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Old 03-12-2008, 02:11 PM
Location: Visitation between Wal-Mart & Home Depot
8,309 posts, read 30,591,755 times
Reputation: 6949


Hi guys,

I put a martin house in my backyard in early February. I had to locate it fairly close to my house to protect the residents from intruders in overhanging trees and powerlines, but I'm a little concerned that the location may be a turn-off for the martins. It's about seven feet away from the southernmost corner of my house and it only rises about six feet above the deck of the roof. My concern is that the martins may be feeling that this house is too low to be a secure location. Any martineers know if this will be a problem?
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Old 03-14-2008, 02:13 PM
238 posts, read 630,636 times
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Can you describe for me what a purple martin is, OP? Somehow, I've never heard of such, and we have lots of birds in our state. Can you tell us?
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Old 03-14-2008, 02:40 PM
Location: U.S.A.
283 posts, read 1,091,257 times
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The Purple Martin Conservation Association web site (below) can answer most, if not all, of you questions.
Purple Martin Conservation Association

Jimboburnsy this particular page may answer your questions:
PMCA Information

I had very good luck with my martin box down at my beach house because I had no trees and put the box atop a pivoting tower (made of 2x4's nailed together) about 20 ft high and well away from my back porch. But, here in town, my house and neighborhood have so many trees that I've had no luck attracting them. I think I need more open space around the box. (I guess I should read that information very carefully myself.)
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Old 03-15-2008, 08:43 AM
Location: Texas Hill Country
2,371 posts, read 7,943,845 times
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Jimbo, some folks over at the San Antonio forum seem to have a good ideas about attracting p. Martins you might ask them over there.
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Old 03-15-2008, 09:21 AM
Location: la hacienda
2,259 posts, read 8,151,115 times
Reputation: 1135
I believe they are migratory birds, so while they might not inhibit your bird house now, in the spring/summer you might get some. Make sure it's clean, they won't nest in there if another type of bird has nested in it already. They need to have plenty of "swooping" in and out space. Good luck, I've always wanted to try this.
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Old 03-15-2008, 11:38 AM
Location: Austin 'burbs
3,226 posts, read 12,040,145 times
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I have heard that if your box is not out by January, you are out of luck. The scouts are out in January.
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Old 03-15-2008, 11:40 AM
Location: Austin 'burbs
3,226 posts, read 12,040,145 times
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So I don't know if what I posted above is factual, it's just what I have heard - but this site gives lots of information on attracting them, and appropriate housing & placement.

Attracting and Managing Purple Martins
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Old 05-12-2009, 03:14 AM
2 posts, read 4,131 times
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I was looking to attract them for their taste for mosquitos but regretfully I found this on Purple Martin Conservation Association the purple martin conservation association.
"Martins are not, however, prodigious consumers of mosquitoes as is so often claimed by companies that manufacture martin housing...PMCA headquarters in Edinboro, PA, failed to find a single mosquito among the 500 diet samples collected from parent martins bringing beakfuls of insects to their young. "
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Old 05-12-2009, 07:38 AM
Location: California
10,092 posts, read 32,977,479 times
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We've had a Purple Martin house in the back for about 3 years now. They always arrived in Feb-March...and I had swarms of them. Very cool to watch and we were always in awe just how many could fit into the little house! Then Hurricane Ike hit and took the house out. We replaced it with a 3 tier model (the old was 2). I was really beginning to worry...The house was in the exact same spot...but we never saw a single bird until late April!!!!!!!! They are out there now...and I know there are some babies that have hatched...but there doesn't appear to be as many.
I went out this morning to take these pictures...and check out who was sitting in a Queen Palm across the yard! This guy is allowed to take out the pigeons...but I'm hoping he leaves the Martins alone!!!!! I wouldn't think there would be enough meat on their bones to satisfy him! He was not happy I was out there and so close....He flew down at me and then swooped off...just to warn me.

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Old 05-12-2009, 08:03 AM
Location: Visitation between Wal-Mart & Home Depot
8,309 posts, read 30,591,755 times
Reputation: 6949
My grandfather always had martins and I wish he was still around to give me some pointers.

I've been tearing out sparrow nests about once a week but that may not be enough. They seem to put a little bit of junk in every apartment; I don't know if that is intentional or not but it seems to be enough to discourage the martins.

I may have to start prosecuting an offensive against the sparrows. A man in a neighborhood nearby has a five-level house (like the one you have but with extra stories) and eight gourds hanging beneath it. All units occupied. Its really something to see at sunset when the martins start coming in to roost. He actually bands his martins and has had the same family of birds spend their summers at his house for over fifty years. He has also fitted a few with tracking transmitters to see where they go. They apparently fly over the gulf of Mexico non-stop and work their way south from the Yucatan peninsula to the wintering grounds in Brazil. Pretty cool if you ask me, but I think I'm more geared towards "arms-length" martin appreciation.

Anyway, he swears that the trick to keeping martins is killing any sparrows and starlings on sight and avoiding overhanging trees. He has one unit on his house that is a sparrow trap. The hole is too small for martins to enter and sparrows apparently prefer a slightly smaller diameter hole than what is optimal for martins. When the sparrow enters and engages the trigger it drops a small strip of metal across the entrance, preventing the sparrow's escape. He says he lowers the house, retrieves the sparrow and pulls its head off. That's a serious martineer.

Its true that they don't eat mosquitoes. They like bigger insects like grasshoppers, dragonflies, houseflies, etc. etc. Mosquitoes are just too insubstantial.

Shelby, apparently screech owls are bad news for martins (can raid a martin house at night) but I don't think that bigger bodied hawks would be trying to catch small, fighter jet martins when they have a supply of half-tame ducks, squirrels and fat city pigeons to draw from. Worry not.
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