The Purple Martin is the largest swallow in North America and the only species of martins on this continent. In the East, Purple Martins have become almost completely dependent on humans, primarily nesting in man-made structures while out West they prefer natural cavities. Males are all dark with a glossy blue-black. Females are duller and grayish below. Purple Martins are extremely social birds. Nesting colonies may include hundreds of pairs of birds, and roosting colonies later in the season may have tens of thousands of birds!
Purple Martins are not seed eaters. Instead they enjoy vast quantities of insects such as mosquitoes, beetles, flies, dragonflies and moths. Forgo spraying pesticides in your yard as this will diminish the natural insect population that is the bulk of their diet.
Purple Martins are best known for their communal nesting in human built apartment houses that are quite large with multiple compartments. The best way to attract them is to put up a Purple Martin House. They are naturally attracted to homes painted white which reflect heat and keep nests cooler. Creating clusters of houses will encourage large colonies to nest.
We suggest mounting your house 15 to 20 feet above ground and near a permanent water source for best results. Find a spot that is in an open area (ideally 40-50’ square area) that allows for good foraging opportunities. Surprisingly, you will increase your chances of attracting martins if their housing is placed within 100 feet of your house or other human habitation as they feel a sense of protection near humans! Ask us about special poles that allow you to lower and raise your house for periodic cleaning and maintenance.
Martins construct their nests of leaves, grass and feathers. Try offering these supplies hanging about your yard in old suet cages. Or, try our ready-made nesting material for added success. Predator Guards can be installed on the houses to protect from natural predators such as owls, hawks, snakes and raccoons.
Did You Know?
The association between Purple Martins and humans began centuries ago when Native Americans hung gourds for the birds to nest in, hoping to attract them to help keep insects away from crops.
Purple martins are complete neotropical migrants and travel from North America in the summer to South America as far as Brazil and Argentina in the winter. The full migration can take 2-3 months to complete.