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Product Reviews: Purple Martin Houses

There are many important factors to consider before purchasing a martin house. The main considerations in selecting the right martin housing are:
  • Appearance
  • Cost
  • Construction
  • Accessibility for cleaning and nest checks
  • Protection from nesting competitors (ie starlings)
  • Average occupancy rates
  • Protection from winged predators
  • Expandability
The importance a martin landlord places on each of the above factors will determine the best martin house to own. We've composed a very detailed comparison of the different purple martin houses we offer. Our reviews are as follows:


Coates Aluminum Purple Martin Mansion
Construction: Aluminum. Assembly required. Average assembly time is 1-3 hours. White or reflective surfaces. Well ventilated.
Pole System: Martin house sits atop a 1.25” OD or 1 5/8 ID pole. Pole attaches to aluminum base plate included with house. Designed to be raised and lowered using a telescopic pole. Recommended poles: Coates Medium Duty Pole for 3 story houses; Coates Heavy Duty Pole for larger houses or particularly windy environments. Pole height above ground when installed is approximately 12 feet.
Access to House: Medium difficulty. The house is aluminum and relatively light, so it is generally not difficult to raise and lower the pole sections on a telescopic pole to gain access to the house.
Access for Cleaning and Nest Checks: Easy. Front of each apartment level may be opened without tools (ie two side-by-side apartments open at once).
Starling Resistance: Optional. House may be purchased with original round openings or SREH (starling resistant entrance holes).
Occupancy Rates: 50%-70% average. Apartments are not offset but porch dividers are in place.
Protection from Predators: Available. Predator guard kits may be purchased separately (about $23). Without predator guard kit, house offers no protection from winged predators.
Door Stops: Included for 2” round holes only. Suggestion for SREH: may use clothespins to block entrances.
Apartment Size: 6” x 6” x 6”, 2” round entrance holes or crescent SREH.
Units: 12-16 Apartments.
Expandability: Additional floor may be added up to a total of 4 floors (recommended maximum).
Comments: This house in an excellent house in its price range. The average martin landlord can raise and lower the house with medium difficulty. Apartments are easily cleaned or checked. For older landlords or children who would be conducting nest checks, we would recommend a system that allows the house to be raised and lowered with a rope system or winch system. May wish to purchase a ground socket for pole. Presently, the Coates houses are the only houses in this price range that offer starling resistant entrance holes.


Coates Aluminum WatersEdge Purple Martin Suites
Construction: Aluminum. Assembly required. Average assembly time is 1-3 hours. White or reflective surfaces. Well ventilated.
Pole System: Martin house sits atop a 1.25” OD or 1 5/8 ID pole. Pole attaches to aluminum base plate included with house. Designed to be raised and lowered using a telescopic pole. Recommended poles: Coates Medium Duty Pole for 3 story houses; Coates Heavy Duty Pole for larger houses or particularly windy environments. Pole height above ground when installed is approximately 12 feet.
Access to House: Medium difficulty. The house is aluminum and relatively light, so it is generally not difficult to raise and lower the pole sections on a telescopic pole to gain access to the house.
Access for Cleaning and Nest Checks: Easy. Door to each apartment may be opened without tools.
Starling Resistance: Yes. Crescent SREH included.
Occupancy Rates: 70%-90% average. Offset apartment openings increase occupancy.
Protection from Predators: Yes. Typically martins will nest in back room of suite. Winged predators cannot reach martins from entrance hole. Predator guard kits generally not required for protection.
Door Stops: None. Suggestion: may use clothespins to block entrances.
Apartment Size: Each suite contains two 6” x 6” x 6” adjacent rooms, 1 entrance per suite, crescent SREH.
Units: 6-8 suites.
Expandability: Additional floor may be added up to a total of 4 floors (recommended maximum).
Comments: This house in an excellent house in its price range. The average martin landlord can raise and lower the house with medium difficulty. Apartments are easily cleaned or checked. For older landlords or children who would be conducting nest checks, we would recommend a system that allows the house to be raised and lowered with a rope system or winch system. May wish to purchase a ground socket for pole. Presently, the Coates houses are the only houses in this price range that offer starling resistant entrance holes. This house is a particularly good house when problems with starlings or winged predators (ie owls) are expected.


Heath Aluminum Deluxe Martin House
Construction: Aluminum. Assembly required. Average assembly time is 2-3 hours. White or light green surfaces. Well ventilated.
Pole System: Martin house requires a 1.25” OD pole. Pole inserts through the bottom of the house and each floor attaches to the pole individually using a pole flange. Designed to be raised and lowered using a telescopic pole. Recommended pole: Heath Martin House Pole. Pole height above ground when installed is approximately 15 feet.
Access to House: Medium difficulty. The house is aluminum and relatively light, so it is generally not difficult to raise and lower the pole sections on a telescopic pole to gain access to the house.
Access for Cleaning and Nest Checks: Medium Difficulty. Screwdriver required. Bottom floors may be accessed by loosening pole flange (on each level) and lowering each level separately. Top floor may be accessed by removing roof panels.
Starling Resistance: None.
Occupancy Rates: 50%-70% average. Apartments are somewhat offset for increased occupancy.
Protection from Predators: None.
Door Stops: Included.
Apartment Size: 6” deep x 9.5” front x 3” back x 6” high, 2.25” round entrance holes.
Units: 6-24 apartments.
Expandability: Additional floors may be added up to a total of 4 floors (recommended maximum).
Comments: This house is a good house for a landlord that does not anticipate problems with starlings, sparrows, or winged predators and does not anticipate conducting frequent nest checks. Would recommend the 12-24 apartment models.


Heath Redwood Purple Martin House
Construction: Wood. Rustic Redwood. No assembly required. Well ventilated and insulated.
Pole System: Martin house requires a 1.25” OD pole. Mounting plate included with house. Recommended pole: Heath Martin House Pole. Pole height above ground when installed is approximately 15 feet.
Access to House: Medium-High difficulty. The house is approximately 22 lbs, so it is generally not easy to raise and lower the pole sections on a telescopic pole to gain access to the house. Requires medium strength to support weight of pole and house.
Access for Cleaning and Nest Checks: Medium difficulty. Screwdriver required. Front to each floor level is designed to pivot open, permitting access to 3 adjacent apartments at a time.
Starling Resistance: None.
Occupancy Rates: 50%-70% average. Apartments are not offset but porch dividers are in place.
Protection from Predators: None.
Door Stops: Not Included.
Apartment Size: 6” x 6” x 6”, 2.25” round entrance holes.
Units: 12 apartments.
Expandability: None.
Comments: A wooden house such as this is more difficult to access than an aluminum house because of its weight and would not be recommended for an elderly or young landlord who wishes to access the house for nest checks or cleaning. A martin landlord may wish to use an oil-based white stain on this house to prolong the life of the house. This house is a solid, well-constructed rustic house.


Heritage Farms Quad Pod System
Construction: Aluminum and UV-resistant plastic. Some assembly required. Average assembly time is 1 hour. White or green surfaces. Well ventilated. Very heavy-duty.
Pole System: Use only the Heritage Farms Pole System. Pole height above ground when installed is approximately 14.5 feet.
Access to House: Easy. The house can be raised and lowered easily with the winch and pulley system.
Access for Cleaning and Nest Checks: Easy. Each apartment may be checked without any tools and without disturbing other apartments.
Starling Resistance: Included. Pods come with three interchangeable door options – 2” round, crescent SREH, and blank doors.
Occupancy Rates: 80%-100% average. Apartments are large and offset, maximizing occupancy.
Protection from Predators: Included. Features an integrated predator guard inside each apartment, preventing predation by owls and hawks.
Door Stops: Included. Use blank doors that are provided.
Apartment Size: 8” x 8” x 8.5”, 2” round entrance holes or crescent SREH.
Units: 4-16 apartments.
Expandability: Additional pods may be added up to a total of 4 levels (recommended maximum).
Comments: We consider this martin system to be the best on the market. It is easy to access and clean, expandable, and offers maximum occupancy rates. Offers both standard round entrances as well as crescent SREH. Integrated predator guards were really a great idea. Additional 4-unit pods may be added at any time without disturbing existing pods. Would recommend using 2-4 pods (8-16 total apartments).


Lonestar Purple Martin House
Construction: Aluminum. Assembled. White surfaces. Well ventilated. Attic is insulated. Very heavy-duty.
Pole System: Use only the Lonestar Pole and Winch System. Pole height above ground when installed is approximately 14 feet.
Access to House: Easy. The house can be raised and lowered easily with the winch and pulley system.
Access for Cleaning and Nest Checks: Easy. Each apartment may be checked without any tools and without disturbing other apartments.
Starling Resistance: Optional. House may be purchased with round openings or crescent SREH (starling resistant entrance holes).
Occupancy Rates: 80%-100% average. Apartments are large and offset, maximizing occupancy.
Protection from Predators: Some. Size of apartments makes it difficult for winged predators to reach martins.
Door Stops: Included for 2” round holes only. Suggestion for SREH: may use clothespins to block entrances.
Apartment Size: 6” x 12” x 6”, 2” round entrance holes or 3" x 1.375" crescent SREH.
Units: 12-14 apartments.
Expandability: Additional 4 apartment levels may be added to the “Goliad” model up to 6 levels (recommended maximum).
Comments: Lonestar houses are considered to be some of the best martin houses available. They are easy to access and clean and offer high occupancy rates. Quality and workmanship is top-notch. Optional nest trays may be purchased to make nest cleanouts easier. Would recommend purchasing extended perching rods (sold separately).


Nature House Pioneer Martin House
Construction: Aluminum. Assembly required. Average assembly time is 1-3 hours. White or reflective surfaces. Green trim. Well ventilated.
Pole System: Martin house sits atop a 1.25” diameter pole. Pole attaches to aluminum base plate included with house. Designed to be raised and lowered using a telescopic pole. Recommended pole: Nature House (Trio) MPQ Martin House Pole. Pole height above ground when installed is approximately 14 feet.
Access to House: Medium difficulty. The house is aluminum and relatively light, so it is generally not difficult to raise and lower the pole sections on a telescopic pole to gain access to the house. Handles on pole system lock pole sections in place, but do not “crank” them up. The Nature House MPQ pole is one of the easier telescopic poles to operate.
Access for Cleaning and Nest Checks: Easy. Front of each apartment can be opened individually without tools. Starling Resistance: None.
Occupancy Rates: 50%-70% average. Porch dividers are sold separately and highly recommended in order to increase occupancy rates above 50%. Porch dividers cost approximately $6 for entire house.
Protection from Predators: Available. Predator guard kits may be purchased separately for approximately $42. Without predator guard kit, house offers no protection from winged predators.
Door Stops: Included.
Apartment Size: 6” x 6” x 6”, 2” round entrance holes.
Units: 12 apartments.
Expandability: None.
Comments: This house in an excellent house in its price range; though if you expect to have problems with starlings, you may wish to consider a house with SREH (starling resistant entrance holes). This house has been manufactured for many years and has been proven to be quite successful. Would definitely recommend porch dividers. Would recommend predator guard kit only if problems with winged predators expected. May wish to purchase a ground socket for pole.


Nature House Martin Safety System
Construction: Aluminum. Assembly required. Average assembly time is 1-3 hours. White or reflective surfaces. Green trim. Well ventilated.
Pole System: Pole and rope lanyard system come with house. This house may not be used with another pole. Pole height above ground when installed is approximately 14 feet.
Access to House: Easy. The house is easily raised and lowered using the rope lanyard system. This can be done easily by someone elderly or young.
Access for Cleaning and Nest Checks: Easy. Front of each apartment can be opened individually without tools. Starling Resistance: None.
Occupancy Rates: 50%-70% average. Porch dividers are sold separately and highly recommended in order to increase occupancy rates above 50%. Porch dividers cost approximately $6 for entire house.
Protection from Predators: Available. Predator guard kits may be purchased separately for approximately $42. Without predator guard kit, house offers no protection from winged predators.
Door Stops: Included.
Apartment Size: 6” x 6” x 6”, 2” round entrance holes.
Units: 12 apartments.
Expandability: None.
Comments: This house in an excellent house for anyone who intends to monitor the house closely – conducting nest checks and cleanouts. If you expect to have problems with starlings, you may wish to consider a house with SREH (starling resistant entrance holes). This house has been manufactured for many years and has been proven to be quite successful. Would definitely recommend porch dividers. Would recommend predator guard kit only if problems with winged predators expected.


Nature House Martin Castle Safety System
Construction: Aluminum. Assembly required. Average assembly time is 2-3 hours. White or reflective surfaces. Green trim. Well ventilated.
Pole System: Pole and winch system comes with house. This house may not be used with another pole system. Pole height above ground when installed is approximately 14 feet.
Access to House: Easy. The house is easily raised and lowered using the winch system.
Access for Cleaning and Nest Checks: Easy. Front of each apartment may be opened individually without tools. Starling Resistance: None.
Occupancy Rates: 50%-80% average. Offset apartment openings increase occupancy.
Protection from Predators: Available. Predator guard kits may be purchased separately for approximately $54. Without predator guard kit, house offers no protection from winged predators.
Door Stops: Included.
Apartment Size: 6.375” deep x 8.5” front x 3” back x 6” high, 2” round entrance holes.
Units: 24 apartments.
Expandability: None.
Comments: While this house does not generally achieve the same occupancy rates as the Lonestar Martin Houses and Heritage Farms Quad Pod systems, it often supports more nesting pairs (total number of nesting martins) because it features 24 apartments. It is very easy to access and clean. If you expect to have problems with starlings, you may wish to consider a house with SREH (starling resistant entrance holes). This house has been manufactured for many years and has been proven to be quite successful. Would recommend predator guard kit only if problems with winged predators expected.


Nature House Martin Mini-Castle Safety System
Construction: Aluminum. Assembly required. Average assembly time is 1-3 hours. White or reflective surfaces. Green trim. Well ventilated.
Pole System: Pole and rope lanyard system comes with house. This house may not be used with another pole. Pole height above ground when installed is approximately 14 feet.
Access to House: Easy. The house is easily raised and lowered using a rope lanyard system. This can be done easily by someone elderly or young.
Access for Cleaning and Nest Checks: Easy. Front of each apartment may be opened individually without tools. Starling Resistance: None.
Occupancy Rates: 50%-80% average. Offset apartment openings increase occupancy.
Protection from Predators: Available. Predator guard kits may be purchased separately for approximately $42. Without predator guard kit, house offers no protection from winged predators.
Door Stops: Included.
Apartment Size: 6.375” deep x 8.5” front x 3” back x 6” high, 2” round entrance holes.
Units: 12 apartments.
Expandability: None.
Comments: This house in an excellent house for anyone who intends to monitor the house closely – conducting nest checks and cleanouts. If you expect to have problems with starlings, you may wish to consider a house with SREH (starling resistant entrance holes).. This house has been manufactured for many years and has been proven to be quite successful. Would recommend predator guard kit only if problems with winged predators expected.


Natureline Plastic 11” Gourds
Construction: UV-resistant plastic. Well-designed. Durable. Very minor assembly required.
Hanging: Gourds may be hung using wire, string or hangers from the base of martin houses, gourd racks, home-made systems, etc.
Access for Cleaning and Nest Checks: Easy. Lift tab at inside base of entrance doors and pull out. Opening is quite ample for cleaning and nest checks.
Starling Resistance: Optional. Select either 2” round, oblong SREH, or crescent SREH openings. Blank doors also available as door stops or for making home-made openings. All doors are interchangeable.
Occupancy Rates: 80%-100% average.
Protection from Predators: Some. This is an 11” diameter gourd. Typically, a martin can avoid predation by moving to the back of the gourd – out of reach.
Door Stops: Optional. Blank doors may be purchased separately.
Apartment Size: 11” diameter; 2” round, oblong SREH, or crescent SREH doors available.
Comments: The Natureline gourd is one of the best (if not the best) synthetic gourd on the market. It is constructed of quality UV-resistant plastic, is very easy to clean out and conduct nest checks, and comes with various door options. It is ventilated at the top, helping to maintain proper temperatures. Its size separates it from many of the other gourds on the market – providing greater protection from winged predators. Definitely recommend using these gourds with a gourd rack or in conjunction with other martin housing. Would recommend using the crescent SREH doors if expect any problems with starlings.


Natureline Gourd Rack
Construction: UV-resistant plastic / steel. Installation and assembly required. Average assembly time is 2 hours.
Pole System: Can be purchased with 2” diameter 17 foot steel pole (4 sections), or 2” diameter pole may be purchased separately. Pole height above ground when installed is approximately 14.5 feet.
Access to Gourds: Easy-Medium. The gourd rack is easily raised and lowered using a rope pulley system.
Capacity: 1 level system holds up to 8 gourds, 2 level system holds up to 16 gourds.
Expandability: Gourds are purchased separately. It is not necessary to fill rack to full capacity when starting.
Comments: This gourd rack is setup to allow the rack to be raised and lowered along the pole. This permits cleaning and nest checks. The system does not come with a winch or cleat, and we would recommend purchasing a winch at a local automotive or boating store. Winches used on boat trailers work great.


Lonestar Gourd Rack
Construction: Electroplated steel and cable. Installation and assembly required. Average assembly time is 2 hours.
Pole System: Must use Lonestar Pole and Winch System. Pole height above ground when installed is approximately 14 feet.
Access to Gourds: Easy. The gourd rack is easily raised and lowered using the winch system.
Capacity: 2 level system holds up to 16 gourds.
Expandability: Gourds are purchased separately. It is not necessary to fill rack to full capacity when starting.
Comments: This is an excellent gourd rack and comes complete with everything you’ll need (except the gourds). The winch makes it very easy to raise and lower the gourd rack to gain access to the gourds.