Connecticut toward the end of the first week in April. They will remain through August with a few lingering into the third week in September. Nesting colonies are often quite active early and late in the day.