Purple Martins in the Amazon

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Purple Martins in the Amazon
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Purple Martins in the Amazon
Dr. Mario Cohn-Haft, The National Institute of Amazonian Research

The Amazon has the highest bird diversity of any ecosystem in the world. With so many permanent resident species, it’s hard even to imagine how migrants can squeeze in for part of the year. Purple Martins were long thought to overshoot the Amazon basin on their way to wintering grounds further south. Thanks to recent research, we’re now developing a more complex view of the importance of the Amazon for Purple Martins and vice-versa. Hundreds of thousands visit the region every year, sleeping in enormous communal roosts. Perhaps the entire eastern North American breeding population spends the winter in the Amazon, but not necessarily concentrated in one part or staying in the same area all winter. Understanding these movements, habitat and resource use by the martins, their interactions with other species, and the dangers that they face on the wintering grounds are the subjects of vigorous ongoing study conducted by a newly formed international research team whose first results will be sketched out here and presented in more detail in the following talks.

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