Greenwich Point Purple Martins



Purple Martin History

The Friends of Greenwich Point (FoGP) installed the first twelve gourd purple martin complex on the upper beach near the entry gate at Greenwich Point Park in 2011. Our purpose was to establish a successful Purple Martin Colony at the Point and that goal was achieved by the second season. The twelve gourd complex was expanded to three poles and 36 gourds with the help of a matching grant from Audubon Connecticut in 2014. These three units were gradually moved to the Clam Bake area by the 2016 Season.

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Thirty of the thirty six gourds were installed on 4/3/19 with the help of Sarah Coccaro, the Town’s Conservation Resource Manager. Within a few days the year’s first purple martins were observed.  Regular weekly monitoring will shortly start to occur at the colony and anyone wishing to assist as a volunteer could contact Sarah.

July 2020 

Friends of Greenwich Point teamed up with Sarah Coccaro of the Greenwich Conservation Commission to highlight the purple martins that call Greenwich Point their home in summer. First, Sarah recorded her weekly check of the purple martin colony in a video shot by student volunteer Grace Usowski. In the clip, you can discover more about the purple martins' unique coloring, nest building, predators and conservation efforts and even peek inside the gourd-shaped nests located near the clambake area for a glimpse of their eggs. video:  

During the 2018 season there were 18 nests in the 24 available gourds. Eighty four eggs were laid and seventy hatched. Sixty two chicks survived to fledge and leave to migrate south. In the eight years the colony has been at the Point, two hundred and seventy three eggs were laid in sixty six nests. Two hundred and twenty of those eggs hatched and one hundred eighty six chicks fledged.

The CT Department on Energy and Environment (DEEP) has banded one hundred and fifty two chicks on five different years. Staff and volunteers weren’t available on all years. Plastic blue and yellow bands were placed on all Greenwich Point banded juveniles.

Why all this effort to help out Purple Martins, the largest swallows breeding in Connecticut?  The purple martin is one of North America’s most beloved songbirds. It is known for its skillful aerial exhibitions, tolerance of humans, and pleasant twittering call.  Over thousands of years Purple Martins on the east coast have only been able to nest in man-made nests.  As a result their numbers have been declining in CT and adjacent states.  Coordinated efforts by State Wildlife Agencies, regional Audubon organizations like Audubon CT and The Connecticut Audubon Society as well as many private individuals have started to place Purple Martin houses in appropriate habitats in all the New England States. These actions have slowed the population decline.  The FoGP and the Greenwich Conservation Commission are playing an important role in reestablishing Purple Martin breeding colonies in Greenwich.

For more information about the Purple Martin Nesting project at Greenwich Point, click on these links.


Spring 2011 Newsletter                           Winter 2012 Newsletter                              Winter 2013 Newsletter

New Home for Purple Martins              Birdhouse Sparks DEEP Interest            Purple Martins call Greenwich Point Home

By Cynthia Ehlinger                                 By Denise Savageau                                 By Mike Aurelia


Autumn 2013 Newsletter                         Autumn 2015 Newsletter

Bird House Filled to Capacity              Purple Martin Success Story

By Mike Aurelia                                       By Cindy Catterson


Our mission is to act as an advocate for Greenwich Point. 

We are committed to responsible stewardship and public education to preserve and enhance Greenwich Point's diverse natural environments and beauty; to safe and appropriate recreation; and to the maintenance of its facilities. The Friends of Greenwich Point initiates and carries out projects related to the organization's mission, complementing the efforts and resources of the town.

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