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The Purple Martin is the largest North American swallow. These aerial acrobats have speed and agility in flight, and when approaching their housing, will dive from the sky at great speeds with their wings tucked.

Purple Martins are a kind of swallow but are larger than other swallows. The average length from bill to tail is 20 cm. Adults have a slightly forked tail. Adult males are entirely black with glossy steel blue sheen, the only swallow in North America with such coloration. Adult females are dark on top with some steel blue sheen, and lighter underparts. Subadult females look similar to adult females minus the steel blue sheen and browner on the back. Subadult males look very much like females, but solid black feathers emerge on their chest in a blotchy, random pattern as they molt to their adult plumage.

Photos

Purple Martin, White Rock Creek Greenbelt
Purple Martin, White Rock Creek Greenbelt
Purple Martin with House Sparrows, White Rock Creek Greenbelt
Purple Martin, White Rock Creek Greenbelt
Purple Martins, River Legacy Park
Purple Martins, River Legacy Park

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