Purple Martin Houses - Plans and Designs for a Birdhouse

A purple martin house will provide shelter as well as place for the birds to return to year after year to raise their young when located correctly. These intriguing homes are set high on poles to protect the birds from as many predators as possible. Used primarily East of the Rocky Mountains, these houses are heavily relied upon by the purple martins as they travel to and from their wintering grounds in Brazil.

Locating a Purple Martin House in the Yard

Locating a purple martin house within the yard requires careful planning and placement to ensure adequate protection from predators. If the birds fear danger they will not stay and if their young are attacked the purple martins will not return the following year. Raccoons, hawks, owls, starlings and sparrows are a few of the purple martin's worst enemies. Sparrows may inhabit the purple martin house and peck holes in the eggs, while hawks may swoop down and try to catch both the adult and chicks.

The ideal location for a purple martin house is on a pole at least 10 to 15 feet in the air, which is set at least 40 feet from the nearest trees. These are sociable birds and using decoys is one way to help attract them to a nesting site. They will respond well to both visual and audible decoys and like to be about 40 to 120 from a human house as well.

Choosing a Purple Martin House

Choosing a purple martin house will provide many style choices from a simple birdhouse gourd which was originally used for this purpose to elaborate apartment complex styles. The pole has been modernized and often comes with a lanyard, or another way to easily take the house down for cleaning in between seasons.

Gourds were originally used and recent improvements on this theme is a plastic gourd designed for easy cleaning that will last for many seasons. Wooden purple martin houses were the next step up in improvements and may offer many individual openings and nests for the birds. Aluminum houses are found as are many very modern designs that are supposed to provide additional benefits based upon observations of the nesting birds.

Shopping for a Purple Martin House

Shopping for a purple martin house can be accomplished locally through pet stores and garden centers as well as some local farm or feed stores. Online sources provide many options including numerous styles and materials. Choosing a sturdy enough pole that will accommodate the house as well as being able to easily be lowered is an important concern when choosing a house. Choosing a style that you enjoy looking at that will be easy to clean and care for will be one important consideration. They are generally not shipped entirely constructed but are easily assembled at home. Kits and plans are also available for the do-it-yourselfer.

Pricing a Purple Martin House

The pricing of a purple martin house will vary depending on the pole setup as well as the size and materials the house itself is constructed of. A basic house and pole will start at approximately 70 dollars and many are available around 120 dollars. Upper end houses and condos may easily run into the 500 dollar area. It should be remembered though that these will last many years possibly decades.

The purple martin house should be thoroughly cleaned annually, using a weak bleach solution. Ideally it should be either taken down over the winter or have the holes blocked to keep other birds from inhabiting it later in the year. The martins do not like to have sudden changes to their housing situation made, so if you are planning to replace an existing house it is ideal to place the new one near the old one for one year prior to removing the older house. Knowledge of the birds and their enemies is important when placing the home and throughout the breeding season. Lowering the house occasionally to observe and possibly take notes for future ideas while the purple martins are raising their chicks will not make them abandon their babies. Successful breeding and the raising of their young will ensure the purple martin house will accommodate guests the following year.

The purple martin has become more reliant on human provided habitat as birds which were not native to the Americas have taken over their natural habitat. Providing and maintaining a purple martin house will provide hours of enjoyment from watching them return year to year to raise new families.