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.