Best Purple Martin Bird House

The Purple Martin is a beautiful swallow and the largest native swallow to North America at 8 inches long with a wingspan of 15.4-16.1 inches. There are so many reasons to want to have them in your own backyard. In fact, before Europeans arrived, Native Americans used to hang up gourds for the Purple Martin. Here you will find the best Purple Martin bird house options to attract these birds to your yard.

Top 7 Best Purple Martin Bird House Options

BirdInformer BESTSELLER # 1
Birds Choice PMSR12 Starling Resistant Purple Martin House Ceiling Panel for Ventilation, 3-Floor-12 Room, Made of Aluminum
  • 3-floor, 12-room house
  • porch dividers add martin privacy at openings
  • Goes with PMHD12 pole, base plate is included with house
  • All aluminum
SaleBirdInformer BESTSELLER # 2
Cedarnest Purple Martin Deluxe Birdhouse, 12 Separate Compartments, Post Mount Included, 1 Count
  • RESISTANT TO DECAY AND INSECTS - Handmade with Western Red Cedar which is a tough wood and naturally resistant to decay and insects
  • POST MOUNT INCLUDED - The post mount measures 4 inches by 4 inches and comes already attached to this bird house so final installation is a breeze
  • EASY TO CLEAN - Simply remove some screws from the back panels of this bird house and you will have easy access to clean up after your visitors
  • NATURAL COLORS/TEXTURES WILL VARY - The rough surface also enables the birds to hold onto it with their claws
  • DIMENSIONS - House: 22"W x 9"D x 22"H, Nesting Area: 5.25" x 5.5", Hole Entrance: 2.125"
BirdInformer BESTSELLER # 3
Heath Outdoor Products 297194 M-12Dp Deluxe Wood Martin House
  • Constructed Of Plantation-Grown Redwood For Weather Resistance
  • Roof Lifts Off And Room Dividers Lift Out For Easy Cleaning
  • Includes Porch Rails To Prevent Baby Birds From Falling Out Of The House
  • No Assembly Required
BirdInformer BESTSELLER # 4
BestNest S&K 16 Room Purple Martin House Package
52 Reviews
BestNest S&K 16 Room Purple Martin House Package
  • Kit offers all you need to create a lovely martin house
  • Plastic, S&K martin house resembles a barn
  • Included, triangular pole runs through the house for support
  • Included decoys help you attract martins
  • Book offers you thorough martin information
BirdInformer BESTSELLER # 5
BestNest Heath 18-Room Deluxe Purple Martin House with Decoys
  • Aluminum martin house provides shelter for several avian families at once
  • Home has 18 separate apartments for martins to roost
  • Two included, plastic decoys help attract birds to the area
  • Home requires a 1.25" OD pole (not included) for stability and mounting
  • White color and aluminum construction help nestlings remain cool
BirdInformer BESTSELLER # 6
BestNest S&K American Barn Complete Purple Martin House Package
  • Fantastic package for starting a martin colony in your yard
  • Kit includes a house, pole, and decoys
  • Plastic house with 12 apartments provides martins plenty of roosting spots
  • Metal pole with pulley system runs through the house for stability
  • Included decoys invite martins to visit the shelter

What You Need to Know About Purple Martin Bird Houses

Depending on where you live, it might prove more difficult than you think to invite Purple Martins into your yard. Almost all eastern swallows live in birdhouses, but the western swallows prefer to nest in the old-fashioned way: in trees and the like. Luckily, setting up bird houses for these birds is a simple process, but it does mean installing an entire neighborhood in your backyard. The Purple Martin likes to nest together by the thousands, especially during the summertime.

Keep reading for exact instructions on how to attract these beautiful birds to your own back yard, and what you need to know before you go buy or make a bird house for the Purple Martin.

Introduction to the Purple Martin

The Purple Martin can live up to thirteen years, during which time they will fly over 4o miles per hour, travel from North America to South America, and roost with as many as 700,000 others at one time. This is why it is so important to have the right bird house set up. You want to maximize the space in your colony in order to continue to accommodate their growing families.

Contrary to their name, the Purple Martin is not purple. Instead, their dark blue-black plumage offers an iridescent sheen, which may appear different shades of blue, purple, and even green. Males have that signature dark belly that makes them easier to identify as a Purple Martin.

Why attract the Purple Martin?

The Purple Martin is a wonderful bird to have in your backyard. Not only do they eat thousands of mosquitoes each day, but they are also geographically loyal. This means that you will see the same birds year after year on their migration route, and can keep tabs on your bird friends.

Why does the Purple Martin need a bird house?

If you live in the east, it is fair to say that the Purple Martin depends on human-made bird houses. This fact alone is enough reason to build a Purple Martin bird community. The swallows need a safe place to roost, as they are not at the top of the food chain. The European starling and house sparrow are two of the swallow’s worst enemies, as they may even kill the Purple Martin just to have the best nesting site (aka your bird house).

The Purple Martin is also victim to snakes, raccoons, squirrels, feral cats, owls, and hawks. While many predators attack in the open, others are known to invade the Purple Martin nest in the hunt for baby birds and fresh eggs.

What types of bird houses does the Purple Martin prefer?

Since Purple Martins like to roost in colonies, they need a set up where many birds can roost comfortably in a proximate location. There are two options: a single construction that has many compartments for hundreds of birds, and lots of individual homes arranged in a cluster for mating pairs.

Natural gourds are perhaps the most popular type of bird housing for the Purple Martin, as they are the perfect size for the birds, and also aesthetically pleasing.

The birds will be the ultimate judge as to how hospitable your bird houses are. They migrate at different times, depending on their sex and age. The older males migrate first, followed by the older females, and then the other birds. Homes are first-come first-serve.

Where does the Purple Martin bird house need to go?

The Purple Martin looks for several things when picking out a suitable spot for a colony roost:

  • large, open areas to feed
  • human habitation
  • water source

It is best to place the community housing in the middle of an open area that has a radius of about 30 feet from any trees or other structures. The swallows are used to living amongst humans, so it is, in fact, better for the purple martin gourd house to be located within about 120 feet of human civilization. They like to be near humans, just not too close.

Swallows, like any other living creature, need water. If you have a permanent water source like a stream, lake, or pond, locate the housing near it. The birds will check this box off their list. You do not, however, need to have a purple martin bird feeder, as the birds free-range on bugs. That being said, they do need calcium, and you can provide them with crushed (and sterilized) eggshells and gravel to help with their digestion.

The purple martin gourds need to be a certain height of the ground. If there are surrounding trees and/or bushes, the houses should be placed closer to 20 feet in the air. If the area is relatively open, then going as low as 12 feet up would be okay. You need to fashion the purple martin house with a pole, rather than hanging the house from a tree. This is to prevent raccoons, cats, and other tree-climbing creatures away from the bird houses. Additionally, it is very easy to raise and lower the Purple Martin house pole for regular inspection of the homes.

The Purple Martin Bird House Specifications

The Purple Martin is a very particular creature, especially when it comes to its living situation. You need to have a specific type of bird house, located in a certain area, in order to attract the birds to your back yard. Here are the things to look for when buying a bird house for this type of bird. it is important to consider these items when choosing the best purple martin bird house for your yard.

The Purple Martin requires some room in their bird house in order to be comfortable. The main compartment needs to be at least 6″ x 6″ x 12″. Anything smaller than that (even the houses for sale that are 6″ x 6″ x 6″) are way too small. This is because a full clutch of eggs can be up to seven. Anything that restricts the natural development of these birds is unhealthy. It is better to err on the side of luxury rather than constraint, especially if you are a new pitstop along their migration route.

Number of Cavities

Because the Purple Martin likes to nest in colonies, you need to make sure that you have at least four cavities. Even four cavities is a little on the smaller size. If possible, and to really get a good showing, you need to have about six to twelve cavities, especially if you are trying to get a good start.

Construction Materials of the Bird Houses

The bird houses can be made out of many different types of materials, to include aluminum, plastic, wood, and then of course the natural gourds. These are all suitable materials, but the exterior of the house must be white in color. This is because of white’s reflective qualities. White keeps the interior of the house cooler in hot temperatures because white reflects heat.

If not going with the natural gourd, then you have to be a little more careful about the materials used. If choosing wood, you need to pick untreated for the bird house. This is because the chemicals in treated wood can actually harm the birds as they breathe the air around them. Keep in mind that the wood should be about 3/4 of an inch thick. This will provide the best insulation against both hotter and colder temperatures.

If going with plastic housing, then you need to choose plastic that is UV-resistant. Light should also not be able to filter in through the walls. Both plastic and aluminum Purple Martin houses need to have an additional layer of insulation to help with extreme heat and cold.

Types and Dimensions

As briefly mentioned earlier, the dimensions of the home need to be at least 6″ x 6″, and the Purple Martin house height needs to be a foot. The pole needs to be at least 12-20 feet tall above the ground.

The entrance hole also has strict specifications. The Purple Martin house hole size needs to be around 2-1/8″ in diameter, though yours can range in size from 1-3/4″ to 2-1/4″, if necessary. If the hole is round, then it needs to be positioned 1″ to 1-1/2″ above the ground.

If you have a starling-resistant entrance hole, it looks like a semi-circle with the flat part flush against the ground. The entrance needs to be 1-/16 tall and 2-3/4″-3″ wide. If it cannot be place flush on the floor, then it should not be more than 1/4″ above the ground.

If you are going to have a starling-resistance entrance in a gourd, you do not need to have a porch.

Bird House Location and Timing

Believe it or not, there is a specific time for when to put out Purple Martin house. Other birds would love to live in the houses, especially house sparrows and starlings. You can avoid this only by opening the condos at exactly the time that the Purple Martin is looking to settle down.

The best way to figure this information out is to check with the local birder. The expected time of arrival for the Purple Martin varies depending on where you live.


While the Purple Martin might be very picky as to its desired housing, it is for good reason. That being said, once you know what the Purple Martin is looking for, you can easily create a Purple Martin condo in time for the next migration. All you really need is a couple gourds and a pole.

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