The interaction between human beings and Martins goes way back to the Native Americans. To this day, the gurgling song and bubbly personality of the purple Martin is cherished by those who host them. Every spring gives an excitement that only a martin landlord can experience as they anticipate the return of their martin colony.
Attracting a martin colony can either be easy or exasperating depending on your approach. However, by following the tips on what it takes to acquire, maintain, and protect your birds, it should not be long before you acquire a colony of your own. The folks over at wild bird store online are there everyday to help you create your own martin colony. Find them here on Facebook.
1. The Right Place and Time
Choosing the right location to put up a martin house is paramount to attracting martins. The house should generally be placed in the most open place near your own home. The farther the house is from trees, the better. You should try to locate it at least 30 feet from your own house and the same distance from trees or over-hanging limbs.
The first martins to arrive in spring have been labeled as the scouts who are searching for the best breeding sites before the rest of the birds arrive. Martins will always come back to the same place they were in the previous year unless they are attacked by predators or overrun by other bird species. So, the early seen birds are either on their way to their usual spot, or they are simply just the first to arrive. The first scouts normally arrive around the first of February in the southern part of United Sates and some even arriving earlier in the middle of January. The majority of the Martins arrive four to six weeks later into the upper portion of the United States with the latest arrivals two to three weeks after that. All told the spring migration run from early january in the south through late march in the northern US and Canada.
Regardless of your location on the continent, you should keep your house open through to the end of August as this is the time when hatchlings from the previous year look for a breeding place.
2. The Best Housing
The best bird houses for martins are painted white as the birds tend to be attracted to lighter color. The openings of the birdhouse should be resistant to starlings, being no larger than 2 to 1/4 inches in diameter and no smaller than 1 to 3/4 inches. The opening should also be located one inch from the floor of the house.
The optimum size for the nesting boxes is 7 by 12 inches though they can be as small as 6 by 6 inches. If you are buying or making one by yourself, make sure you check these measurements if you want to succeed in attracting a colony.
The nest habits of the martins will, however, differ somehow in the West of the Rockies than in other locations on the continent. The birds tend to nest in single units and in gourds but not in apartment style bird houses as is customary East of the Rockies.
The best housing for martins will ideally provide protection from predators and the elements. That being said, the houses should have guards to keep off creatures such as owls, hawks and snakes. During the winter season, the bird houses should be covered or with the entrance holes sealed as other animals might inhabit the nest before the purple martins arrive next spring.