Where to Put Birdhouses for Purple Martins

The Purple Martin, Progne subis, is one of those birds that people just love to see in their backyard. This welcome visitor is a pleasant sight to behold, but for many people its more important attribute is its ability to consume hundreds of insects each day. Their voracious appetite means that the backyard can be a more pleasant place to relax in.

Many homeowners therefore seek to attract Purple Martins to their backyards, and the main way that this is done is by building birdhouses for these birds. Simply building a birdhouse though will not be enough to attract Purple Martins, as the birdhouse will need to be sited appropriately.

Purple Martins are well known for their aerial abilities, and as such any birdhouse designed to attract them will need to be placed in an open area. This means that the birdhouse will need to be, in general, at least 30 feet from any building, and also a similar distance from any trees. The larger the amount of open space around the bird house is, the better.

Birdhouses for Purple Martins also have some specific construction requirements. Bird houses should be constructed on top of sturdy poles that are at least 10 feet tall, with ideal heights being between 10 and 20 feet.

The right location for a birdhouse for Purple Martins will help attract the birds to the backyard, but there is more to be done to ensure that they keep coming back.

Birdhouses for Purple Martins are a prime hunting site for predators, as well as competing birds. To this end the area around the pole upon which the birdhouse or gourd is constructed, needs to be kept clear of shrubs or bushes. To inhibit climbing predators, pole guards should be fitted, whilst aerial predators can be put off by owl guards.

Birdhouse compartments should measure at least 6×6 inches; entrance holes should be 1 inch above the floor, and the hole itself should measure about 2 inches across. The number of compartments present is up to the individual homeowner, but Purple Martins normally prefer to live in small colonies.

Purple Martins seem to have a preference for white birdhouses, a color that helps to keep the inside of the bird house cool.

Regular checks will also need to be undertaken inside the birdhouse; looking for signs of predators as well as birds, like starlings, taking over the houses. To this end many people decide that the Purple Martin birdhouses should be fitted on a telescopic pole for ease of access. These regular checks are encouraged, and as long as they are not too invasive, will not disturb the birds.

Building birdhouses for Purple Martins is a great way to attract them to the backyard, but their importance cannot be underestimated. Across large parts of its range the manmade homes are the only appropriate sites available, and without them the birds would be a great deal scarcer than they are today.