How did you get introduced to the Purple Martins

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
The Olsons
Posts: 3200
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:57 pm
Location: North Padre Island, TX

Hello Everyone,

Well, after this season is over, we all suffer from "empty nester syndrome" or "post martin stress syndrome" but we met a lot of nice friends on the Forum as well. As the season has been winding down it got more quiet on the Forum. Some of us would like to stay in touch through the off season and continue our martin related friendship....... :lol: :lol: :lol:

I was thinking that maybe each week someone can post a martin related topic whether it is a suggestion, a question that they never asked before, their very favorite martin picture, or like in my case.......How did you get introduced to the Purple Martins.....? I am sure we could learn a lot, laugh a lot, and keep each other company until the martin fever comes back in the early part of next year....We are all here for the same reason...our love for the Purple Martins.....and being Purple Martin friends.

Just a thought and just a suggestion
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Ok, again "How did you get introduced to the Purple Martins"?....



Looking forward to your input :wink:
Last edited by The Olsons on Tue Aug 21, 2007 7:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Love it or leave it~~~Astrid :-)
Posts: 1046
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: Pennsylvania/Espyville/Pymatuning Reservoir Area
Martin Colony History: Taking care of 11 active public colonies and trying to start two more in northwestern PA. Also attempting to restart another one in southwestern PA, in Collier Township's Hilltop Park. In 2017, not sure what happened but the ASY male returned and then a couple of weeks later he was gone. It could have been weather related. No other birds showed up. I had a starling nesting at the Public site that I had trouble getting rid of.
In 2018, we fledged 629 martins at all of the sites.

Hi Astrid,

I believe you do a great deal for this forum, all of your enthusiasm should be bottled and sold as pep pills!

Well, my story is this. I started off hosting bluebirds, then started to get some tree swallows. Due to some ignorance :) on my part, I thought they were purple martins and then purchased a Coates watersedge box with SREH's. I wished I had known about the forum at that time, since I would have gone with gourds instead. Anyways, I now have the Coates, a T14, 4 THG's, and 4-5 natural gourds.

I have been trying for three years, but last year and this year I had nest bowls created, but several things have happened to keep me from being successful. Last year, it was a week of cold, rainy weather and an ASY male died in the gourd, with no signs of any marks. After that, the female and the other pair left the site. This year, I had three bowls created, and either starlings or tree sparrows chased them away.

After hearing Andy Troyer and Morris Yoder talk about blue birds and TS at the PMCA conference, I am going to move my BB/TS nest boxes to the other side of the yard, approximately 60-70 yards from my T14. I am also going to only have the T14 up, with my THG's and see what happens, as well as my perching pole and feeder tray.

Good luck, and hope you get through this fall without any storm problems.

John Miller
Posts: 4774
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO


I was introduced to the hobby by my grandfather in Kentucky. He was a carpenter and made a fine wooden house. He called it a "martin box," a term still used by some.

John Miller
Donnie Hurdt MN
Posts: 1717
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2004 11:14 pm
Location: North Prairie, MN

Hello Astrid, I agree with bwenger about your enthusiasm on this and other fourms is boundless and it is always good to read what you have to say.
I dont rember what exactally what was the trigger that got me started on martins, it could be that there was an old wooden martin house on my Dads farm it had martins it only once that I can rember during my childhood. It could be that I am intersted in other birds too, I feed a lot of birds here at our place. No martins for me here this year again, I have been trying since 1996, but there is always next year. I did loan some of my gourds to a neighbor who has martins nine babies fledged out of them so I was not completly stumped this year, if I cant raise them here I will rais them somewhere else!
PMCA member and Martin fanatic....
2011 A pair of subbies fledged three young but none returned in 2012 :-(
2015 One Pair of subbies came and stayed a few nits but got chased away by Bluebirds and Tree swallows. :-(
2017 0ne pair of subbies nested and fledged 4 young
2018 Tree Swallows AGAIN chased away any martins that wanted to nest :evil:
2019 Same old story................ :-(
John & Linda - KY
Posts: 599
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 10:19 pm
Location: Kentucky/Hawesville

There were some martin colonies around town, but we had never paid much attention to them. We did have a successful bluebird box. Then Linda's father decided to make some wooden martin boxes. We set ours in the garage and forgot about it. But when we went to visit some friends in Alabama about ten years ago, we were met by the chatter of a successful colony of about 50 gourds. We showed some interest, so later that year my friend brought us ten gourds. We had a pole made for the house on top and the gourds underneath. Now we have three Tri-tel poles with a dozen gourds each for a total of 36. In our location, that's all we want. -- John
Posts: 823
Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 1:24 pm
Location: Florida/Tallahassee

Hi Astrid,

My father had martins when I was a teenager. I don't really remember them, but I remember my dad talking about how he enjoyed watching them swoop and perform acrobatics while flying over the lake. An owl attacked the colony and my father said it would be 7 years before the martins would return. I'm not sure where he got his information from, but I believed him at the time. That was in the 70's. My father is long passed away, and I figure the martins have forgotten the owl attack by now.

I saw the old house sitting in the shed and decided to fix it and put it up. I thought that the martin population had declined over the years, and was really surprised when they showed up. I awoke the morning of May 12 asking what is all that racket?? Is there a fight at the bird feeder? I raised the blinds and yelled out loud: Purple Martins!!! I haven't been the same since. My martin pictures are posted at work, and they are even up on the bulletin board at the wild bird store. It's funny how I never even noticed all of the martin houses around the lake until I put one up.

Now I want to replace the old house with one that is more nest-check friendly, but I'm glad I had the old house up once more, and it may still live on as an egg-shell feeder. The martins have won my heart, and I can't imagine them not being a part of my life now. I very much appreciate you and all of the wonderful people on this forum, and the knowledge that I have gained by reading the posts.

Last edited by wyatt on Wed Aug 22, 2007 5:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

I also hosted bluebirds. When the nests started getting attacked, I went on an internet search to find out what was going on. Most of the information on how to control HOSP was provided by martin landlords. I started reading about martins and the site requirements, and I had the minimum requirements covered. So I decided to go for it last July.

In the next month I built a T-14, added gourds during the winter, and hosted my first pair this spring. I feel very lucky to have found this site, and the more I read the more interested I became.

I really enjoy the martins, but I also enjoy the challenge of eliminating the S&S. I think I have OCD when I get interested in stuff. I am just glad the birds did their part, because I don't know if I could have waited for 20 years like some people do. Hopefully my pair will make it back next year, but Ill be sweating it hard until they come back.

Those 2 birds are the most important part of the future of my colony. I hope they tell some friends about how good it is here. :grin:
Al Denton
Posts: 1465
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 7:31 pm
Location: Carolina Shores NC
Martin Colony History: New site and housing for 2018...Trendsetter 12. 1 pair of subs. Fledged 5...2019...11 pairs

Many years ago Raleigh had a downtown minor league baseball park. My grandaddy took my brother and I to most of the home game as small boys. A high grassy bank lined the right field side with a row of small houses sitting along the top. Behind one of the houses were two white bird houses sitting on top of wooden poles. On most evenings a man used to sit on the backporch in a rocking chair watching the game and all these birds flying around the houses at the same time. I spent as much time watching those birds as I did watching the baseball game. One day before a game I got the nerve to walk all the way around ballpark and go into the yard where all these birds were staying. The man was in his garden and he stopped to tell me all about his birds. That was first time I heard of a Purple Martin. That must have been around 1957. I've been eat up with the Purple Martin bug ever since :wink:
2018-new site...1 pair
2019-11 pairs
Matt F.
Posts: 3903
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Great thread Astrid!!!!

When I was very young (around 5 years old), an older couple that lived next door put up a big, 4-story, wooden Martin house.
It immediately got Martins, and I was absolutely enamored with them.

A few years later, the couple moved. They left the Martin house, but it quickly went into disrepair, and got overgrown by trees. The next guy that moved into the house, had no interest in Martins. He quickly learned that I did, and graciously gave me the Martin house.

Knowing how much I loved Martins, my dad helped to refurbished the house, and put it up in our yard.
And that was the start of my first colony.

As a young kid, I can remember riding my bike around the neighborhood, looking for Martin houses. My friends used to think I was so weird for wanting to sit, and watch Purple Martins for hours on end.
There was one house a couple of blocks over (it was a Trio Grandpa), that was chock full of Martins every year. Once school let out for the summer, I would ride my bike over there pretty much every morning, to watch the action. I had a few pairs at my own house at that time, but it was not near as action packed as that Trio was.

Every since I was young, I have battled with severe OCD. To this day I have to take medication to keep it "manageable".

Folks with OCD, more often than not, obsess on stressful things. However, since I was young, Purple Martins have provided me with something good, and enjoyable to obsess on.

I can remember sitting in class during grade school, and looking at those old, fluorescent light covers (the ones that looked Martin house compartments, complete with room dividers), and thinking "those light covers would make for great Martin house compartments!" :lol:

Sorry for the rant.

I am still just as obsessed with Martins, to this day.
Jim Beatson~SC
Posts: 226
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 9:54 pm
Location: Sumter, SC
Martin Colony History: Started 2000
All natural gourds. Access ports and clinger SREH.
32 of 32 gourds occupied 2020

After our two sons finished playing baseball(thru college) birds became my new passion. I've always like birds, always wanted martins, but my wife didn't want "trashy" gourds in the yard. When I turned 60(2000) I hitched-up my pants and told her I was going to raise martins in retirement. It really didn't upset her till I found the Forum 2 years later, got enlightened and cut down one of her dogwood trees while she as at work.

But she got over it. She has warmed up to the martins and enjoys birding now.


Wow, Matt, that's a neat story. Thanks.

Well, this old man who was local used to build and sell martin houses on a little corner up the road from us, and I wondered what the houses were for? I was not at all familiar with martins, but DH bought a house to put up. That house sat lonely and uninhabited for 10-12 years, and I essentially forgot about the house, until 2 years ago, I noticed two pairs nesting in it. I never even saw them arrive, but it was great to watch. That started it all :)
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 11:24 am
Location: Indiana/Shoals

My grandmother had martins in town but I was never over enough to enjoy them years latter we moved to a country location the other locations were not good places to house martins. There was a guy at work that gave me some natural gourd seeds and i started growing gourds and buying housing I still don't have any nesting pairs but I'm very very close to having PMS and can't really wait to see if this happens nest year.
The Olsons
Posts: 3200
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:57 pm
Location: North Padre Island, TX

Hello Martin Friends,

Thank you for your kind words and also for the many replies and wonderful stories about how you got introduced to the Purple Martins. :grin: :grin: I love to read about the excitement that you all describe in different ways about when you first learned about Purple Martins. There is lots of joy, happiness, caring, dreams and hopes in your stories and people like you makes this world a better place. I appreciate the Forum and all you great and special martin friends every day.... :lol: :lol: :lol:


I think I am going to go outside now and turn on the daytime chatter and play with my decoys........ :oops: I think this is called denial...... :roll:
Love it or leave it~~~Astrid :-)
Posts: 1889
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 11:04 pm
Location: Texas/Katy

Well, I've always been interested with birds and excelled in school in biology. As a kid, my Dad and I built bird houses out at the farm. I like Cardinals and Blue Jay's. We also had feeders which were great during the Winter time. I had never heard about Purple Martins until 9 years ago.

Year's later when I moved to Texas, I noticed the huge mosquito problem in the bayou's near Houston. My buddy told me of these martin houses and these birds eat thousands of mosquito's per day. He pointed at a neighbor that had like 6-7 houses and he has never seen a mosquito since!

So, that was my motivation. Get purple martin housing and rid yourself of mosquitos! I haven't seen a mosquito since! :lol:
I'm a "nestcamaholic" Is 18 hours a day a bad thing? (I have 2 this year, luckily I have 2 eyes!)
ken buker
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2003 9:51 pm
Location: Washington/Silver Lake
Martin Colony History: Started backyard colony at Silver lake in June 2004 with single pair of SY martins. Built a nest, no eggs, they left by late July. Returned 2005 and colony grew to three pair successfully raising and fledging 15 healthy young. In 2018 this colony was 110 pair strong and thriving. Managed a small colony along the lower Columbia river west of Longview, WA for a few years prior to starting my colony at Silver Lake.

If you take a look at my posting dated August 18, 2005, it probably tells more about my introduction to martins and becoming a landlord than you really want to know. It is titled Be Patient, Persistent, and Don't give up.

Like you I love reading the different postings on the forum and feel a real camaraderie with so many who share their experiences.

Thanks fo all your contibution.

Ken Buker

When we moved to the country 7 years ago I started planting flower gardens for the birds and butterflies. Read lots of books on birds and gardens and started feeding the birds during the winter. A couple of years ago my mother-in-law gave me her martin houses, so that added purple martins to my new hobby. Now I love their company and all the chatter. I get so excited when they arrive. We have a really good location but had problems with HOSP the first year and a snake this year, so I am always anxious about whether or not they will be back.
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 7:07 pm
Location: Rural Louisiana
Martin Colony History: 90 nesting pair

Growing up in El Paso, Tx we had no swallow type birds, only bats and night hawks. My love of PMs started during my summer visits to my relatives farms in central Minnesota in the mid to late 60s. One of my uncles had over 50 pair in several houses. One of the houses was a home built octagon shaped house. I became intrigued watching PMs swoop around and the communal housing that was built for PMs was totally awesome so I thought.

When my parents retired and moved back to Minnesota, I followed. That first spring I built a house for my dad and we attracted two SY pair the next season. I remember thinking, ‘those are two females trying to nest!!’. EGADs!! What is happening? The house lasted several years and I bought my dad a Heath with telescoping pole, now this is state of the art in PM housing! So I thought.

But that was the beginning of my passion for PMs. All those years passed by and I had built several wooden houses for me and for others. Never keeping any for myself. I moved to Apex, North Carolina in 1979 where I saw my first string of natural gourds down the road. I quickly built a house but never had any come and stay. It was in the mid 90s when I got online and found Chuck Abare’s website. Through his website, I found the PMCA forum and their website. I had move to McKinney, Texas at this time, but my wife would not let me put up a PM house. Our backyard was a postage stamp size lot, typical of many here in this area. Not enough room without infringing on the neighbors, plus our backyard was all pool for the most part.

When the wife and I parted ways, the kids and I moved out in the country east of Dallas. Now I had my chance to start a colony. Following the advice of what I learned on the Chuck’s website and the forum, making all the changes to my set-up, I finally was successful in starting a colony. Wonderful!!

OK, Astrid, miene freund, Whats you story?? How did you get hooked???
Al Denton
Posts: 1465
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 7:31 pm
Location: Carolina Shores NC
Martin Colony History: New site and housing for 2018...Trendsetter 12. 1 pair of subs. Fledged 5...2019...11 pairs

Jim Beatson~SC wrote: When I turned 60(2000) I hitched-up my pants and told her I was going to raise martins in retirement.
That's funny Jim...It's been slow going for martins here at my midtown Raleigh location. I've had just one pair each year the last two years after years of trying. Depending on how things go this coming year, I just may be doing some "pants hitching" of my own :wink: I'm 57 now, and I'm starting to realize how important martins are to me. My wife might be about to find out too :lol: I can't rule the idea of me giving up the city life for a more martin suitable location. I've got my eye on a few of those place now...with an abundance of martins already :wink:
2018-new site...1 pair
2019-11 pairs

I remembered as a kid that the neighbors had some Purple martins and
this remembrence(is that a word?) came back to me some 60 years later.

I decided to build me a PM bird house. I got on the net and found out the correct size for an entry hole and was off to the races,well I built the house,8 cavities. The hole size was the only thing that was right. The cavities were to small 4x6x7,the color was wrong, kind of an pinkish beige with a maroon roof. I had it mounted 2 1/2 feet above a six foot cedar fence close to a tree and shed.

I had visitors right off the start but it took the 3rd season to come around before the first pair stayed .He was an ASY and she was,,,, well I don't really know. They hatched two but only one fledged. I never did nest checks,I didn't have predator guards.

I finally found this forum and became acquainted with Emil (you all remember him I'm sure). He only lives a few miles from me so we met one day,he showed me his set up and sold me 24 gourds and that was my start.

This second year(2007) I had 10 pair,7 were successful in fledging there babies,2 abandoned their nest with eggs for some unknown reason and the last pair just couldn't get there act together even tho they were here before some of the others that were successful.

I had a tremendous amount of visitors/activity, 100 plus at differnt times and 30 t0 50 almost daily. I have a radio tower in my immediate vicinity that hosts many many PM' every day after their morning feed so I predict that I will have a full compliment of 24 pairs in 2008.

Good Luck to all in 2008


This is a pm that I sent to John Miller last winter after he welcomed me to this forum. I consider John to be one of my martin "mentors". I am sure he won't mind if I share this with the rest of you.


From: bruntdog
To: John Miller
Posted: Mon Dec 11, 2006 9:48 pm
Subject: Back at ya!
Thanks for the nice welcome. I've been lurking around the pmca website for three of four years and finally felt like I could contribute something. Your right , I am pretty much on the edge of the martin range but locally there seems to be quite a few birds. As for my username Bruntdog, about ten years ago I bought an old farmhouse from a man named Brunt and I've been working like a dog on it ever since.This is the first year that I actually put up housing and after reading some of the posts on the forum I realize how fortunate I was. My heart really goes out to Lou in Michigan.
About five years ago we had a pretty vicious spring here with alot of wet snow and rainy weather. One day while I was beating on the old house, I noticed a cluster of about two dozen birds on the roof. I knew that they were purple martins but at the time I had no idea that they were starving to death. The fact that they were huddled on the exposed roof speaks to the lack of housing in my area. This incident is what really piqued my interest in purple martins. The next summer I also realized that great numbers of martins were flying over my house daily to feed . I live next to a river valley with alot of open fields and water. It really is the perfect spot for martins. I did a drive around survey of the colonies in town (Pop. 1003) and found two active houses. Both were ms-12's and they appeared to have about a dozen nesting pairs between them. I have no idea where the rest of the martins that were flying over came from but it certainly wasn't in Benkelman. To this day I haven't found any other active colonies in town or the surrounding area and believe me, I would of found it. Some evenings I would count over a hundred martins at once in the sky over my house.
Three years ago I decided to take the plunge and try to start a colony. I live next door to a feed mill so you can imagine the starling and sparrow problem I had to deal with. I spent the first two seasons just reducing the numbers of these pests. I put up nest box traps and bait traps and went to work. I quite counting sparrows after the first 500. All my neighbors thought I was nuts. (some still do!) I am kind of pleased to say that it has been over a month since I caught a sparrow and even longer for a starling. Once I thought I had these pests controlled I went ahead and built a couple of t-14's.
I put my first house up on April fools day of this year and within hours I had asy males visiting. I had made all my entrances crescents and the martins here don't care for them. I had a constant parade of visiting martins stay for an hour or two, make several half-hearted attempts to enter the house and then move on. This went on for almost a month! Finally in desperation, I lowered a house and cut two round entrances in it. I cranked that baby back up and started a daytime chatter cd. Literally within ten minutes both compartments were claimed and in about two hours nest building began. Well John, the old hole saw got pretty hot there in a little while. I ended up with ten pairs and a slug of wannabes. I honestly think that if I had started with round holes I would have doubled the number of birds that I hosted. This again I think is mute testament to the scarcity of quality nesting sites in my area.
Geez, didn't mean to write a book but sometimes I just ramble. Once again thanks for the welcome.

Hope you upcoming season is great, Tim the bruntdog

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