Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Purple Martins...

As a child I remember how proud my grandfather was of his Purple Martins... Their cheerful antics and conversational chattering to each other are so enjoyable to observe that it's no wonder that people go to great lengths to try to attract this bird. Native Americans set up the tradition of hanging gourds for Purple Martins to use as a nesting cavity and now in the eastern part of North America, they are totally dependent on man-made structures to house their colonies. According to the Purple Martin Conservation Association, over one million North Americans maintain housing for Purple Martins, but only a small percentage actually ever attract these birds to their house.  I guess I'm in the larger percentage...


I've had a Martin house for several years, but never even had a second look.  I have to admit that now I call it simply a "birdhouse" and it's home to Sparrows, Starlings and such...




Now I understand my grandfather's pride that he had for his returning colony of Martins each year.  To attract and maintain theses birds you have to be a good "landlord." There are several steps to follow including:  constructing the house to certain specifications, closing the house up during the winter, opening it back up at precisely the correct time in the spring, removing competing birds' nests, proper location of the house and the list goes on... If you're lucky enough to have an established colony in your Martin house, however, these entertaining birds would make the landlord responsibilities well worth the time and effort.




I took these photos at the gardens of the Springfield Botanical Center where I volunteer.  This house was constructed last year and is maintained by the Greater Ozarks Audubon Society.  This spring it had its first couple arrive and take up residence and hopefully more pairs will join them soon...


For more info on attracting and maintaining Purple Martins, visit the Purple Martin Conservation Association.

For more posts, info and photography of birds, visit Bird Photography Weekly and World Bird Wednesday.


14 comments:

  1. I put up a house several years ago, but have had no luck with Martins. the house has been home to tree swallows which is almost as good. They are very entertaining!

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  2. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your site. Would you mind emailing me back @ carlymiller687@gmail.com

    Thanks,
    Carly

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  3. The white house against the blue sky is very beautiful. It sounds like a lot of trouble to attract the Martins but it would be nice to have them returning each spring.

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  4. Thanks a great essay!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  5. Fascinating. They seem a fussy bird, but very rewarding.

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  6. Lovely images and an interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Very informative post and lovely photos!

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  8. I have 2 martin houses in my field and never had a martin they go to the farm next to me....BUT the bluebirds and flycatchers like the martin Village!
    Great Post!

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  9. Oh, the pain of it!
    I have had miserable luck attracting anything let alone martins to my martin house. It is a fickle business to be sure. About three years ago I had a couple pair of Tree swallows stay for awhile at the same time the Gold finches and Baltimore orioles were in. It was a three ringed circus I'll always remember! We have a few tree swallows in town right now that I would be glad to host. ;-)WBW

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  10. Now that is a beautiful house no matter who uses it. Hopefully yours will soon have some show up.

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  11. I love that birdhouse..looking like a high-rise apartment we have here! Im sure the purple martins will love it too!

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  12. I put up a martin house & also a pole that holds gourds for purple martins,I had 1 purple martin check them out one year,& It was just luck that I saw him as he went on to a place down the road closer to the creek.Maybe someday....I took it down one year to clean it out but haven`t gotten it back up as I need to have help to do that.phyllis

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  13. Quite a responsibility to keep the population going when they are so dependant on human housing.
    Nicely illustrated info.

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  14. I put up a martin house one spring. It attracted 0 martins and in the fall it got caught in a strong wind and slid down the telescoping pole and got stuck. :(
    Oh well, now I have a pair of bluebirds nesting in my bluebird box.

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