FOX VALLEY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County

Retired DNR biologist works to save states Purple Martins

Local News

SHERWOOD, Wisc. – Retired DNR wildlife biologist Dick Nikolai spends countless hours trapping, weighing and banding Wisconsin’s migratory Purple Martin population in an attempt to ensure their survival in the state.

Purple Martin populations have been declining throughout Wisconsin over the past 50 years.  These aerial insectivores are colonial in nature being the largest of the swallow family raising one brood per year with about four to six eggs being laid.

Adult Purple Martins arrive from their migration from South America in spring to claim their nesting site. The females follow, with mating and nest building occurring mid-May to mid-June. After most young Martins have fledged by early August, the birds migrate back to Brazil in late August to early September.

High Cliff State Park has many walking trails along Lake Winnebago giving spectacular views offering time with nature and the many Purple Martins being housed near the marina and park office.   “Purple Martins and people have been together for centuries.  This relationship needs to broadened and shared especially for the next generation,” said Nikolai.

Information on the groups efforts is available online at from the Wisconsin Purple Martin Association and from the Friends of High Cliff State Park ( 

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