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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Purple Martins actually need people

Purple Martins depend almost entirely on humans for housing. If you put out appropriate accommodations they may just settle in at your place.

Their criteria for nesting sites are usually near some water (or some other source of insects), and plenty of safe, clean housing. The birds also need on open area (meadow?) around the nest with a 40 ft. radius circle - no big trees.

In Texas, white is by far the best color for a house.  They’re typically aluminum, and look like little apartments with round doors.  The dimensions of the holes, and the “apartment” itself, are crucial in deterring predators. For heaven’s sake, don’t buy what’s alleged to be a Martin House without a proper pole – one that is stable and raises/lowers the house without calling for ladders or cranes. An appropriate pole is almost impossible to buy by itself.

If you’re thinking about becoming a Martin landlord, remember that there’s some maintenance involved. Houses need to be cleared of old nests at least yearly, and you’ll need to monitor it so other birds don’t take over.

Last year over a million families put up Martin houses. Here, it’s best done iun the spring. Also, several neighborhoods and communities in north Texas have become Purple Martin landlords. They depend on us!


OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton.

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