How To Attract Purple Martins To Your Yard

November 26, 2021 // 8 minute read

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It can be difficult to attract purple martins to your yard. However, following the steps in this article will help you bring more of these birds to your home so you can feed and watch them.

The purple martin is a beautiful, but elusive bird. They’re not easy to find and if you do, they will fly away as soon as they detect that they are being watched.

This may be due to the fact that there are fewer than 10 million of them in North America today. The main way to attract purple martins to your yard is to create an area that resembles their native environment.

Below, we’ll discuss all of the ways you can successfully attract purple martins to your yard.

Tips For Attracting Purple Martins To Your Yard

Avoid Using Insecticides

Insecticides kill insects that provide food for purple martins. This makes attracting them to your yard difficult. You want your backyard to naturally attract flying insects which makes your nesting sites more attractive.

Keep Your Grass Short

Short grass is preferred by purple martins because it allows insects that they eat to be more visible on the surface of the ground.

This also reduces the amount of vegetation around nesting areas, which increases visibility and decreases attack rates from ground predators like raccoons, snakes, as well as birds (including other purple martins).

Build a Purple Martin House

If you already have a birdhouse, then just build more martin houses on your property so the birds can spread out and claim their own territory. They will also work to repel other species from nesting in these areas as well.

And, install your martin housing colony on birdhouse poles to get them up off the ground and away from ground predators. This also applies to gourd houses as well which are great to attract martins as well. Finally, keep in mind that purple martins prefer large social environments and colonies.

So, the more gourd houses you add, the higher likelihood that you will encourage large colonies to start!

Keep Cats Inside

Cats are predators of large numbers of purple martin nests each year, reducing reproduction rates significantly. So make sure all cats stay indoors or contained in an outdoor run at night when they’re most active hunting prey.

Create Suitable Habitat

The best way to attract more purple martins is by creating suitable habitat around your home with native plants that produce berries and seed pods which form the bulk of their diet and open spaces.

This will ensure that they can find enough food (via bird feeders) and water to survive, no matter how much your backyard birds eat (assuming you’re feeding them as well).

You should also add a water feature such as a birdbath, retention pond, or small pond for drinking water in the summer months when mosquitoes breed rapidly and provide another source of food for purple martins through aquatic insects like dragonflies, damselflies, and other invertebrates which emerge from the water at night.

Another point to note – martins prefer open areas vs large trees.

Add Shelter With Purple Martin Houses

Adding shelter is beneficial because it creates an area where purple martins can escape predation by hawks and falcons.

This helps increase survival rates tremendously over time since predators are responsible for killing up to 30% of nests annually during breeding seasons in some areas.

Looking for options or help in deciding what is the best purple martin birdhouse for your yard?

Check out our 2022 line up of our favorite martin houses by clicking the button below. 

Provide Suitable Perches

Suitable perches are necessary for purple martins to build nests, rest during the day, and escape from predators more easily by quickly fleeing into foliage instead of flying away.

Sturdy branches that can hold a house or suet feeder with ease typically work best as they allow birds to land on them without breaking their legs due to weak structures (which is common in wooden dowels). Use PVC piping if you need non-wood materials.

Include Water Sources

Water sources should be available since purple martins drink water daily before eating insects at night when it’s cool enough for them to survive but too dark for predators like hawks and falcons to see.

Check out our comprehensive reviews of the best backyard bird baths, perfect for providing water sources for Purple Martins!

Get Rid of Neighboring Sparrows

Since house sparrows compete with purple martins for nesting spaces, they should be removed from your yard as soon as possible.

This can be done either by getting rid of their nests completely or adding a baffle to prevent them from landing on birdhouses and other areas where you want purple martins to nest instead.

Another option is putting out traps that capture house sparrows so they don’t have access to food sources anymore (they won’t die since you’ll release them elsewhere).

Sparrows are also susceptible to the West Nile Virus, which makes this even more important than usual if there’s an outbreak in your area.

Create a Pond in Your Yard

Building a pond in your yard is the best way to attract purple martins since they require an ample supply of water for drinking and bathing.

Ponds also create another food source because of aquatic insects like:

  • Dragonflies
  • Damselflies
  • Mayfly nymphs (called shucks)
  • Caddisfly larvae (known as case makers)
  • Beetles
  • Mosquito larvae
  • Snails
  • Tadpoles
  • Leeches or other invertebrates

Use Dark-Colored Decoy Birds

To attract purple martins, you can use purple martin decoys to make your backyard seem more welcoming.

This will help them choose it over other locations where they may want to nest and reproduce instead (like a neighbor’s yard or park).

It also helps if the fake bird is darker in color than others since this triggers aggressive behavior from real purple martins who don’t like sharing their territory with new neighbors.

Bright colors usually deter predators so lighter colors should be used for that purpose only.

Don’t Use Migrating Birds as Decoys

Migrating purple martins are usually seen in spring only, so they cannot be used as decoys since they won’t attract birds during the summer months.

If you want to choose migrating ones, then they should have their tail feathers removed first or the real birds will not approach the fake one because of this difference.

Never Use Predatory Bird Decoys

Using predatory bird decoys like hawks and falcons is a bad idea since purple martins will avoid areas where they see these figures.

This can be avoided by adding one side to the fake birds that are lighter in color (not dark) so it won’t scare off potential nesting pairs looking for a place to stay.

Use Suet

Suet is another good way to feed purple martins when mixed with mealworms, which are used as an ingredient because of their high protein content and low-fat levels compared to other insects such as beetles or grasshoppers.

It also provides carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids/proteins & fatty acids.

Monitor the Weather Conditions & Climate in Your Area

Purple martins will not be able to survive the cold since they are tropical birds.

This means that you should check local weather conditions and forecasts before planning any activities with them (like putting up houses or feeders).

Also monitor your region’s climate (precipitation levels, humidity & temperature) as it may increase or decrease their population size in certain areas due to migration patterns changing over time compared to previous years.

Use Sunflower Seeds and Eggshells for Food

Sunflower seeds are the most popular type of seed for purple martins to eat since they provide lots of fat, protein & energy (for flying and other activities).

When eggshells are crushed into small pieces, it also becomes an additional food source that contains calcium since purple martins like to eat finely crushed eggshells.

Remember That Purple Martins Prefer Shiny Objects

Putting up shiny objects like CDs or aluminum foil near your feeders is another good way to attract them because it mimics sunlight reflecting off water bodies.  

This helps make their nests more visible so predators can’t see them as easily during the breeding season.  

Don’t Use Birdhouses with Openings Under Four Inches Wide

Purple martins are the only type of swallows that can enter holes with wider openings since they need to be at least four inches wide in order for them to fit their bodies.

They use mud nests made from chewed-up plants, which are mixed with saliva and then molded into place using more spit on top of it before it dries out.

This helps prevent predators like snakes or raccoons from reaching their eggs while they’re still being incubated inside their nests so placing houses near trees will help keep this type of activity away too.

Play Recordings of Purple Martin Songs

Another way to attract purple martins is by playing recordings of their songs since this helps get them excited about finding new neighbors in the area.

This may not work for all species, but it’s worth a shot if you want to be more interactive with your visitors too (if they’re interested).

Attract More Purple Martins to Your Yard Today

As you can see, it’s not too difficult to attract a whole colony of purple martins to your yard. By recreating their native environment, providing food, and water to this bird species, you can bring more of these beautiful birds to your home.

While you’ll need to keep their predators at bay, attracting more purple martins to your yard has more benefits than drawbacks.

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