Ten Reasons Why People Fail to Attract Purple Martins

Purple Martins on birdhouse
Over one million people maintain housing for Purple Martins. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of these folks successfully attract breeding martins. Below is a list of the top ten reasons why so many people fail. Your chances of attracting martins will greatly increase if you avoid making these common mistakes.

1. Housing placed to close to tall trees or in yards that are too enclosed. There should be no trees taller than martin housing within 40 feet of it, preferably 60.
2. Landlord allows other bird species to claim the housing first. These houses will rarely attract martins.
3. Housing placed too far from human housing. Research has shown that martin housing placed more than 120 feet from human housing has a lower chance of being occupied. This is because martins have “learned” through natural selection that the closer they nest to man the safer they are from predators.
4. Houses not painted white. White attracts them the best.
5. Housing opened up too early. Do not open housing until about four weeks after the first martins are scheduled to return to the area. Here about mid March.
6. Fail to open martin housing. Again timing is everything.
7. Vines and shrubs are allowed to grow up under the housing. Keep this area clean of plants.
8. Housing not really “built to specifications”.
9. Housing attached to wires or placed too close to wires. They fear predators.
10. Landlords buy or build housing that can’t be easily managed. Landlords need to vertically lower their housing often (sometimes daily), to check for competitors and to check on martin nestlings.

I wish you luck in your purple martin adventures. It is a sure treat to have them call your property home.

4 Responses to Ten Reasons Why People Fail to Attract Purple Martins

  1. Mary Wallach says:

    We love our Purple Martins and can hardly wait for their return each spring. We are fortunate they choose our farm as a place to raise their young. They have come to the farm since 1989, when we placed our first martin house up. We now have three houses and get about 8 birds early and more to come. They are very social birds. They love to fly behind my husband on his tractor as he mows the lawn throwing up insects as he goes. Their acrobatics are hiliarious. We love their chatter and they are so much company in the yard. There is no insect problems while they are here. We are always lonely when they return to Brazil but wait for their anticipated return.

    • Hillermann says:

      Thank you for your comment. I have to agree with you about how much fun the Purple Martins are to watch and how they keep the insect populations down. We are always glade to hear about how others enjoy these and other birds! They bring a lot of joy and benefits to our lives!

  2. Doris Boland says:

    Fortunately, my husband and I have Purple Martins return every year, The love for these birds was passed on to me by my dad. Our Purple Martin house is in an ideal location with a lake behind their house, and we can sit on our deck in the evenings to watch and listen to these beautiful birds.
    Thanks, Sandi for your newsletter and the ten reasons we need to know to be successful at attracting these beautiful birds to our yard.

  3. Hillermann says:

    Thank you for your comment Doris! The purple martins are truly unique and beautiful birds. Thank you for sharing your admiration for them.

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