GREAT IDEA!! EXPERIENCE PURPLE MARTINS IN YOUR YARD
BY LEARNING ABOUT
THEN PLACING AND CHOOSING A PURPLE MARTIN BIRDHOUSE SHOULD BE A BREEZE!!
Purple Martin Birdhouse
There is basically two types of birdhouses for the Purple Martin. One being Conventional and the other being Gourds. One does not appear to be better than the other, it is just a preference a person makes. Some people own both and place them together and let the birds decide which one they would like to use. As long as the interior dimensions and entry hole size are acceptable for Purple Martins. Either birdhouse you choose, should attract Purple Martins. The height of conventional or gourd birdhouses should be place between 12 and 20 feet high.
The conventional birdhouse for Purple Martins can be made out of wood, metal, or plastic. Usually the birdhouses are built to accommodate 4 or more families, each with their own house (compartment) within the same birdhouse. Purple Martins are a social bird and often nest in colonies. That is why Purple Martin birdhouse are built to accommodate many families at one time.
Birdhouses for the Purple Martin can be purchased with each compartment being 6" x 6", but over time, it has been determine that each compartment would be better at 6"W x 12"L with a height between 5" and 7". (7"W x 12"L would even be a better dimension.) Some people who have purchased houses with the smaller compartments have modified each compartment to accommodate the larger living area. The purpose of the larger area is to help protect the nest from predator birds, which will not be able to reach to the back of the compartment, since the Purple Martin will naturally build the nest towards the back, away from the entry hole. Also, having a spacious compartment allows nestlings to spread out, which will help keep them cool in hot temperatures. Plus the nestlings are less likely to jump prematurely when they are kept in a comfortable and cool house.
ROUND HOLE: The round entrance holes are usually 2-1/8” in diameter, but can range between 1-3/4” to 2-1/4” and the entrance hole should be 1" to 1-1/2” above the porch or floor.
CRESCENT HOLE: The crescent entrance hole should be 3” wide and 1-3/16” in height and should be placed no higher than 1/2” above the porch or floor. The purpose of the crescent hole is to help prevent Starling birds from entering in and taking over the nest. While the Purple Marin has no problem entering a hole of this shape.Before Buying, Read More On The Different Types Of Conventional Purple Martin Houses
Gourd birdhouses for the Purple Martin are usually made out of plastic, but can also be made from a natural material that already provides the shape of a gourd. When setting out gourds for Purple Martins, a minimum of four gourds should be placed. Purple Martins are a social bird and often nest in colonies. So by placing the minimum number of gourds will help attract the martin to your yard. You have a variety of ways to hang your gourds, which can be done by placing them underneath an existing martin house, from a gourd rack, or hang them on a line between two poles.
Gourds should be no less than 8” in diameter, but gourds between 10"-12” diameter range, will be better suited for the Purple Martin.
ROUND HOLE: The round entrance holes are usually 2-1/8” in diameter, but can range between 1-3/4” and 2-1/4”
CRESCENT HOLE: The crescent entrance hole should be 3” wide and 1-3/16” in height. The purpose of the crescent hole is to help prevent Starling birds from entering in and taking over the nest. While the Purple Marin has no problem entering a hole of this shape. A crescent should be used if you start having a Starling problem.Before Buying, Read More On Gourds Both Natural And Plastic
Place your birdhouse in the most open area in your yard. Allow 40 to 60 feet away from any trees and buildings. This will help prevent some flying predators from ambushing the Purple Martin, Plus 40 to 60 feet, allows the martins a bit of space to build up speed to fly away from other bird predators. Purple Martins have a sense of protection when near people. So if you have a smaller yard, you can take advantage of this sense of protection and place your bird house closer to your house. Place your birdhouse on top of a pole with a winch so you can lower your birdhouse to do nest checks. (Cleaning out nests that are not Purple Martins) Place a baffle around the pole, both a wooden or steel pole, to help keep snakes and raccoons from climbing up to the birdhouse. A crescent entry hole helps prevent Starlings from entering inside the birdhouse and taking over. Adding predator guards that prevent predators from entering the entrance hole will help the martins
Place your gourds at the same distance of 40 to 60 feet away from any trees and buildings. For the same reason as placing a conventional house to help prevent flying predators from ambushing and allowing the martin to build up speed to fly away from other bird predators. If you hang your gourds on a pole have a winch on the pole so you can lower your gourds to do nest checks. (Cleaning out nests that are not Purple Martins) Place a baffle around the pole, both a wooden or steel pole, to help keep snakes and raccoons from climbing up to the birdhouse. A crescent entry hole helps prevent Starlings from entering inside the birdhouse and taking over. Adding predator guards that prevent predators from entering the entrance hole will help the martins. One advantage a gourd has, it is able to have a swing motion, when a heavier bird tries to attack, Therefor it makes it more difficult for a predator to attack the birds inside. Plus starlings and sparrows do not like the motion.
Attracting Purple Martins
Attracting Purple Martins to your your yard can only be done with a birdhouse. With that said, you can place egg shells in a platform feeder, so they can get their calcium intake. The egg shells will also act like grit to help them grind there food. Usually Purple Martins will not visit bird feeders at all for a food source. So a birdhouse or a gourd will be the only desired choice to attract the birds to your yard. When purchasing a birdhouse or gourd, make sure the over all color is white. Purple Martins are attracted to the color and the white color will help keep it cool inside. If your area has a problem with European Sparrows (House Sparrows) You may want to consider using gourds instead of the apartment style houses, when trying to attract the Purple Martin.
Once you have placed your birdhouse, you may not get Purple Martins right away, it could take up to a year before you see any Purple Martins taking up residence. But once you get Purple Martins living in your birdhouses, they will return year after year. If this is your first time setting up a birdhouse for Purple Martins, offer a birdhouse that has at least a minimum of six cavities so the younger Purple Martins that are looking for a nesting area have room for the colony to grow. You never know, you may even lure in a older male purple martin to take up residence. Then the males will try and attract other Purple Martins to stay.
Placement of Purple Martin House or Gourd
Place your Purple Martin birdhouse 40 to 60 feet away from any trees or buildings. Also the martins like human activity. Purple Martins have a sense of protection being close to people, so you can place their house a bit closer, should be no less than 30 feet and no more than100 feet of your house. Purple Martin houses can be placed near a park, or any area where people maybe present from time to time. So now your ready for the Purple Martin migration to come back to North America starting in the spring. First the older males will arrive, usually they will go back to the same birdhouse they used before, but they may scout the area looking for a new place to live if they had a bad experience the year before. If you notice you do not get any Purple Martins when they first arrive or none have arrived by the date listed in the area you live. Do not worry, cause there is a second wave of Purple Martins that will come 3 to 4 weeks later. This group are the younger martins that where born in the previous year, These young martins usually do not return to the house they was born in, so they will be searching for new birdhouses that are not occupied, so they can attract a female to raise a brood with.
Understanding Purple Martins
Purple Martins are the largest member of the swallow family and can be as big as 8 inches long. Each winter they migrate south to Brazil and then at the beginning of the year, the Purple Martin starts to migrate towards North America. As the weather starts to warm up, the birds migration keeps moving northward as the insect population is plentiful. The males usually arrive first to the nesting cavities and then try to attract newly arriving females to raise a brood with. Colonies can get as big as 300 nesting pairs, as long as there are enough nesting cavities to support that many Purple Martins. Martins have a very strong "site tenacity" meaning they will often return to the same site to nest year after year.
Insects make up the majority of the Purple Martins diet. The martins can be seen in the sky during the early morning and late afternoon, dipping and diving while snatching insects out of the air. The insects they might be snatching out of the sky could be beetles, butterflies, cicadas, damselflies, dragonflies, leafhoppers, mayflies, moths, stinkbugs, wasps, winged ants as well as houseflies. Martins generally feed high in the air, around 150 to 400 feet and even as high as 1000 feet. So their diet consist of insects that also fly at these heights. Even though Martins do eat other insects such as mosquitoes, they do not eat as many mosquitoes as people think, since mosquitoes usually stay below 40' , they only make up 2% of a Purple Martins diet.
Purple Martins drink water while in flight. They will fly over a lake, a pond, stream or river and just skim the waters surface while taking a drink. Purple Martins do not use bird baths nor with they stop and drink from a puddle like other birds may do.
Is Your Yard Able To Have Purple Martins
Purple Martins like to swoop into their nests, so if your yard has any tall trees or tall buildings where you want to place the Purple Martin house, it is going to be difficult for them and they will not be interested in the house you have set up. Purple Martins will also ovoid a house or gourd because they will feel threatened of owls and hawks, if it is place to close or under trees. A good rule of thumb is, the height of the tree or building, should be the same distance you place your Purple Martin house or gourds. Usually 40 to 60 feet is plenty enough space, but that all depends on your yard. Purple Martins have an attraction to people, so your house is considered a bit different to the Martin. The Purple Martin house or gourds can be close as 30 feet, as long as your house is not taller than the Purple Martin house.
Water is another important consideration to know before you purchase a Purple Martin house or gourd. Purple Martins have been known to fly up to 5 miles to get a drink of water. It does not take a long time for a martin to fly that distance, but the closer the water source, such as a pond, river, lake, or a collection of water, the better success of having Purple Martins to your yard. Purchasing a bird bath will not solve this problem, since Purple Martins do not use bird baths. Most of the time, water sources are closer than one realizes.