Mounting a Purple Martin Birds home is like establishing a small community in your garden. During the summer, glossy-blue males and brown females will chirp from the roofs and peer from the doors in the East. Traditionally, martins in the West have used woodpecker holes as nesting sites.
You may also want to read about Red Birds.
Backyard Tips For Purple Martin Birds
To help the martins break down the exoskeletons of insects, you can provide them with a source of grit in the form of crushed eggshells.
The breeding season is the best time to get a close look at these interesting birds, and if you put up a Purple Martin house in your backyard, you might get just that. Put a guard on the nest to protect the young from harm. Check out All About Birdhouses to learn more about birdhouses and to get instructions on how to construct a home for the Purple Martin.
Purple Martin Birds Facts
Purple Martins, the largest swallows in the United States, are known for their incredible acrobatic abilities in the air. After the breeding season ends, they travel to South America in large groups.
Despite being called “scouts,” the first returning Purple Martins are not scoping out the area to make sure it is safe for the rest of the group. Older martins are coming back to nest in the same places they did before. First-time breeders of martins typically return to the north after a few weeks. Migration patterns in birds often involve the early return of older individuals.
The Purple Martin gets all of its water and food while in the air. It uses its lower bill to skim across the surface of a pond and collect water.
The Purple Martin Conservation Association funds research on the species and maintains a website with related resources. For more details on martins and martin houses, you can also contact the North American Chapter of the Purple Martin Society.
It used to be so common to set up martin houses that John James Audubon picked one as his place to stay. In 1831 he said, “I have noticed that the handsomer the box, the better does the inn generally prove to be.” Martin boxes were common in country inns at the time.
Before Europeans arrived in North America, indigenous people there hung up hollow gourds as Purple Martin homes. The Purple Martin population in eastern North America has shifted to rely almost entirely on man-made birdhouses, while western populations still rely primarily on natural cavities.
Species like the European starling and the house sparrow are notorious for driving the Purple Martins out of urban areas by colonizing all of the martin houses that have been erected by kind citizens.
In late summer, when the chicks have fledged, thousands of Purple Martins gather for a communal roost. They cluster together so tightly that they show up clearly on weather radar. It’s particularly noticeable in the early morning as the birds leave their roosts for the day, and looks like an expanding donut on the radar map.