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• Purple Martins pair after they find a nesting site.
• Pair bond only lasts for one nesting season.
• Purple Martins will eat egg shells which helps boost their calcium intake.
• The Purple Martin Conservation Association recommends that all gourds and houses be painted white to help keep them cool.
• Most success in occupancy occurs when the houses are placed closer to human houses (within 100’) and away from tree lines at least 40’).
• Also most successful, if other birds start to nest, the houses are closed off and then reopened later. Be sure to place appropriate houses nearby (wren, swallow, etc.).
• Regular monitoring is an important part of successful martin management
• Landlords who do not monitor their site will not know if predators such as rat snakes, raccoons, or owls have raided the site at night. Such raids usually result in permanent abandonment of the colony site.
Purple martin houses must be placed in an open area, in full sun most of the day, with a white exterior for coolness. A martin house can be any size from four to six compartments or more.
Housing should come with door plugs to close compartment holes during the off season, and in early spring. This is essential for keeping house sparrows and starlings from taking over martin housing.
A height of 12’ to 20’ for mounting a purple martin house is recommended; no higher unless necessary, due to nearby trees or other obstacles in the flyway. The higher housing is placed, the more susceptible it is to wind and storm damage. Most commercial pole systems are 12’ to 15’ high, after installation. Poles need to be set in concrete, so 18" - 24" of the pole will be underground. Martins require a wide open area around their housing, and martin housing should always be placed within 100’ of people (a house, or other active area), and at least 40’ from trees, farther if possible. In the southern half of their breeding range, martins will sometimes nest within 15’-25’ of trees.
Any house or gourd system should lower and raise vertically. This is necessary for two reasons: to allow for regular, sometimes daily, removal of house sparrow and European starling nests; and to allow for safe and easy monitoring of nesting martins. If they are allowed to nest in martin housing, martins will not stay. House sparrows and starlings will chase off and fight with martins, break their eggs, and even kill nesting and adult martins.
Landlords who do not monitor their site will not know if predators such as rat snakes, raccoons, or owls have raided the site at night. Such raids usually result in permanent abandonment of the colony site. A landlord, who is alerted to the situation through monitoring, will be able to take steps to protect the colony site, by adding a predator guard to the pole, and owl guards to the house. A tilt-down housing system, on a hinged pole, is not recommended, as it cannot be accessed once the martins begin nesting.
Perches at each entrance hole are not desirable, and will only encourage house sparrows and starlings.
Use of Sulfur and Sevin are NOT recommended for bird boxes for parasite control. If not used properly they can kill adult birds as well as nestling.