Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Banding Purple Martins

Early one recent morning a small group of Museum staff, volunteers, interns, and Wake Audubon members gathered together at the North Carolina Sate University Faculty Club. This motley group had arrived with a singular objective: to band Purple Martin nestlings. Purple Martins (Progne subis), a colonial species of swallow, have taken up summer residence in special nest boxes provided for them at the NCSU Faculty Club, the NC Art Museum, and right here at Prairie Ridge. Once the group finished with the nestlings at the NCSU Faculty Club they moved on to band the nestlings at Prairie Ridge.

The Purple Martin towers at NCSU Faculty Club

Specially trained scientists took careful measurements of each Purple Martin Nestling Scientists banding purple martinsbefore placing an aluminum identification band around one of its legs. These bands have unique numbers imprinted on them and allow scientists who may capture these birds in the future to track them.

In an effort to more easily track where the migratory offspring return to, specially colored red leg bands are added to the young bird's standard aluminum identification leg band. These colored bands allow observers to identify them from a distance using binoculars or a spotting scope. The next time you visit Prairie Ridge this summer be sure to look for the Purple Martins foraging and look at their legs for these red bands.

Find out more about the natural happenings at Prairie Ridge at our What Time Is It In Nature Archive.