Purple Martin migration is being tracked with geolocators that record sunrise and sunset times. Birds are fitted with these devices before the fall migration and are recaptured after the spring migration so the devices can be removed. With the daily recorded light levels, scientists approximate a global position plotting the Purple Martin’s migration route, time, and non-breeding location.
The research is being conducted in partnership with York University scientist Bridget Stutchbury, her staff, the Purple Martin Conservation Association, and landlords such as founder Paul Mammenga. The result of this research is significant for science and ornithology as well as Purple Martins. The first year this technology was applied to Purple Martins in South Dakota was 2011 with 33 deployed.
A natal dispersal study is being conducted in South Dakota. In cooperation with landlords from Minnesota and Saskatchewan Canada, the study will benefit from any landlord who is willing to look at the Purple Martins with binoculars for leg bands. In 2011 two banded Purple Martin males paired, nested, and fledged young from founder Paul Mammenga’s site near Columba, South Dakota. These males were raised and fledged from Willmar, Minnesota and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada.
We encourage landlords to watch for any banded Purple Martins at your colony sites. Let us know if you see any and need assistance in how to get the information from the leg bands. You may be surprised that you may find one or more with leg bands.