Purple Martin

Progne subis

Although Purple Martins breed no closer to the Bering Sea than extreme southwest British Columbia they are very long distance migrants and thus are prone to large navigational errors. Very rare anywhere in Alaska, Purple Martins have found their way to the Pribilofs an incredible four times. The first bird was found on Saint George and was labeled “fall or winter” of 1949. The second was an adult female on Saint Paul on July 20, 1971. The third sighting was from Saint Paul on July 3, 1998. The most recent was of a first year male on Saint Paul on June 5, 2003. It is possible that the first bird, taken on Saint George was mislabeled, so one can generally assume that the Pribilof birds are all spring overshoots, arriving to the Bering Sea in early or mid summer. Watch for this, and other swallow species, along the island’s ridges and cliffs and over the freshwater lakes. There are no Russian counterparts to our large Progne Martins, but one should always check to ensure that a Martin on the Pribilofs does not belong to one of the other migratory martins of Central or South America.