Cheap Plastic House- My Soap Box Rant.

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
Posts: 386
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:11 pm
Location: Denham Springs, La
Martin Colony History: 2014 1 pair 3 hatched 3 fledged
2015 1 pair 5 hatched 5 fledged
2016 1 pair 5 hatched 4 fledged
2017 2 pair 8 hatched 8 fledged
2018 4 pair 15 hatched

I too have a S&K green and tan house. I have medal and a house made out of PVC. My first pair (last year) went to the S&K. It looks cheap and flimsy but holds up great. I still have the other houses up and gourds under every house, to give the Martins choice. Let them rent out any house the want :grin: just so they stay :wink:
Posts: 2166
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

I started with the S&K red barn on a stationary pole. Hated climbing up a 17 foot ladder to do nest checks or put chicks back. Changed to a telescoping pole. I added 2 more S&K barns over the years. I used them for many years & they held up well. I agree the "attic rooms" were hard to do nest checks & clean out. I ended up using long kitchen tongs & a flashlight. I loved the balconies, as you could see the chicks come out & move back & forth. The perches on the bottom level often broke or wouldn't stay in place. I wrapped the perchs, where they clipped in on the under side, with black electrical tape & they held better.

Due to health reasons I had to change/upgrade my houses to ones more easly for me to deal with. I now have 2 plastic T-10 houses/balconies & railings, plastic slide out trays, on poles with winches. I added 2 vents per room on each house. I made covers for the houses & just lower/cover them for winter. My colony seems to like these houses much better than the S&K barns I had. I do miss being able to watch the chicks playing on the long balconies the S&K houses have.

I do think for a beginner trying to attrack a colony the S&K barns are a good starting house (close off the attic rooms). However once you get a colony & it starts to grow I do suggest you upgrade to a T-10/T-14 or a gourd system.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
jr 2
Posts: 749
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 3:20 pm
Location: ohio,proctorville(just across ohio river from huntington,west virginia)

I now have 3 s&k[royal wing] plastic houses with 1 of them being double[4 floors]; i have expanded compartments[6] and added 2 s&k tunnels too each end of houses leaving one original entrance on each side with a raised porch and 3m tread tape;;i repainted the houses and roofs white and added i/2 foam insulation in attic when i put them togeather;;;got small aluminum overhang houses vents from hardware and put on attic [ pop riviot]entrances; you cut them to the right sizel;have 2 s&k bo11p gourds with tunnels hanging under each house;the martins love the tunnels;;i have all cresent and clinger tunnels;;i will have room for 50 pair this year with my 4 trio houses and that is my goal as i live in a neighborhood where houses are close;;wishing everyone a great martin year;;;jr2
PMCA member; s 2011 2 pair fledged 3; 2012 3 asy pair,4 sy pair,2013 8 asy pair,6 sy pair;2014 19 asy pair,2 sy pair
Conrad Baker
Posts: 416
Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2007 7:43 pm
Location: Paulina, Louisiana

Deleted by Conrad
Last edited by Conrad Baker on Sun Mar 28, 2021 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Posts: 165
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:19 pm
Location: Wisconsin/Montello

I also have the popular S&K barn that everyone is referring to. During my first year as a landlord, my very first martin pair ignored my expensive T14 and took up residence in my $50 plastic barn. I joke about this to this day, but I love my martin barn and still use it every year, along with a more expensive T14 and round gourd rack. I have some Bo-11's and a few Troyer gourds hanging under this house and they are occupied as we'll. I agree with everyone about blocking the attic entrances so that martins don't nest in that area. S&K has not developed a way to open the attic to do nest checks. This year, I am replacing the original barn with the S&K American barn because it can be raised and lowered with a winch system using their 1.9 inch 16 gauge galvanized steel pole. This martin barn comes with enlarged 6x10 compartments and built-in nest bowls. S&K is making some good improvements in their product line while keeping costs down. I have a friend who has 25 pair of martins in gourd racks and swears that my martin barn is junk and will fall apart in due time. But, I am keeping my S&K American barn because it is light weight, it looks nice and attracts martins!!
Last edited by BIOteacher012 on Fri Jan 30, 2015 10:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
2017 38 nesting pairs, 181 fledged
2016 22 nesting pairs, 113 fledged
2015 20 nesting pairs, 91 fledged
2014 10 nesting pairs, 49 fledged
2013 4 nesting pairs, 15 fledged
2012 Lots of lookers but no nesters
Anthony Neira
Posts: 1317
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:12 pm
Location: San Antonio /Texas
Martin Colony History: Started in 1992 From neighbors old 1950-60's colonies. Have 8 Trio 6 Room Houses, 4 MPP Poles, 1 Heath Deluxe Gourd with Troyer Porch, 8 NatureLine Gourds with Troyer Porches, 5 Troyer Horizontals ,& 2 S&K 11" WITH Troyer Porches ready for 2019 Season !

Again , GOOD ! For ALL you guys! There's a working pattern here and the Martins benefit from it, Kinda like your own Club! :grin: I would have started with one/ them if that's what my friend had given me as my first couple of houses. Instead, Trios fell into my lap! & the rest is.... Good luck again, & keep enlarging those rooms, blocking/ venting that attic,..painting white.. :grin:
PMCA Member, 8 Trio 6 Room Houses, 1 Heath Deluxe Gourd with Troyer Porch, 8 NatureLine Gourds with Troyer Porches, 5 Troyer Horizontals + Tunnels, & 2 S&K Bo 11"s WITH Troyer Porches ! 4 MPPs, For 2019 Season !! :grin: Started in 1992 from Older '50-'60s Colonies.
Unk Bond
Posts: 287
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2021 4:35 pm
Location: Ohio
Martin Colony History: I have had 5

I have had 5 years of enjoying my martin bird colony.


Hello All
A very interesting read. But picture wold have been nice. Later
Posts: 314
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

Mr. Bond,

This is the s&k barn.
72BF3574-D400-49B0-86A0-5D372EF45C93.jpeg (43.24 KiB) Viewed 2823 times
Unk Bond
Posts: 287
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2021 4:35 pm
Location: Ohio
Martin Colony History: I have had 5

I have had 5 years of enjoying my martin bird colony.


SSMartin wrote:
Sun Mar 21, 2021 8:08 pm
Mr. Bond,

This is the s&k barn.
Thanks SSMartin
I am thinking 2 could be mounted simpler to the way we hang 2 big T 14 houses.
Saw a barn that had 12 in-trey cut outs. With 2 you would have 24 ..10 more than a fourT14 houses
That's why I posted. How well Martins get along with close neighbors [ Later
Posts: 213
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:58 am
Location: Awesome Florida
Martin Colony History: Newbie in 2020: 2 pair of SY with 4 eggs each in Troyer Horizontals
fledged a total of 7 Martins

I have a 16 cav red barn my neighbor gave me. It has the tri pole. It housed mostly sparrow
for the neighbor, set it up in my yard they followed. I started to thin out the herd last year,
still have work to do, but this fall I plan a remodel on the barn. Starlings do enter it and
create havock. My Martins land on it and bother sparrow and starling when they decide
to visit the Martins looking for trouble. No sparrow or starlings fledged the barn last year.
Only 2 cavs still open this spring.
Posts: 1143
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- didnt know anything about martins, put up an all wrong house in 2016 and had two come by and inspect all the cavities. Left soon after not to return. Learned what i could on PMCA made adjustments and next year was successful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
Home colony: mix natural gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satelite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 gourds: PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mino castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
PMCA member

This is a good topic, martins will accept a well placed and well maintained house. Some minor adjustments here and there and are good to go. Lord knows iv made adjustments on our house, every year I say its time to retire it and every year it goes up and gets filled with martins.

Anthony and Taxidermy lady, really very glad to "see" you!
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
Posts: 314
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

The issue with this model barn is the crescent openings are to far up from the porch. Starlings can enter these. Need to put a block or something to raise the floor outside level with the opening to prevent starlings. S&k newer houses you can see they added wing entrapment and eliminated the porches on some models.
Conrad Baker
Posts: 416
Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2007 7:43 pm
Location: Paulina, Louisiana

When I moved here from New Orleans, we built this house on an empty lot, so we had to put up new housing for the PM's. I had 1 Heath (metal octagon shape), 1 S&K Red Barn, and 4 smaller S&K green & tan houses. That was in 2006, and the Heath house is gone (couldn't control Hosp or EUS) and was too hard to do nest checks (no access to compartments). Now all I have left are the S&K houses. The attic compartments in the barn have had screen glued over the opening to prevent anything but fresh air from getting in. The compartments on all S&K houses have been enlarged to allow more room for the birds to spread out. They are on the Tri-tel poles. All of the houses are still in great shape. I take them down after the season, clean them, then put them in the attic for storage.
The birds love them, and they are still strong and sturdy. If I had to replace them, I would do so with another S&K house. Over the years, I have contacted S&K customer service for one reason or another, and have received excellent customer service every single time. They might not be as durable as the more expensive housing, but they have far outlasted my expectations of time, and as stated earlier, I still use them.
Posts: 1303
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 3:10 pm
Location: Louisiana/Broussard
Martin Colony History: 2010-2014 located in Slidell LA. Gourd rack with 16 gourds. Max of 2 pairs during this short period in Slidell. Plenty of fledglings.

2014-present.. moved to Broussard LA. Same Gourd Rack but added a 6 room house (modified from a 12 room)

2020: after a long drought of nothing, 4 pairs and 4 nests, 23 eggs total (May2020)

Yep I have the SK barn... blocked the attic openings and modified it to make the large cavities. Martins love it. I hung it from an arm of my gourd rack and it worked like a charm after about 4 seasons of no martins at a new location. My first two pairs last year picked the house over gourds. LoL

I have SK gourds as well. They've lasted many years. I've-had to replace the screw caps and a couple of tunnels, but overall the gourds are going strong.
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2020 9:40 am
Location: Central Ga

I have the green/tan house. My birds went straight to it this year instead of the gourds I added below it.

Nothing wrong with these houses, just the folks that frown upon them. Dont understand why people get grief from others for using these houses. They work and the more housing for purple martins the better. Nothing gets someone out of a hobby quicker than folks taking the fun out of it with their bashing of others choices.
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