Citizen-Science involves the contribution of data or observations from the public to an organization that has a scientific interest in collecting the particular data for study.

The general public is being asked to help the purple martin in a number of ways, one of which is helping out with research conducted by the Purple Martin Association. Report directly to the PMCA regarding any of the following research studies.

The Scout Arrival Study is just one of the research studies explained below. The martin below is one of the early birds photographed at one of the colonies in Essex County in 2015. The adult male is checking out one of the B-10’s at this colony. Arrival dates will vary from location to location and by year.

Single scout 2015
Scout arrival 2015   (Photo courtesy of John Balga)

Single male or single female purple  martins which arrive at your site early in the season are usually the martins that have been coming to your colony for a few years now and are anxious enough to be there to claim the best nest sites for the season before other martins arrive. Sometimes martins passing through your area will often stop by to check out individual compartment housing before migrating to their housing in  another area. They will often fly from compartment to compartment causing a scene with their boisterous flying antics and vocal songs.

Communal early Spring roosting occurs when martins from various housing in the area come together before they settle down for the season sometimes at another site or their own if they can attract other birds to the site. Often these martins will congregate at another site since  they seem to enjoy the company of more martins rather than being by themselves in a single house or a single unoccupied colony. They seem to return off and on until more martins arrive at the site and will sneak back to their own colony late in the day under the cover of darkness or just before sunset .

The scout arrival study which has been undertaken for a number of years now by PMCA members and by individual landlords in our area record the day when they notice the martin appear at their site and report the data online to the Purple Martin Conservation Association. The PMCA Scout Arrival Study has been in operation for many years now and because of this database of arrivals, landlords are able to anticipate their own purple martin arrival times as well as those in their immediate area.

Housing is often raised when martins are expected in the  area but the entrances are left unopened  until the first martins arrive. Why? If the housing is opened too early, the landlord is faced with attracting the house sparrows and starlings in the area who compete for the same nest cavities.

To report your colony arrival dates use the link and suggestions below and follow the steps for reporting as recommended by the PMCA. If you would like to report the arrivals to the OPMA so that others may know, send an email to and the information will be posted on the OPMA website.

To view just this year’s results to date, the link will show the North America arrival map. Click on any province or state to view this year’s martin arrival dates. The map will show several purple dots from all the purple submissions as the martins head north with some yellow to show the sub-adult movement.

How to Report : Submit your scout or first martin arrival date for free using the report form on their website or phone, email,fax. or mail them your scout date for the year. If you have other records you’ve never sent, they can be done as well. You must create an account with them to enter the data online or ask someone else who has one to add your data. Creating an account is free and requires no membership dues.

Be involved! Help Conservation! Report your first martin arrival.

Scout Report 

Dr. Kevin Fraser, University of Manitoba is working with OPMA and Nature Canada to track purple martins using geolocators and nano-tags . During the summer of 2017 more than fifty tags were deployed throughout Ontario.

Staff of Nature Canada and Dr. Kevin Fraser went to three sites along the Great Lakes shorelines to deploy 56 Motus nanotags on Purple Martin Families in Ontario. Similar to GPS and geolocator devices, the birds wear the nanotags (radio-tracking device) like a small backpack. Each nanotag is programed to emit a unique radio signal every 10 seconds which can be detected up to 15km away from Motus towers or receiving stations. Each time a tagged bird comes within contact of a receiver, it records the signal to document their comings and goings.

Check out the work that he is doing with Purple Martins including the H2H Project (The Hemisphere to Hemisphere Project….Read more...