Purple Martin Bird Houses
A group of Purple Martins is capable of eating tens of thousands of mosquitoes in a single day.
If you enjoy watching wild birds and want to attract purple martins to your property, there are a few things you can do to easily create the perfect habitat for these migratory birds.
Why Attract Purple Martins?
Purple Martins are beautiful, friendly birds that seem to enjoy the company of humans as much as humans enjoy listening to their song. In addition to their aesthetic qualities, Purple Martins are also beneficial. A group of Purple Martins is capable of eating tens of thousands of mosquitoes in a single day. Hosting this wild bird species will help you control insects in a natural way without using chemicals that can harm plants and animals. Bats and some other bird species are also beneficial in this way. Many people interested in natural mosquito control invest in Purple Martin houses and bat houses to naturally control mosquitoes and other insects during the summer.
In addition to mosquitoes, Purple Martins like to eat beetles, flies, moths, bees, and dragon flies, creating a virtually bug-free backyard.
Six Easy Steps to Attract Purple Martins
Follow these steps to attract Purple Martins to your yard:
- Install bird houses specifically made for the Purple Martin species of bird. This includes Purple Martin bird houses or gourds with small entry holes.
- Place Purple Martin houses in open locations away from trees. The general rule is to place Purple Martin houses at least 40 feet from any other obstructions.
- Initially place a few Purple Martin decoys near the houses to attract real birds.
- Group more than one Purple Martin house together to create "colonies" of birds. This will attract more Purple Martins.
- Check the nests every few weeks and remove any predators' nests that may have invaded the Purple Martins' house.
- Make nesting materials available after the Purple Martins have arrived. This includes straw, pine needles, twigs, and other yard debris.
Why Do Purple Martins Need Houses?
Because Purple Martins are unable to excavate their own nesting holes, these birds rely almost completely on man-made housing for nesting and reproduction. For this reason, providing bird houses for Purple Martins is very important to attracting them to your backyard and keeping them coming back year after year.
Purple Martins use Purple Martin houses to nest and provide protection from other birds that may harm their young. The entry holes in a Purple Martin house are too small for larger bird species to fit through. This makes the Purple Martin house perfect for breeding and raising baby birds.
Purple Martin eggs are oval in shape and white in color. A normal clutch of Purple Martin eggs contains anywhere from five to seven eggs.
Purple Martins keep neat and tidy nests usually made from straw, leaves, twigs, and dirt. Purple Martins usually build their nests in the back of the nesting compartment. This is an instinctual behavior meant to protect the nest from invaders.
Where to Put Purple Martin Bird Houses
Purple Martin houses should be placed in the most open areas of the yard. Locate the bird houses away from trees. This allows the Purple Martins to soar and swoop without obstruction. Remember, they love to eat mosquitoes and they need room to hunt. Finally, for the benefit of the bird watcher, place Purple Martin houses near your own house. These birds love to interact with humans and are known to be among the most friendly wild bird species.
Purple Martin Facts
Purple Martins are the largest of the Swallow family of birds. Male Purple Martins appear to have dark plumage with a purple tint, while females have plumage that is a bit lighter in color and may appear more blue than purple.
Purple Martins can be seen in most U.S. states and are a common visitor to backyards with bird houses specifically made for Purple Martins. Gourds also make good houses for Purple Martins provided the holes are small enough to allow the Purple Martins to enter and not larger birds that can take over the nests of Purple Martins.
Purple Martins are migratory birds, and most will fly over 7,000 miles per year from areas of North America to South America during the winter months. Purple Martins spend five months in their nesting areas, three months in Brazil, and four months migrating. This species of bird likes to breed in the same spot year after year, so expect to see the exact same birds returning to your Purple Martin nesting house.
Purple Martin History
Purple Martins and humans have been friends for quite a long time. There is evidence of Native Americans hanging gourds for the birds to nest in, so it would appear that the benefits of attracting Purple Martins was understood even back then.
Purple Martin Predators
Purple Martins have a few predators that will harm not only adult birds but their young as well. Watch for these most common predators to the Purple Martin species and make sure none of these birds have occupied the nests of your resident Purple Martins to ensure continued reproduction and habitation:
- European Starling
- English Sparrow