John Holman

John Holman

Purple Martins are among the most intriguing of our native song birds.Attracting and keeping martins, however, can be a very challenging venture. Purple martins are unique in that they are the only North American cavity nesting bird that nearly entirely relies on humans to provide and help maintain their nesting colonies. Enjoying their flight antics and songs over an early morning cup of coffee makes every effort well worthwhile.

Opening housing at the right time is critical for success. Purple Martins only use housing during the breeding season. The first martins to arrive in an area are referred to as scouts. Scouts tend to be adult males looking for suitable nesting areas that will best attract females. Subadult martins (last year’s young) will begin arriving 4-12 weeks after the first adults.  

Until the birds begin to arrive back from migration, keep houses and gourds closed. This will deter other native and non-native cavity-nesting birds, such as Tree Swallows, bluebirds, House Sparrows, and European Starlings from claiming the housing.  

 

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