Purple Martins are the only bird in eastern North America that depend entirely upon humans for nesting. Ever since Native Americans began attracting the birds to gourd houses, Martins have been drawn to human-made structures. However, Martin populations have declined in the last 30 years, in part due to natural causes and in part to the disappearing “art” of attracting and hosting colonies.
Partners in Flight cites a 6% percent annual reduction in Martins across the U.S (approximately 30,000 birds in WI as of 2004). In Wisconsin, populations are spotty and seriously affected by harsh, cold springs, insecticide use, habitat change, and a significant reduction in nesting structures. That’s why we at Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society decided to identify the colonies that are present in our 17 county area. Through active plotting and record-keeping, we hope to keep careful tabs on how Martins in our region are doing, and perhaps serve as a resource for those who might want to attract these birds to their own property.
Embedded here is the cataloged record of all Martin Colonies found (beginning in 2014), and a copy of the reporting form for anyone who would like to add a colony to our records.