The purple martin is a beautiful little bird that's native to North America. This friendly species needs help from caring people, as purple martins are under considerable pressure from introduced bird species such as the sparrow. Many people raise martin houses to attract the birds, but it requires patience to attract martins to your home in the city. Martin enthusiasts need to understand the habits of these interesting little birds, which need suitable housing if they are to stay in your backyard. These birds delight for multiple reasons: They enjoy the presence of people, fill the air with their singing and feed on insect pests.
Choose a roosting site that is not close to trees or shrubs. Martins are instinctively wary of foliage, as it might harbor predators.2
Look for a nesting or roosting site that offers as much air space around it as possible. Purple martins enjoy flying and require open spaces to do so. Martins enjoy floating on air thermals and typically feed on flying insects when they do.3
Ensure that your roosting site is the same distance away from a building or tree as the building or tree is tall. Martins swoop down toward their nesting sites; positioning your site the correct distance from tall structures is important when attracting martins to your garden, particularly when you are living in a city.4
Erect the nesting site between 60 and 100 feet from your home. Martins are imprinted on having people close by, particularly when they are nesting. These little birds consider the proximity of people the perfect safeguard against predators.5
Ensure that water is available within 1/2 mile of the nest site. Martins do not drink from standard bird baths, so they will need a tiny stream or natural pond.6
Hang six to 10 gourds close to each other and between 10 and 20 feet above the ground, as purple martins prefer to gather in colonies.7
Visit the nesting site often and make sure it is well-maintained. Martins depend on people to provide and maintain their nest sites.8
Look out for predators, such as starlings and swallows, and chase them from the area. Martins have become dependent on people to keep predators away from their nest sites.9
Clean the gourds after the martins have raised their young, and make any repairs necessary for the next breeding season.