Adrian, Missouri, prides itself as an annual destination for thousands of purple martins. A migratory swallow species, purple martins (Progne subis) depend almost exclusively on humans for survival. Invasive species from Europe – the European starling and the English sparrow (aka house sparrow) – took over the traditional nesting sites of their North American brethren starting in the late-1800s through the mid-1900s, but purple martins have since made a comeback. In an effort to reestablish the species, people across the eastern half of the country now erect purple martin houses, hotels, condos and even enormous complexes. These homes, accessible from all sides and placed away from trees, attract the purple martin and are a primary reason the eastern subspecies* thrives today.

The small Bates County community of Adrian became Missouri’s official Purple Martin Capital in 2003.

*The purple martin has two subspecies—eastern and western—but Missouri is home to only the eastern subspecies. Nearly wiped out, the eastern subspecies now depends on human-made housing.


Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo)

§10.141. Purple martin capital of the state, city of Adrian. – The city of Adrian is declared to be and shall be known as the purple martin capital of the state of Missouri. (L. 2003 H.B. 463)

approved 30 May 2003
effective 28 August 2003


Photo Gallery:

Click on an image below to enlarge and read a caption. This will open a new window in the Missouri State Symbols Flickr album.

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Additional Resources:

Read about the 1967 Jefferson City “Purple Martin Massacre.”

Search historic issues of the Missouri Conservationist on the Missouri Digital Heritage website here.


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