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Spending the winter in tropical Brazil
A substantial part of North America's purple martin population winters in the southern Brazilian state of São Paulo. This state covers more than 95,000 square miles, but the part of the state in which they are most heavily concentrated is smaller - about the size of Missouri or Oklahoma. In 1984, flocks were studied in 12 cities listed on this map, representing only a small part of the total wintering population. While this state contains the world's fourth largest city (São Pãulo, 12 million), much of it is gently rolling countryside covered with sugarcane, corn and coffee plantations and orchards, and dotted with smaller cities. In some ways it resembles the North American areas in which a majority of martins nest.
Martins forage every day over cane and coffee plantations, and consume enormous numbers of insects, including two very important crop pests - a soybean moth and cane parasite - as well as mosquitoes. Moreover, their presence in Brazil occurs just at the time these insects most commonly lay eggs.
Although the southern Brazil population represents most martins, it is not the only wintering population. Some birds winter in the Amazon and a number of areas scattered across extreme northern South America.
Current weather in São Paulo, Brazil.