“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Oak Harbor in Ottawa County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Purple Martins

Purple Martins Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, April 16, 2022
1. Purple Martins Marker
Purple martins are social birds with a close relationship to people. Historically, purple martins nested in dead trees hollowed by woodpeckers. Native Americans began the practice of providing gourds as housing for purple martins. When the settlers arrived, they built martin houses on top of buildings. Then the introduction of two non-native, aggressive birds - house sparrows and European starlings combined with logging, eliminated natural cavities for purple martins. Today, east of the Rockies, purple martins are entirely dependent on man-made housing for nesting habitat.

Adult males are overall iridescent dark purple taking two years to acquire this plumage. Females are gray-brown with small patches of iridescent purple on their head or back. Females appear very similar to juvenile males. However, young males will have some purple feathers on their chest, bellies, or undertail.

Please Help Us!
In Ohio, purple martin populations have been in steep decline for decades. In our state, these birds nest exclusively in man-made housing, which is in short supply. If you have open habitat,
Purple Martins Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, April 16, 2022
2. Purple Martins Marker
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especially near water, consider adding a purple martin house to your yard.

Open Habitat
These aerial acrobats need open habitat with ample room to swoop and catch flying insects. A purple martin house can be placed near water or in an open area, but it must be near a human house and away from nearby large trees.

Purple martins are agile insect hunters and eat large amounts of flying winged insects. Dragonflies and damselflies are some of their favorites.

Nesting Behaviors
Purple martins build flat nests with straw, twigs, dried pine needles, or even mud. Just before the female lays her eggs, the pair adds a layer of fresh green leaves. Purple martins typically lay between 4 and 6 pure white eggs.

These purple martins will join other colonies creating large flocks before traveling over 4,000 miles to winter in South America.

Before purchasing a purple martin house, research how to be a good landlord. European starlings can be kept out by oval-shaped holes as seen on these gourds, however weekly nest checks are important to remove house sparrow nests. For more information, visit
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AnimalsAnthropology & Archaeology
Purple Martins Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, April 16, 2022
3. Purple Martins Marker
EnvironmentNative Americans.
Location. 41° 36.741′ N, 83° 11.315′ W. Marker is in Oak Harbor, Ohio, in Ottawa County. Marker is on Park Road 1, 0.8 miles north of Ohio Route 2, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 13229 OH-2, Oak Harbor OH 43449, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Sport Fish & Wildlife Restoration (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); History Of Magee Marsh (about 300 feet away); Magee Marsh Wildlife Area (approx. 0.6 miles away); Veterans Memorial (approx. 4.4 miles away); Carroll Township Hall (approx. 4½ miles away); Rocky Ridge Veterans Memorial (approx. 5.6 miles away); Veterans Memorial Gazebo (approx. 6.2 miles away); Elliston Civil War Memorial (approx. 6½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Oak Harbor.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 5, 2022. It was originally submitted on April 26, 2022, by Craig Doda of Napoleon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 109 times since then and 25 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on April 26, 2022, by Craig Doda of Napoleon, Ohio. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 25, 2023