Here is a quick look at my Purple Martin Bird House. If you are looking to attract purple martin birds to your property, my suggestion would be to pick up a complete kit. This is the best way to ensure you get everything you need for your project.
My recommendation would be the BestNest S&K 16 Room Purple Martin House Package. It includes the house, pole, decoy birds and even a book to help get you started.
This is the same kit I have and it was fairly easy to install. See below for more photos of my installation.
Best Purple Martin House, Complete kit
The kit above comes with “almost” everything needed to start a Purple Martin colony in your own backyard.
When i say almost, there are a few additional things that I used to finish the overall installation. I will get into these additional things later on.
This kit will include all the important things as listed below.
• (1) Plastic 16 Room Barn, 19.5″L x 18.5″W x 21″ H
• (1) 15 foot Telescoping Aluminum Pole & Ground Socket
• (2) Heath Deluxe Purple Martin Decoys
• (1) Stokes Purple Martin Book
Purple Martin House Installation, Foundation
As mentioned above, this kit will include the majority of items required to do the job. However, there were a few extra items I used to finish my installation.
Anchoring the pole to the ground
It is important to start with a good foundation.
Without a good foundation, the whole pole and house can be blown over in the wind. Not only can this potentially destroy the bird house but it can also cause damage to anything/anyone nearby.
For my foundation. I used a 5-gallon bucket and 2 bags of Quickrete concrete mix (both available at most big hardware stores).
Identify the largest section of the Aluminum Pole as that will be used as the base. Set this section of tubing into the bucket and get ready to add the concrete mix.
Adding Concrete Mix to the bucket
With the pole in the bucket. Follow the directions on the bag and pour in the concrete mix and a small amount of water. Don’t try and dump the whole bag in at once as this will make it hard to mix. To fill the 5 gallon bucket it should take a bit less then two full bags.
TIP: Use a level to ensure the pole is as straight as possible before the mixture hardens
Once the concrete is hardened (usually let it sit for 24 hours). You can now dig your hole and drop in the bucket/pole assembly. Check once more with your level to make sure everything is nice and straight before filling in the dirt. Small field stones can be kicked into the ground around the bucket for extra support.
Alternate Installation (no bucket method) Video
Here is a shot video of an installation where they dug the hole and mixed in the concrete without using a bucket as a form. For areas that don’t get heavy winds, this would be a quick and easy method.
Purple Martin House Installation, Pole fix
Now that we have a stable foundation using a bucket of concrete. The next upgrade I did was add a Stainless Steel bolt and nylon lock-nut to assemble the pole sections. This is much more secure than the plastic clips provided with the kit and easy to do. See the photo below for reference.
Just use a drill with drill bit close in size to the original hole. Run the bit all the way through metal and insert the Stainless Steel bolt.
Stainless steel is an excellent choice for outdoor installations as it does not rust easily. This bolt above has been in service for roughly 3-years and still not a spot of rust to be found.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the best place to locate a Purple Martin bird house?
According to the website www.purplemartin.com, The best place to locate your new bird house is in the middle of a wide open area. Try and keep it at least 40-60 feet away from trees if possible.
How high does a Purple Martin house need to be?
The recommended height of the house should be between 10-20ft off of the ground. If you are in an area with alot of wind, be sure to anchor your base deep enough into the ground to prevent it from falling over.
What time of the year do Purple Martins Arrive?
Depending on your location, the date of when the Purple Martins return can vary greatly. For example, southern regions of the US like Florida can expect to see scouts as early as mid-January.
Areas further North like New York will have to wait until mid-April/May.
What do Purple Martins Eat?
Purple Martins feed on flying insects like beetles, flies, moths, butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers and flying fire ants. Once common misconception is the claim that they “eat 2,000 mosquitoes a day”. Now, while they will gobble up the occasional mosquito while flying through the air. It has been studied that mosquitoes only make up roughly 2% of their diet.
According to a 3 year study conducted by the PMCA in Edinboro, PA. Researches studied 350 diet samples taken from the beaks of parent martins while feeding their young. Over the course of this study they found (or rather did not) find a single mosquito from all of these samples. How can that be you ask?
One of the reasons for this is the location where the majority of mosquitoes hang out (lower to the ground at night) vs the location of where the martins hunt (higher off the ground at night). So, while they will pick up a few mosquitoes here and there it appears they are not actively hunting them as previous claims have suggested.
And there you have it!
Thanks for sticking around and reading through this article. Hopefully it was helpful and gives you a few ideas on what to expect with your own installation. If you have any questions regrading my installation, please leave a comment below and I would be happy to answer them.
Finding a Purple Martin House for sale.
These Purple Martin kits can be hard to find in-stores and tend to sell out fast come Spring. If you are considering buying a kit for your property check out the link below.