PMS,NA is currently revising its Sales Section. In
this process, not all iformation may be current at the
time you are contemplating a purchase. When calling
us to discuss your order, please confirm prices and specifications
as some of these may have changed.
PURPLE MARTIN HOUSE
Correct PM House
attracting martins to your backyard
and failing to do so.
nestlings in a mailbox house at
Tom Dellinger's Colony (Duncanville, TX)
the old days, martin houses were all made of
wood and placed either on stationary poles or
poles which tilted or pivoted. And just as PM
housing has changed from the days of yore, so
also has the management of Purple Martin colonies
and the martin house poles. Today, PM landlords
with outdated tilting and pivoting poles would
have to use ladders in order to routinely nestcheck
that today's martin management requires. These
types of poles are old thinking and should be
replaced and/or updated with poles which are
indicative of a more modern martin thinking.
PM Elevators could be a economical compromising
modification on such poles. With these older
poles, they were only useful in yearend cleanouts
in days when the numbers of House Sparrows and
European Starlings were not the copious numbers
we know today. If we were not better informed,
we would unwittingly dump the contents of the
martin house, nests, eggs and nestlings, from
the house with grievous results by tilting, or
pivoting such martin poles in our regular nestchecking
of the martins' nests.
Zook PM Elevator is a design by Isaac Zook of
Zook PM Elevator is a modification you can
make that will enable a formerly stationary
PM house to move up and down a wooden pole
on a platform using a winch system. The plans
are available by request in writing (Please
include a stamped, self-address envelope) to:
Purple Martin Society, NA
21250 South Redwood Lane
Shorewood, IL 60431
TYPES OF POLE SYSTEMS
we use one of three types raising systems on
martin poles: pulley system, winching system
or telescoping system.
these, the winching system is the easiest and
it can be locked. The pulley lanyard system is
also good. And while the telescoping pole system
does vertically raise and lower martin houses
for nestchecking, it is, sometimes, more difficult
to push up. Both the telescoping pole and the
house must be marked so that the houses can be
pushed, or raised, in the exact compass direction
from which it was lowered. Its difficulty arises
from the weight of the house and birds, etc,
and its subsequent heavier and more difficult
raising. Many older landlords, and some women,
find it difficult to raise, therefore, the landlords
may not perform some needed actions in regular
while there are fewer wooden martin houses, the
numbers of metal housing has increased. Contrary
to popular belief today. This does not mean that
the metal houses are better than wooden ones.
It is more a change in popularity of materials.
Many metal martin houses are commercially available,
but there are many clever individuals who have
either recycled aluminum siding from human housing
or purchased newer aluminum sheeting and made
their own housing from this metal. Both metal
and aluminum housing have their advantages and
their disadvantages. Wooden housing, while providing
a sturdier and more insulated martin house can
be unwieldy and maintenance demanding. Aluminum
housing, on the other hand, is light weight but
can be very unwelcoming in cold spring temperatures
and horribly hot in oppressive summer heat for
entrance holes are 2" in diameter, give
or take 1/4". Better holes for martins are
really the ones that they just fit into, therefore
helping to exclude competitors. Purple Martins
can fit into holes as small as 1 3/4". They
should be placed 1" above the porch floor.
porches? They can either have porches or no porches.
Traditional cavities of martins in old tree snags
did not have porches, but there are many landlords
who feel that porches keep young nestlings from
falling off martin houses, but these are personal
opinions and is not scientifically documented
anywhere to my knowledge. Consider that no porches
will keep nestlings inside their compartment
and prevent them from falling, or knocked off,
and many times, become doomed, by bachelor males
from an open porch until they fledge. .
houses with contiguous porches, Porch Dividers
(PDs) should be installed on the martin houses.
PDs, which are privacy dividers between nesting
compartments, are designed to prevent "Male
Porch Domination" behavior by older males.
Males demonstrating this behavior will aggressively
defend units on one or both sides of their chosen
compartments, along the porch. On some houses,
the porches are contiguous all the way around
the house. PDs also protect young nestlings who
venture from their natal compartments before
they fledge from the house. The PDs keep the
nestlings in their own area preventing them from
commandeering food from even younger nestlings.
PDs prevent young nestlings also from getting
lost on the porch, unable to find their way back
to their natal compartments. It is a fact that
houses which have PDs have a higher residency
rate than those which do not. Typical residency
rate of martin houses is 50-65%. Houses with
PDs have a residency rate of 75-100% martins.
With PDs, males cannot defend what (other compartments)
they cannot see.
compartments should be integrated into all homemade
martin housing. Traditional compartments sizes
are 6x6x6. In today's martin thinking, compartments
which are 6x6x9 are better and those which are
6x6x12 are best for the martins. The larger compartments
are better for the martins because martins can
nest in the farthest reaches of the martin houses,
away from the paw, claw and talons of the martins'
CLIMBING PREDATOR GUARDS
we place martin houses in the most open area
of our backyard habitats, we are making them
sitting ducks for all of their enemies. It is
akin to providing a birdie smorgasbord for raccoons,
opossums, squirrels, chipmunks, cats (both feral
and free ranging), rats, snakes, and Horned and
Barred Owls. One successful predation attempt
by any of these predators can, and usually does,
mean that your martin season is over, not only
for the current season, but for the future. Surviving
birds go elsewhere in future seasons. Martins
are rapidly becoming more and more "uncommon
songbirds." Typically, it takes much patience
and work to successfully attract martins today.
By providing our martins with enlarged compartments,
we are helping to protect them from Horned and
Barred Owls, however, we should also provide
a ground climbing predator barrier to keep the
remaining enemies from accessing the martin house
and its valued contents. By providing a martin
house, there is an accompanying responsibility
to protect them so that they do not become easy
meals for their enemies.
perching can be added to martin housing and in
many area of the country with underground utilities,
it is advised. Martins like to perch on old tree
snags, TV antennas, and utility lines. If there
are none of these in your area, you should try
to provide either an old TV antenna or extra
perches attached to the martin house or pole.
On my houses, I have added (4) 4 foot bean poles
which are available at local hardware stores.
They cost about $2/each. I have attached them
to the underneath of the porch floors on Trio
TG-12 houses providing an additional 8 more feet
of perching space in addition to the roof perch.
RESISTANT ENTRANCE HOLES
those who have established martin colonies, you
should include "starling resistant" holes
on your next house. These are half moon type
entrances which are placed 1/2" above the
porch floor. Before attempting these, you should
be well informed on the exact measurements for
these entrance holes as one difference one way
or another could permit the entrance of the dreaded "needlebeak," the
starling. I can help you with this. ** make
your house adaptable to these types of doors
for your second season usage as new martins may
be leery of the new type openings. Typically,
after one season where the martins are bonded
to your house and colony site, they will go through
these new openings easily.
COLOR SHOULD BE WHITE
martin houses should be painted white. After
all these many years, the birds are imprinted
on white nestboxes and gourds. Houses can be
erected from 10-15 ft above the ground. They
should also be places "within" 100
feet of human dwellings and 40 ft from trees.
No vines, shrubs, fences or wires should be near
the martin houses. These only contribute to the
deaths of colonies of martins. Martins houses
can be placed closed to one another.
are many PM house plans available through DNR,
other state conservation departments and birdhouse
books, but many, if not all, are not houses that
are correct for today's Purple Martin interest.
you are interested in successfully attracting
Purple Martins and want to build a better wooden
house for Purple Martins,The Purple Martin Society,
NA offers plans for one, the Troyer-14 (T-14),
a design by Andrew M. Troyer.
plans are available for $10.00 plus $4.00 ship/hand.
send check or money order to:
Purple Martin Society, NA
21250 South Redwood Lane
Shorewood, IL 60431
WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND!
are new again and are very popular now in the
martin interest. Today, we use 8-12 inch bottle
gourds, easily grown in backyards with proper
information. They are treated with either copper
sulfate or commercial water sealer (Thompsons
Water Seal) to last longer. They are painted
white to reflect heat. In the Purple Martin interest,
we also cut 4" access holes in the rear
with a special Rubbermaid jar or lightweight
PVC access doors. In this way, we can easily
nestcheck our martins in season and clean the
nests out in the Fall. With these special access
holes (not the birds usual entrance hole!), gourds
are now more like bird houses.
those of you who have seen pictures of
English House sparrow nesting materials
burgeoning out of martin gourds, please
know that anyone who would allow their
martin gourds to become congested and blocked
with sparrow nesting materials would probably
allow that to happen to their martin houses
advantages of gourds is that they are
not typically preferred by starlings and sparrows
because they swing. Martins do not mind the gourd
swing. They are roomier for the martins. The
martins love them. They are more insulated due
to the thick gourd skin. They are inexpensive
to buy and can be easily grown. With proper care,
the natural gourds will last a long time.
gourds should be stationary to prevent owls from
tipping them and dumping the eggs and/or young.
However, if starlings are a real problem for
you, provide that that the gourds only swing
in one direction, from front to back or from
side to side. They must never swing in a 360° circle.
# # #