So you just received your first purple martin house? You’ve spent hours assembling every tiny part, erecting the pole and raising the house to its proper height. Now you’re wondering, “If martins return year after year to the same house, what can I do to attract them to my new house?”
Each year, starting in mid-January, adult martins begin to return to the homes they left the autumn before. Please see the “Range and Migration Map at http://www.purplemartin.org/main/mgt.html
to determine when martins in your area will return.
Sub-adult martins begin to return 4-6 weeks after the adults. Sub-adults are martins that fledged the summer before and have returned to raise their own families. These are the martins that will be looking for new homes. As they return, you will notice that their appearance is slightly different from that of the adults. The breast of the sub-adult male is mainly gray with patches of dark feathers throughout. Sub-adult females are a bit lighter than the adults and have white feathers under their tails.
When you notice their return, you will want to take two simple steps to attract them to your new housing.
- Make sure that you keep the entrance holes of your housing unit plugged until you see the first sub-adults arrive. Open only as many holes as birds you have attracted. As more sub-adults arrive – open the appropriate number of compartments to accommodate these martins.
- Many martin experts believe that the purple martin dawnsong is particularly attractive to the sub-adults. Use a portable CD or cassette player, located outside, to play the dawnsong at a volume of the same level as the early morning bird songs. Play the dawn song early in the morning, approximately 2-hours before sunrise. When attracting sub-adults, be sure you play the dawnsong only when the subadults are expected to arrive in your area.
For more information on preparing your martin house for the arrival of both adults and sub-adults, visit http://www.bestnest.com/bestnest/lc/lc_attract_purple_martins.asp
Material summarized from the Purple Martin Book – The Complete Guide to Attracting and Housing Purple Martins, written by Donald and Lillian Stokes and Justin L. Brown. For more great tips like these, purchase this book at http://www.bestnest.com/bestnest/Product.asp?ProdID=361&DeptID=45