Exotic Birds: All About Purple Martin Housing

Purple Martins are the largest breed of swallows that nest typically in North America. These beautiful and exotic birds mostly depend on man-made or artificial housing like wood and aluminum houses mounted on poles or natural and artificial bird house gourds.

If you are thinking of being a host to these species of exotic birds you will not be disappointed. Setting up individual houses or even a small colony in an open space near your house like the back yard can be a highly rewarding experience.

Here are some of the different housing options that Purple martins prefer to nest in.

Aluminum Houses:

As far as housing Purple martins go, selecting the right size house is essential. Aluminum houses for martins are not only heavy duty and durable but also have openings on all four corners. Providing spacious housing like this for the birds to perch on not only increases the potential of occupancy by them but also does away with territorial issues.

Wood Houses:

Many Martin hobbyists also prefer to go with wooden houses, mainly because it has two design features that help attract them. The first one is that wooden houses can be lowered or raised vertically without making it tip over. Secondly, the nesting spaces inside are easily accessible, which allows a person to remove any unwanted pests or other species of birds. This also allows the houses to be monitored without disturbing or damaging the nests.

PVC Plastic Houses:

For the first time their hobbyist, going with the plastic houses will be the perfect and cheapest way to start off your Bird’s colony. PVC houses are made out of hard plastic that is durable and pleasant to look at. They are also extremely easy to assemble and provide UV protection.

Gourds:

Bird house gourds have always been popular among Purple’s hobbyists. Today, you can easily grow natural gourds in your backyard with proper information. The advantage of having a gourd is that they do not attract other bird species like sparrows or starlings that can cause problems for the Purple martin colony.

Gourds are usually painted white to reflect heat and provide a cool environment for them to nest in. Plastic gourds enable the owners to access inner reaches of purple martin houses by way of a movable vent cap and extra access entrances for regular clean-ups and nest checks.

Most of the Purple Martin houses have Starling or round openings, door plugs, front porches and internal predator guards. By carefully reading and understanding the importance of getting the right kind of housing you can ensure that the Birds will come to nest in your colony every year.

Feeding Birds – What Type of Feeder Should You Use?

Wild birds are surely capable of feeding themselves off the land. However, when weather extremes make things tougher for them, having an additional source of food or water can be a life saver.

You may see flocks of red-winged blackbirds descend on your backyard seed feeder before they leave their northern range. Feeders can help prepare wild birds for their long journey of migration. You may live on the southwest coast of North America and see Anna’s Hummingbirds at your nectar feeder in the winter. Wherever you live, your wild birds can certainly use a helping hand from time to time throughout the year.

Wild birds will come to feed at many different types of feeders depending on the type of feeder they prefer. Some birds prefer most to forage from the ground or platform feeders, as do cardinals. Others as this male house finch will feed from the ground, platform feeders, tube feeders, and seed feeders readily all as one. Others still, like the goldfinch prefer thistle seed from open fields or from tube feeders.

Platform feeders will attract Chipping Sparrows, Cardinals, American Tree Sparrows, Towhees, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Blue Grosbeak, Song Sparrows, White-Throated Sparrows, Meadowlarks, Evening Grosbeak, Blue Jays, Magpies, Steller’s Jays, Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves, Black-Capped Chickadee, Gray Catbirds, Eastern Bluebirds, Pine Grosbeak, Northern Mockingbirds, and others.

Platform feeders can be as simple as a piece of wood on your picnic table, or your picnic table itself. However, that can be quite messy. Another option would be to get a 4×4 post and nail a wood plank sized 12 x 12 or larger to the top of the post. Drill holes through the wood plank so that water does not just sit as a puddle. To prevent most of the food pieces from just falling off to the ground, you may take some thin wood trimming and nail it to the border of the wood plank. Nailing the wood trim to surround the border of the wood plank will help keep most of the nuts, fruit, suet, or bread from just falling off. Although, having some of the scraps fall to the ground is good, as this will also attract other birds that will like to forage on the ground most often.

Suet Feeders attract: Blue Jays, Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Black-Capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Nuthatch, Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Mockingbirds, Brown Creepers, Gray Catbirds, Wrens, Steller’s Jays, and more.

A suet feeder is typically made of wire mesh, and easily hung from a tree branch, hanger, or pole.

Fruit feeders/ Fruit & Jelly Feeders attract Orioles, Western Tanagers, Scarlet Tanagers, and Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.

Fruit feeders will typically utilize cups for jelly as in the feeder above, with side pins for sticking orange halves.

Peanut Feeders attract: Indigo Bunting, Blue Jays, Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Eastern Bluebirds, and others.

Hummingbird or Sugar Water Feeders attract more than Hummingbirds. They also will attract Bullock’s Orioles, Baltimore Orioles, Western Tanagers, and House Finch among others.

Seed Feeders attract: Painted Bunting, Purple Finch, American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, Grosbeak, House Sparrows, Juncos, Common Redpoll, Red Crossbill, Tree Sparrows, and many more.

The Best Spring Feed for Your Birds

Spring is certainly an important time for bird feeding. Many migratory species will be passing through your garden on their way back home, and you can expect to see new nests and hatchlings springing up around your area when mating season kicks off. Birds have specific nutritional needs throughout the period, however, so it’s worth taking the time to note just what you should be providing.

Mealworms

These are an old standby, and an excellent source of live feed. Unlike their larger, crunchier brethren, mealworms are both protein heavy and moist. They benefit smaller birds the most, and you can expect to see them surge in popularity during mating season. Adults will bring them back to the nest to sustain their young, as they’re one of the most nutritious and edible feeds out there.

Remember, they can easily go off if left outside for too long. Consider soaking them in water for a little extra moisture on hot days, as long as they’re all eaten quickly. As always, be sure to clean up any uneaten remnants to prevent disease.

Fruit

If you grow a variety of plants in your garden, there’s every chance you have a few apples and pears going spare through spring. These large, meaty and moist fruits are particularly suited to feeding larger birds, capable of digging in more effectively. The high water content will certainly benefit them in hotter weeks, and slicing up a few to leave on the feeder will keep a lot of birds happy.

As an interesting idea for presentation, consider slicing a fruit in half and impaling It on the branch of a tree. This will move larger birds into the canopy, while producing a pleasant natural appearance. Just be sure not to leave any sliced fruit out for longer than a few days. In the heat and rain of spring it’s quite easy for them to rot, so dense trees and covered feeders are a nice touch.

Seeds and Nuts

As ever, nyger seeds make for a great investment, and are extremely popular among the majority of finch species. They’re very fatty for their size, but will need a specialised feeder to hold them in.

Peanuts are a regular feature of any feed mix, but will require special attention if you intend to leave them out in the spring. They’re heavy in fat and protein, but be sure not to make the mistake of leaving out salted nuts, birds can’t process the salt and will suffer for it.

Remember, whole peanuts can easily choke a newly hatched bird, so either crush up your nuts or leave them in a mesh they cannot be removed from whole. Any other small seeds and nuts will suffice, sunflower hearts being another high nutrition treat.