How to Build a Birdhouse for Martins

Learn how to build a birdhouse for martins, the beneficial bird that not only eats copious amounts of insects, but also scares away hawks and crows.


| February/March 1998


Some things are just intrinsically appealing to me, such as beanie caps with propellers, old pickup trucks and birdhouses. For reasons that I can't quite put my finger on, they are just ... neat. And a two or three-story martin birdhouse, well...

I became interested in martin birdhouses after seeing the movie Witness with Harrison Ford. If you remember, he smashed into one and then spent some time repairing both the house and his troubled spirit. I never actually saw martins in that particular house. It's possible that Harrison botched the job. To entice a colony to your birdhouse, you must make it attractive to them as well as you.

Martins: The Always Helpful Visitor

Purple martins need elbow room, so if you can, allow at least a 20-foot diameter of clear space around the birdhouse. These birds like a high perch and like to have an abundance of egg shells at their disposal (not enough calcium in the old bug diet). Last, but not least, they like plenty of nice nesting material.

There are two practical reasons for attracting a martin colony to your homestead. First is that they are insect eaters — flies, mosquitoes, moths and wasps, to name a few. When they are feeding their young (in the birdhouse), they have been observed returning with an insect every 30 seconds. Let's see, 10 hours of daylight equals 600 minutes or 1,200 bugs per day, per bird! Wow! So if you have any domestic critters producing organic substances which attract flies, here is a safe and ecologically sound way to control their numbers.

The other contribution the colony will make is to scare away certain less desirable birds. Martins use their numbers to chase away hawks and crows. Got crows in the corn which are ignoring even the most realistic animated scarecrow? Or maybe you've lost a few chicks to the hawks? Martins to the rescue!

The Native Americans knew the advantages of having martin colonies around their corn fields. That's why they put up birdhouses made from gourds and calabashes to attract them. So even if you regard making the birdhouse as a chore, it is well worth the trouble and expense. There is another reward: the enjoyment of bird-watching right in your own backyard.





mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE



Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265