New to purple martins

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Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2020 2:41 pm
Location: Texas
Martin Colony History: None yet...

Hi I am new to purple martins and I am looking to start a colony next year. Do you have any tips for a beginner? :grin:
Mike Mack
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:56 pm
Location: Centex

One of the best things to do would be, back up a few pages on this forum and read. The farther you back up in time page wise the more you will learn. Then start asking questions. Nice to allways see new people getting in the game. Best of luck. Mike.
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2020 2:41 pm
Location: Texas
Martin Colony History: None yet...

Thank you, will do! :grin:
Posts: 263
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:13 am
Location: Kentucky/Morehead

Purple martins love to nest in Texas so that is a big plus for you. First step and I recommend doing it now is to decide what type of housing you want. Start simple with your first housing choice and then add on from there. By simple I mean a gourd rack that can hold 6, 8, or 12 gourds, or a 12-unit aluminum house. I prefer natural gourds but other options include plastic gourds - vertical or horizontal, metal houses, and wood houses. Purchase the pole and housing now and set it up in your yard this summer just to work through the learning curve. Take it down though once you have it figured out. If left up during the off-season it will attract too much attention from starlings, house sparrows, and bluebirds. You will be ready and stress-free this coming late winter or early spring to set up during the time when martins are searching for nesting sites in Texas.

Decide what type of entrances you want on your gourds or housing. Most will recommend Starling Resistant Entrance Holes (SREH) instead of round holes. I still use round holes at home because I can trap and shoot when necessary. I rarely have trouble with starlings but house sparrows are an annual issue for me.

Choose a location for your housing that is not too close to trees or buildings but is still easy for you to observe and enjoy. For example this year I cut down a tree that I loved, and then moved all my gourd racks to that part of the yard where I can sit on the carport and enjoy my martins. What a good decision! Just took me a few years to work up the courage to remove the tree. PMCA has good recommendations on the website for how to choose the proper location.

Another project to tackle this summer is to put up several bluebird nest boxes around your yard. The resident bluebirds and returning tree swallows will focus on those nest boxes first rather than your martin housing. The nest boxes will attract house sparrows away from your martin housing too. In my yard it is much easier to trap house sparrows out of the bluebird boxes compared to the natural gourds. I maintain 5 bluebird nest boxes in my yard which is just shy of one acre in size. Eventually each spring after removing 5 or 6 house sparrows, I end up with two pairs of bluebirds and three pairs of tree swallows in those 5 nest boxes.

Remember to attach a predator guard to your pole.
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2020 2:41 pm
Location: Texas
Martin Colony History: None yet...

Thank you for all the information! I have chosen a aluminum 16 compartment house and a 6 gourd rack (will save for later) I had my mom make me a predator guard and we are looking to put the house in our 1/2 an acre backyard. we just moved from the city to the country and thankfully we are near farmland and there is basically no trees, except for small ceaders not close to us. I bought 2 birdhouses like you said, And I am anxiously awaiting spring! :grin:
John Barrow
Posts: 958
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:12 pm
Location: Corpus Christi / Sandia , Texas

Welcome Birdgirlnerd,

Texas is a big state with many diverse regions. It would be helpful to know what area you are in; what town(s) or city you are in or near. You can go to the Research tab on the PMCA main website; look at the Scout Arrival Page, and possibly identify some other landlords nearby and learn for different years when they had their first arrivals. If you use Facebook you can also check in to PMCA's Facebook group which has a lot more activity than the forum. Both are more active during the actual nesting season that is coming to an end for 2020.

Best wishes with your new endeavor. It can be a very rewarding one!

Member/Mentor-PMCA. I do regular nestchecks and participate in PROJECT MARTINWATCH!! Coordinated 3 geolocator studies-2009, 2010 & 2013. State and Fed licensed bander (retired Jan., 2020)
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2020 2:41 pm
Location: Texas
Martin Colony History: None yet...

Thank you! I am in Killeen texas. I'll go check the scout arrival page!
Posts: 3142
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

You might post the make and model or pictures of the housing you plan to put up. Not all housing systems are the same (like everything else in life) and you get what you pay for. If you are serious about maintaining a colony it is better to get a quality housing system from the beginning. Many people have started off cheap only to have to replace it soon after. You don't have to buy the most expensive setup out there but there are some houses that just don't work out well in the long run.
2021 Currently 62 nest 138 babies plus 110 eggs (6-317-21) HOSP count-9
2020 42 nest, Fledged 164 HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional lone SY's
2016 1 pair fledged 4
2015 Visitors
2014 Visitors
2013 Moved 6 miles away, 1 pair fledged 2.
2012 30 pair fledged 100.
2011 12 pair 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair 14 fledged.
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2020 2:41 pm
Location: Texas
Martin Colony History: None yet...

I have 6 s& k gourds and a S & K 16 family barn, which I will convert to 12 compartments. I have bought door plugs and starling resistant entrances.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1939
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit and join.

Hi Birdgirlnerd,
Welcome to the world of purple martins. My suggestion is to read as much info as you can under the quick links section of this website as knowledge is power in the martin hobby.. Best of luck my friend. Sometimes it can take years before a new martin landlord gets their first pair, so relax on the waiting.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
Dave Reynolds
Posts: 1940
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:35 pm
Location: Little Hocking, Oh.
Martin Colony History: 2018 Success at my Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”.
2019 Success at my home Site "Little Hocking, Ohio".

.... Welcome ,,, Birdgirlnerd ... Great to have you here with us... It sounds like you are ready for the upcoming Spring... Ask any questions you like, there are many Landlord here that can help you .. So ... Best of luck and hopping you great success in 2021..

Home Site “Little Hocking, Ohio”
2010 / 2018 -- Lots of Visitors
2019 — 1 Pair, 5 Eggs, 5 Babies, 5 fledged. :wink:
2020 — 1 Pair, 4 Eggs, 4 Babies, 4 fledged. :wink:
2021 — 6 Pair, 23 Eggs, So far. :wink:

Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”
2018 -- 15 Pair, 58 Eggs, 38 Hatched and 36 Fledged :wink:
2019 — 26 Pair, 128 Eggs, 99 Babies and 97 Fledged. :wink:
2020 — 30 Pair, 156 Eggs, 137 Babies and 137 Fledged. :wink:
2021 — 26 Pair, 100 Eggs, So far.. :wink:
PMCA Member
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