What do you do????????

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts

I am appealing to all the readers who read and do not comment.This request being derived from previuos posts on nesting material,don't stop here ,please read

I am an early morning dummy as you can see by the time right now its only 1:47AM and I have already had breakfast and coffee and will shower and be on my way to the mines in a little bit,,,aha!!!!! but I'll come home at 10AM ,,,so whose the dummy..

Here's my appeal what do the most of you do when it comes to nest material, just a quick nothing,styrofoam,leaves,pine straw or what ever would help. I think successful ,popular more often used is the way I will go but I need input to determine that.

I wish there was a poll format, it might be interesting to see a general cross cut of which way the ball bounces, so take a few seconds and post up .

Thanks dick

hey Dick..........pinestraw and oak leaves worked for me.....Bren
Emil Pampell-Tx
Posts: 6743
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 1:26 pm
Location: Tx, Richmond (SW of Houston)
Martin Colony History: First started in Gretna, La in 1969 with a small homemade house, have had martins ever since at 2 different homes in Texas

Dick, I agree 100% with Bren. Pine straw and oak leaves dry out quickly when wet, they retain very little moisture, and are readily available in our area. I use both for mulching around my fruit trees & flowers. Pine straw (soft pine needles) are falling heavily now, they are raked up and bagged for garbage, and oak leaves (live oak leaves) will be falling in about a month. I stop to pick up bags of them when I see them sitting out for garbage pickup. I pick up several heaping pickup loads every year, I hate to see such wonderful mulch & gardening material go to the dump. Since I like to garden, they are never wasted at my place, and they also work excellently for the purple martins.
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:55 pm
Location: Greenville, AL

Same here. Pine straw, water oak leaves, broom straw or broom sage placed on a platform near the housing seems to create lots of activity during nest building time.........db
Al Denton
Posts: 1468
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

Fallen brown pine needles or "pinestraw" :)
2018-new site...1 pair
2019-11 pairs
2020-15 pairs
Posts: 66
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2003 4:57 pm
Location: GA/Cohutta

Ditto the above.

Pine straw and Oak Leaves here too.
Adam Romain
Posts: 289
Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2004 5:40 pm
Location: Texas, Fulshear

Same here! Pine straw and oak leaves are plentiful this time of year and work great. 8)

I used pinestraw last year Dick. I've heard that wheat straw will work as well. I would watch the martins fly out in the field behind my house for their mud needs last year and their mud dams always had wheat straw in it.

Last edited by Guest on Thu Jan 11, 2007 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Joe Levins
Posts: 226
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 7:56 pm
Location: Alabama/Wetumpka

I've been using pinestraw for years.
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri May 28, 2004 10:23 am
Location: Tennesse,Memphis
Martin Colony History: Started tying in 2001 finally got 3 pair in 2003. Since then I had a steady increase to the 34 pair I now host in 2 Watersedge Suites 1 Trendsetter,and 12 plastic gourds.

Dick,This year I'm trying something a little different. In my natural gourds just a handful of pine straw,the super gourds got a floor of 3/16 peg board and then the pine straw. In the Watersedge Suites I am trying half shelf liner and half styrifoam to cover the slick metal subfloor before adding a small amount of pinestraw
Tenth year as a landlord. Started with 9 pair the second year housing was up ,2004. Now have 32 pair here in town, and 38 pair at the farm. Life is truly good
Posts: 2174
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 3:06 am
Location: Grand Prairie,Tx

Pine straw and Oak Leaves have worked for me starting since 1979
Pictures Taken with Canon Rebel XT Digital using a Sigma 50-500 Long Lens.

Wishing everyone a Great Martin Year
Happy Martining for 2020 to everyone,



Oak leaves and pine straw are almost non-existent in my coastal canal community. My neighbor across the canal has the only pine tree in the neighborhood. The martins flock there to pick up the needles, about a 50' flight from my colony.

For a "starter" material base I use Timothy hay. The martins use some additional pine needles to build a nest cup on top. I guess I'm lucky but I have not had problems with moisture retention in the hay.

City by the Sea, TX
Mary Wilson-SW Ont
Posts: 218
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 6:24 pm
Location: Leamington Ontario

I wish we had "pine" straw. The pine needles we get here are like a pincushion - I hate picking them up and I can't imagine the martins would like them. We just get a bale of straw, and using shears, I cut it into pieces. It does not hold any moisture. If I can collect some, I get some oak leaves as well, and crumble them up - that makes for a softer "topping" on the straw. But the martins always add to our straw base, and it is interesting what they bring in. One year we had a high number of nests made out of maple keys. They also love the soybean crop gleanings from the local fields. I think the main thing, especially here in the "colder" north :wink: (not so sure about that anymore) is to line the house/gourd so that they are not sitting on cold metal/plastic. Also, it gives them a headstart on their nest building process. So, use anything that doesn't hold moisture.


Not sure if this will help you or not but I will show you a pic of my first ever nest in 2005. Note the empty nest which shows how the nests looked before the martins arrived (this was my first year and I had no idea what I was doing and added pine straw cause that's what I heard here on this site). The nest with eggs will show you how the martins added to it: mud, leaves, twigs (even with stickers of some sort). You can see how the mud dam ramps up just in front of the entrance to the nest.

Oh, I almost forgot, the red stuff is cedar sawdust. I had read where it repels insects and thought it would be a good thing to add to the nest for natural way to discourage insects. This wasn't a good idea as it did absorb water and stay moist once it was wet.

Donna - TX
Posts: 889
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2006 6:44 pm
Location: Texas/Pearland

I put pine needles and dried leaves inside the cavity before they get here.

I put pine needles, leaves, oyster shells, egg shells and small twigs in my wooden tray (about 10ft off the ground) for them to add to their nest. They love the small twigs I get off of my Crepe Myrtles.
Donna Gillbee

Donna I've got some Myrtles but wouldn't twigs from that be awfully course for nesting material???How do the PM's use it?



The needles from pine trees vary greatly and in our northern part of the country(s) you will probably have the best luck by looking for white pine trees. The larger mature white pines will have a layer of old pine needles under them that are very soft and plyable. I'm sure if you keep an eye out you should be able to find someone in your local that would let you take some.

Good luck this season to your Canadian martins! They're some kind of hearty birds!

Jeff Nelson
Kelly Applegate~MN
Posts: 291
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2003 12:54 pm
Location: Princeton, Minnesota

I use white pine needles as a base. Then I offer a variety of coarse, weedy stems that I collect out in the field. I cut them to be about 4" long and are about the diameter of a pencil. At the john deere dealership colony that I monitor, they find zip-ties and poly-twine scattered about on the ground where the lawn tractors are sold. There was a death a few years a back when an ASY male was nest building and got his foot caught on some poly-twine and was found hanging dead from the house. This is yet another reason to do nest checks and offer safe nesting materials. The nest material offered should be in a safe spot away from predators that will try to ambush the martins, preferably on an elevated platform in the open.
John & Linda - KY
Posts: 599
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 10:19 pm
Location: Kentucky/Hawesville

I don't add anything. The martins are perfectly capable of finding the materials to build their nest, and I get the enjoyment of sitting on my deck and watching them do it. -- John
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