PMCA Colony Update 2019: The Martins are on Their Way

After a long winter, the news of the return of Purple Martins in the southern US is a welcoming sign that spring is on the way. As the Purple Martins continue to venture further north in their migration, it is important to stay updated and know when they will return to your area so you can prepare for their arrival.

To give your martins a proper welcome home, their housing should be cleaned and raised before they return to your colony. Keep housing closed until their arrival, and open cavities as needed to prevent house sparrows and tree swallows from moving in.  A handful of dry pine straw in each cavity will not only entice your Purple Martins into moving into a cavity, it will also provide warmth on those cool spring nights.

If you are a new landlord hoping to attract your first pair, play the Dawnsong early in the morning for a few hours and place a couple decoys on your housing to help attract any birds flying over to come down and check out your site. Because adult birds exhibit site fidelity and return to the same colony each year, a new colony is generally started by sub-adult birds. These sub-adult Purple Martins migrate 4-12 weeks after the first adults.

You can follow the migration of the Purple Martins in our Scout-Arrival Study. Landlords from all over the US and Canada report the date and location of their first Purple Martin siting of the season. This map is a useful tool to estimate the arrival of Purple Martins to your area and determine the best time to open your housing. To participate you can submit your scout report on our Scout-Arrival Study page or call the PMCA at 814-833-7656.

To shop for the mentioned attraction tools or any other Purple Martin products you may need, visit our online store or give us a call.



PMCA Field Biologist

15 thoughts on “PMCA Colony Update 2019: The Martins are on Their Way”

  1. Friday, February 1st at 5:30 pm, warm wind from the south. Pair of martins calling overhead and buzzing our gourd racks. On Monday, February 4th and four martins. We live in New Braunfels, TX 78130 on the I-35 corridor. We have had Purple Martins for 15 years, had 14 breeding pair last year and raised 53 chicks!

  2. An Adult Male and an Adult Female arrived at our house on Feb.8,2019 and it was freezing cold with winds out of the North at 20mph. It was 30° and just absolutely freezing cold. I took photos of the pair,but can not remember where to post them, if I could get a reminder Please. Thank you

  3. We arrived in Goldonna, La one year ago and promptly put our two store octagon metal up. Goldonna is in the Kisatchie forest west of Winnfield, la and east of Natchitoches,La. we were visited by a few Martins and a pair investigated our house but did not return. We are the only Martin house in the immediate 2 mile area. Might the audio cd help?

    1. Yes, the audio recording is a useful tool to attract Purple Martins to a new colony site.

  4. I am unable to sign it to the report site. I get sent a temp password and that temp password does not work. Please help me. I there shomeonw I can call?

  5. Help! I hear all the happy land lords talk about their many visiting Martins. We have a cluster of 18 gourds about 12ft off the ground. They have been installed 4 seasons now. We take them down in the fall,clean them, then re-install them in early March. The cluster is about 90 feet from the house. There is a pond 200 feet from the cluster of nests. 50 feet to a mimosa tree and next to our garden area. We are located close to the Kansas-MO border South of Kansas City, MO. What are we doing wrong??? Many of our friends have successful Martin experiences. We know that their are Martins in this area.

    1. Sounds like a great set up! Playing the dawnsong and having decoys on your housing are both helpful in attracting Purple Martins to a new colony. Have you tried any attraction techniques?

  6. When do the Martin’s arrive in Ocean City New Jersey? How late can I install Martin house after the first arrival date?

    1. New colonies are generally started by the sub-adult Purple Martins which are the hatchlings from last year. They migrate 4-12 weeks later than the first scouts. Our Scout-Arrival Study map is a useful tool to plan for the arrival of adult and sub-adult martins to your area.

  7. I have 6 in my back yard in Colorado Springs, CO. I wish I had a place for them to nest. My dad use to put up a “condo” of 12 holes for them in Illinois when I was a teenager! Colorado is not so full of mosquitos like Illinois so I was surprised to see them again!

  8. I’m worried! We have had Martin’s for 10 years and as of April this year none have arrived. I see sightings in the Louisville KY area but wonder if anyone else is experiencing this absence of birds?

    1. Did you have any signs of predation last year? Are any other birds (like House sparrows or European Starlings) living in your martin housing?

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