Nature Canada

Purple Martin Housing

Purple Martins have a long and rich history of relying on housing provided by humans during the breeding season. Evidence suggests that the Indigenous Peoples of North America started hanging hollowed gourds high on poles to attract these magnificent creatures.

In return, the birds would provide population control for the abundant flying insects. This was obviously a successful relationship – to the point where Purple Martin has now evolved to ONLY use human-provided housing for nesting.

Using hollowed-out gourds (plastic or natural) is still commonplace in providing housing for Purple Martin. However, there have been many advancements made in the available housing complexes for these magnificent creatures. One example of such is the T-14 housing complex.

These condominium-style houses have features that provide a better chance for Purple Martin to successfully face off the natural elements and other animals in their efforts to breed successfully.

However, as any experienced martin property owner will tell you, a housing complex can only take you so far. A successful reproduction cycle relies tremendously on the efforts and vigilance of the colony’s stewards themselves.


Above is a “heat map” that Nature Canada is working on, created from data provided by members of the Ontario Purple Martin Association (OPMA). It shows both the distribution of housing in the province as well as details provided for certain years on occupancy, type of housing and other associated variables. This map is very much a work in progress. Nature Canada’s intention is to periodically update the map with new information provided by the OPMA.

To learn more about what practices you can implement to help Purple Martins, visit Nature Canada’s Beneficial Management Practices page, by clicking here.

To learn more about the different housing available for you and your colony of Purple Martin, click the following links below:

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