For those of you trying to attract purple martins to your site, NOW is the prime time in Missouri!
On April 29th, 2021, I reported a male sub-adult (SY - second year) arrival at my colony. Sub-adults, or "SY" (second-year) birds are the birds that were hatched last season that are just now reaching our borders during migration.
I also spotted 3 sub-adult females, but the PMCA asks that we report the sub-adult males, since they're a wee bit easier to identify. Well, "easier" is subjective. Some sub-adult males are easy to identify because they have large groupings of purple feathers (the indicators of a male martin) speckled about their chest & throat. For others, it can be more subtle.
When I first started out as a landlord, I spent hours taking pictures and following a bird that I suspected was a sub-adult male, only to realize it was a sub-adult female. It takes awhile - especially, because the purple feathers that you're searching for can be few and far between or so many that it's obvious. When I absolutely couldn't identify him using his feather markings, I would just wait for him to make the typical male 'clicking' sound and THAT was the indicator that sealed the ID game!
In this photo, the SY-Male on the left is checking out an ASY-Female on the right. There are a couple of small purple feathers on his chest that are glowing in the sunlight, another one under his left wing and a couple behind his legs.
If you're a new landlord this season and awaiting purple martins, now would be a good time to start playing the dawnsong at your site. You can play it on a portable CD player, from your car's CD player with the doors open, from your house with the windows open or from your cell phone. It should be played in the wee hours of the morning (starting about 5 AM through until about 9 or 10 AM). Then start playing the daytime chatter. Purple martins like to be around other purple martins and that will help draw their attention to your new sites.
If you're still not sure of your ID skills, just watch for a bird behaving like an out-of-control, hormonal teenager. That would be the SY male.