Saturday, March 17, 2012

No Time To Waste - Purple Martins Are Coming

An adult male purple martin resting on a wire.
Photo by James R. Hill III -

Purple Martins are the earliest tropical-wintering migrant to return to North America above Mexico.  There is a website that chronicles their return on a map as reported by volunteer bird watchers.
Map as of 13 March 2012

Purple Martins are the only bird species completely dependent on humans for their nesting sites.  In eastern North America, it nests exclusively within housing supplied by humans.  Because of this, the martin would disappear from that part of the USA if humans stopped providing nesting sites for it.

A few manufacturers of Purple Martin houses erroneously claim, on their packaging and in their literature, that one Purple Martin eats 2000 mosquitoes per day.  Such overzealous claims have been successful in driving a market that, in 1993, generated over 25 million dollars in annual sales.

So, you might be asking, if Purple Martins don't eat mosquitoes, what do they eat?  Numerous recent studies revealed that Purple Martins eat larger insects such as dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, katydids, mayflies, cicadas, beetles, flies, wasps, midges, and flying ants.

The way I see it, you don't want to make or buy and install a martin house if you think they will eat their way to a mosquito free patio for you and yours.  You will do it because you marvel at their arial acrobatics and want to provide homes for these beautiful birds.

Not every location is acceptable to Purple Martins. I don't want you going out spending $200 to end up housing English House Sparrows and European Starlings.  First, do some research. 

Below you will find links to sites about Purple Martins and Free House Plans:

Skil Tools Project - Plans

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

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