The fourth annual Outdoor Purple Martin Festival will be held in Columbia, S.D. (near Aberdeen) Saturday, June 13. Tickets can be purchased online at

This is a chance to learn more about the birds and their ecological benefits. A hands-on how-to will introduce attendees to creation and maintenance of a martin colony, one box or more.

Martins are cavity nesters that need human assistance given the lack of natural cavities that would accommodate this colonial species. Martins also are prodigious consumers of flying insects. They make wonderful backyard guests, but do prefer nesting locations near water.

Breakfast and lunch socials will be available. Festival hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Overnight accommodations can be found by contacting the Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau:

Another attraction is Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a wonderful birding location. It’s located a few miles north of Columbia. Visit there on Sunday. Columbia is about a four-hour drive from the Twin Cities.

For more information, contact Perry D. Vogel, president of the Purple Martin Association of the Dakotas, and festival co-founder. His phone number is (218) 791-3689, email 

The event will take place at the residence of Paul and Joy Mammenga, 12345 396th Ave, Columbia.

You can find martin nesting equipment and supplies at

Above, a pair of Purple Martins on the porch of their home. Below, a multi-cavity box hosting several pairs of martins. Martins also nest in simple gourd-shaped plastic houses hung from a pole. Examples of these can be seen at Memory Lake in Grantsburg, Wis. The box below is part of a martin colony maintained at the public beach in Wayzata.

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