Houston Audubon Beak of the Week:
Purple Martin (Progne subis)
Family: (Hirundinidae) Swallows and Martins
The Purple Martin is the largest North American swallow. Adult males are purplish-black and darker on the wings and tail. Females and immatures have dusky throats, light bellies, and dull purplish-black upperparts.
Purple Martins fly rapidly with a mix of flapping and gliding. They are aerial insectivores feeding only on flying insects, which they catch in flight. Their diet is diverse, including dragonflies, damselflies, flies, midges, bees, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers and cicadas.
Peak numbers for Purple Martins occur in July and August when Purple Martins form large flocks and roost together in great numbers in preparation to migration. Some roosts may have thousands of birds. When the birds arrive to roost in the evening, it can be an amazing spectacle with the sky literally black with martins! …
(read more: Houston Audubon)
Picture of young male by Greg Lavaty