Too many trees for martins?

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
Post Reply
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:22 pm
Location: Keller, TX

We recently moved into a neighborhood that has quite fairly thick amount of trees. I was hoping to put up a purple martin house, but not sure if we will get any due to the number of trees. Any input would be appreciated. Last fall our yard had a ton of mosquitos so I was really hoping to put up a house.
Posts: 887
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- didnt know anything about martins, put up an all wrong house in 2016 and had two come by and inspect all the cavities. Left soon after not to return. Learned what i could on PMCA made adjustments and next year was successful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
Home colony: mix natural gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satelite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 gourds: PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mino castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
PMCA member

Welcome! Trees can be tough, here is a general rule: Habitat & Location: Martin housing should be placed in the most open spot available (at least 40’, but preferably 60’ from trees or buildings) and within 100’ of human housing or activity. Proximity to humans and a wide-open location and flight area will help protect the martins from predators.

Mine are fairly close to a tree but there are flyways and I was lucky enough to have them last year.

Martins wont help control mosquito's.
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
Dale D
Posts: 329
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:11 am
Location: Orlando, Fl
Martin Colony History: Landlord since 2004

JonRentschler wrote:We recently moved into a neighborhood that has quite fairly thick amount of trees. I was hoping to put up a purple martin house, but not sure if we will get any due to the number of trees. Any input would be appreciated. Last fall our yard had a ton of mosquitos so I was really hoping to put up a house.
Personally, I believe a lot of it depends on what housing is available in the area you live. If there are more desirable locations in your area with Martin housing then you will probably have a difficult time getting them to stay. I have nearby trees here but, no other housing withing 5 miles of me so my Martin's tolerate it and have so for 14 years now.

As far as mosquitoes go Martin's eat very few since when the mosquitoes are out the Martin's are in their housing roosting. Martin's primary diet here are Dragonflies. Best of luck in your efforts attracting Martin's.
Orlando, FL Landlord since 2004
Offer 42 Cavities Total
Dave Duit
Posts: 1852
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit and join.

Hi Jon,
As mentioned in the earlier posts, location of the martin houses should be placed in the most open spot possible for an open fly zone to avoid predator attacks from hawks and owls. The old mosquito myth still exists, but don't be disappointed because martins will eat plenty of other pesky flying insects from your area. You have come to the right place for tons of great information. I would suggest absorbing as much information as you possibly can to educate yourself on taking care and looking out for the best interests of the martins. I encourage you to read all the info under the education section of the website.You ae also welcome to check out my website and organization for additional info at:, feel free to register there as a new member as well. I wish you the best with martins.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
Posts: 523
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 7:35 am
Location: Kansas, Lawrence
Martin Colony History: 1 gourd rack with 24 gourd capacity. 2018, my 11th year hosting martins.
18 pair in 2017.

If you're only interested in reducing mosquitoes, check into attracting bats. Trees aren't such an issue in attracting bats as they are with Purple Martins.

If you enjoy birds, hosting Purple Martins is a great way to make a difference while enjoying birds.
PMCA Member, Single Gourd Rack, 2019 marks 12 years hosting martins.
Posts: 356
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:26 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX
Martin Colony History: ................
2019: 11 pairs
2018: 11 pairs - 43 fledged
2017: 4 pairs - 17 fledged

I have trees very close to my gourds on 3 sides. I have a Sugar Hackberry and a Live Oak that are taller than the gourd rack. I assume this was the main reason it took me a few years to attract my first Martins. However, I only was successful after adding an extension to my pole.

On the other side of the rack, my neighbor has no trees and a swimming pool. I think the open flyway and drinking water next to the colony was a huge factor in my eventual success.

Another factor that I think helps here in my area is that the Accipiters are mostly gone before the Martins start nesting in earnest. I think that's probably one reason why they are more tolerant of trees than in areas where hawks are a problem.

This winter I've done some pruning to try to create a little more space and open up some better flyways now that I know how they like to come and go.
trees.jpg (113.32 KiB) Viewed 1914 times
"If at first you don't succeed, keep on suckin' till you do succeed." - Curly Howard
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 648
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

The first year we put up a martin pole it was completely free of trees, had a great open flyway from all directions and was near our lake. We thought it was a perfect spot. We saw not one martin checking it out. On the advice of our mentor, we moved it closer to the back of our house, about 20’ away but that also put it close to a couple of live oaks. However they still have open flyways. The martins came and kept coming. They seem to like being close to where we hang out. In fact a couple of years ago they got spooked by a road runner that was at the base of one of our poles. Really spooked! They were panicking in predator flight mode. I noticed what was going on and went outside to scare the RR away. He left as soon as I opened the door and I went to the pole and stood directly underneath it. They all came back, landed on their porches chattering up a storm and thanked me :grin:
It was an awesome feeling knowing they trusted me to keep them safe.
The trees haven’t been a problem possibly because they aren’t that tall. We do have hawks but they don’t seem to hide in them.
I’ve always read not to put your pole close to trees which I’m sure is correct in most instances. Fortunately ours have not been a hindrance. Having them closer to our house but still having open flyways has worked well now for 13 years.
Post Reply