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70birds

That Nest in Birdhouses

70birds

That Nest in Birdhouses

70birds

That Nest in Birdhouses

Put the right nest boxes in the right place.

Keep nest boxes clean.

Protect birds from pests and predators.

 

Even cities have large bird populations that live in birdhouses.

See City Birds

 

See each species page for habits, geographic ranges and optimum locations and placement.

 

More than 70 North American bird species live in nest boxes or on platforms.

See which birds live near you. Learn about those birds and how to make birdhouses for them.

 

Always use corrosion resistant screws and hardware. Drill countersunk pilot holes in primary work pieces (first piece the screw is inserted into). Drill regular pilot holes in secondary work pieces.

 

3/4″ wood stock is the most common. 5/8″ stock where called for can be supplied with fencing material from most lumberyards. 5/8″ stock is used on the smaller nest boxes because 3/4″ stock is too thick and makes them look odd.

 

For increased ventilation in warmer climates, floor and side panel corner gaps can be larger than plans specify.

Some woodworkers may prefer to drill strategically located holes for ventilation and leave floor panels whole.

 

Make pilot holes slightly larger in the primary work piece (first piece in which the screw is inserted) such that screws can be turned in easily without leaving room for movement.

Screws should be more snug in secondary work pieces so that screws can be tightened, but not so tight as to split the wood or to strip the hole and loosen the screw.

 

These plans are flexible.

Depending on climate and sun exposure, the top of the front panel (or side panels) can be cut at 90º and 1/2″ or 3/4″ shorter to create a gap under the roof, which provides extra ventilation.

Create you own design using the 4 species dimensions.

 

Birding is a favorite hobby of millions of adults and kids. Invite a bird family with the right birdhouse in the right place.

Attracting bird families to birdhouses can be done anywhere. Even cities have large bird populations that live in birdhouses.

 

Make bird houses with cedar, pine, or almost any soft wood.

Use rough-cut wood stock so that birds can grip wood surfaces.

Always use corrosion resistant screws and hardware.

A hinged roof or side door provides easy access to the interior.

 

Build nest boxes according to species dimensions provided by USGS and USFWS: 1. floor, 2. inside front floor to ceiling, 3. inside floor to top of hole, 4. hole diameter.

Nest boxes made according to those four species-specific dimensions and placed in the right location will attract the intended bird species and possibly additional bird species.

 

The familiar “nest box” design on these pages follow U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended species-specific dimensions that simulate tree cavities in which individual species commonly occupy.

 

(House Martin)

Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Progne
Species: subis

La. passer sparrow, small bird
La. forma form, kind, species
La. hirundo a swallow

La. idae appearance, resemblance
La. subis a kind of bird

Gr. Prokne Mythological King Tereus, Philomela, and Prokne were turned into birds, a hoopoe, a nightingale, and a swallow.

Painting of purple martins soaring, foraging for flying insects over and around their house.

Largest of the North American swallows, about eight inches long with a twelve inch wingspan. Dark steel-blue except for brownish black wings. Females are brownish above and grayish underneath. They have long thin speedy wings and a moderately forked tail.

Purple martins inhabit most of temperate North America and winter in South America.

Purple Martins inhabit most of temperate North America from Mexico throughout the eastern U.S., north to Newfoundland, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, in parts of the southwest and along the Pacific coast. 

They winter in northern South America and their return is an anticipated event for purple martin house enthusiasts.

They build nests of twigs, leaves, grasses, feathers, odd rubbish and sometimes mud. They used to nest in natural or abandoned tree hollows and rock crevices.

Now most purple martins nest in the popular martin houses or other nest boxes and gourds.

There are rare reports of pairs or colonies nesting in their historical homes. A few have nested in cliff nooks, tree hollows and woodpecker holes, usually in the west.

Painting of purple martins perched on tree branches.

Purple martins scatter out over the country catching flying insects in graceful almost falcon like flight, low in cooler, cloudy weather and higher on warm sunny days, each parent returning to feed their young about one hundred times between sunup and sundown.

They hunt for a variety of insects: usually moths, dragonflies, butterflies, horse flies, deer flies and other available flying insects depending on the region and seasonal fly hatches.

They are social birds. They greet each other gurgling and chattering and even visit each other’s nests.

Females lay three to five white eggs, which hatch after about two weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another three weeks.

Purple martins like groups of single houses and houses with as many as 30 rooms although they seem to prefer somewhere in between the two extremes. Two or three apartment buildings do nicely for large colonies.

Their popularity and reliance on martin houses has created one of the great North American Pastimes: attracting colonies of dozens of martins to apartment like birdhouses mounted high in wide open backyards.

Enticing colonies to occupy martin houses is so competitive enthusiasts utilize the latest research and tips – white paint to keep houses cool in the hot sun, room sizes, entrance hole sizes and protective entrance hole guards.

Illustration of purple martins flying and foraging for insects near their home.

Specially designed holes are shaped to deter intruders, railings protect the new born from falling, guards against crawling and flying predators reaching into the interior and more.

Martins need to be monitored for competitors. Mobs of English Sparrows sometimes drive the weaker colonies from their homes which is why Martin houses should contain several homes or multiple nest boxes should be mounted.

Colonies often just disappear because they are driven away by pests or because they are attracted to a nicer Martin house.

Rooms should be at least seven inches cubed and deeper, measured from the entrance, if raptors are a threat. Where owls are numerous door guards and extra deep rooms help prevent them from reaching into rooms. If a room is nine or ten inches deep, Martins will place the nest in the back furthest from the door. Paint houses white.

Martins need a lot of care. It’s a responsibility. Telescoping poles, door stops, starling resistant entrances and removable nest trays make the chores much easier. Easier means less likely to cause damage, quicker, safer, and reduced burden means the landlord is more likely to continue good responsible practice. Metal poles and pole guards help prevent predators from climbing poles.

Painting of purple martins perched on high line wires under a colorful sunlit sky.

Some people provide sticks, straw, mud and other materials for their martins. Some even improve nests built by young inexperienced parents making sure floors are covered.

If mites infest nests they will feed on the chicks blood – clean and replace the nests and you might be saving their lives. If an egg is broken, remove it to avoid unsanitary conditions.

About the middle of August, martins begin migrating in large flocks towards South America.

Map depicts North American latitudes to which purple martins return and their approximate dates.

With the return migration north, martins may arrive in southern U.S. as early as February and in Canada as late as May. See the map of general return arrival dates superimposed over the USGS Breeding Bird Survey map.

Opening up rooms too early in spring invites sparrow and starling mobs. Some martin houses come with door stops. Or they are easily made.

Owners of houses occupied by purple martin colonies learn from experience when it’s best to open the nesting boxes.

Most martins and their broods return to the colony they occupied, were raised in, or to another near by.

Males returning to formerly occupied homes immediately renew their claim.

The female selects the room and both female and male build the nest two or three weeks later.

Occasionally males fight over already claimed rooms. Although the first claim usually provides enough steadfastness to overcome intruders.

Those attempting to attract new colonies should watch for martins and open rooms after the first martin sighting.

Watch closely for English sparrows. Deal with the unwanted hoards immediately.

Painting of a purple martin perched on a wood roof shingles.

Don’t be discouraged if sparrow or starling nests need to be removed repeatedly. You will discourage them and you will win.

Unfinished Purple Martin House Design

The complete front facades of this unfinished purple martin house design are removable to make cleaning and maintenance easier.

The facades are inserted into place without the need for screws or other fasteners.

The drawings do not include dimensions. The design is unfinished.

Visit an Purple Martin House Post

No Purple Martin House Design

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(House Martin)

Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Progne
Species: subis

La. passer sparrow, small bird
La. forma form, kind, species
La. hirundo a swallow

La. idae appearance, resemblance
La. subis a kind of bird

Gr. Prokne Mythological King Tereus, Philomela, and Prokne were turned into birds, a hoopoe, a nightingale, and a swallow.

Painting of purple martins flying around and perched on their house on a tower..

Largest of the North American swallows, about eight inches long with a twelve inch wingspan. Dark steel-blue except for brownish black wings. Females are brownish above and grayish underneath. They have long thin speedy wings and a moderately forked tail.

Purple martins inhabit most of temperate North America and winter in South America.

Purple Martins inhabit most of temperate North America from Mexico throughout the eastern U.S., north to Newfoundland, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, in parts of the southwest and along the Pacific coast. 

They winter in northern South America and their return is an anticipated event for purple martin house enthusiasts.

They build nests of twigs, leaves, grasses, feathers, odd rubbish and sometimes mud.

They used to nest in natural or abandoned tree hollows and rock crevices.

Now most purple martins nest in the popular martin houses or other nest boxes and gourds.

There are rare reports of pairs or colonies nesting in their historical homes.

A few have nested in cliff nooks, tree hollows and woodpecker holes, usually in the west.

Painting of a Purple Martin pair perched on tree twigs.

Purple martins scatter out over the country catching flying insects in graceful almost falcon like flight, low in cooler, cloudy weather and higher on warm sunny days, each parent returning to feed their young about one hundred times between sunup and sundown.

They hunt for a variety of insects: usually moths, dragonflies, butterflies, horse flies, deer flies and other available flying insects depending on the region and seasonal fly hatches.

They are social birds. They greet each other gurgling and chattering and even visit each other’s nests.

Females lay three to five white eggs, which hatch after about two weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another three weeks.

Purple martins like groups of single houses and houses with as many as 30 rooms although they seem to prefer somewhere in between the two extremes. Two or three apartment buildings do nicely for large colonies.

Their popularity and reliance on martin houses has created one of the great North American Pastimes: attracting colonies of dozens of martins to apartment like birdhouses mounted high in wide open backyards.

Enticing colonies to occupy martin houses is so competitive enthusiasts utilize the latest research and tips – white paint to keep houses cool in the hot sun, room sizes, entrance hole sizes and protective entrance hole guards.

Painting of purple martins and a purple martin house.

Specially designed holes are shaped to deter intruders, railings protect the new born from falling, guards against crawling and flying predators reaching into the interior and more.

Martins need to be monitored for competitors. Mobs of English Sparrows sometimes drive the weaker colonies from their homes which is why Martin houses should contain several homes or multiple nest boxes should be mounted.

Colonies often just disappear because they are driven away by pests or because they are attracted to a nicer Martin house.

Rooms should be at least seven inches cubed and deeper, measured from the entrance, if raptors are a threat. Where owls are numerous door guards and extra deep rooms help prevent them from reaching into rooms. If a room is nine or ten inches deep, Martins will place the nest in the back furthest from the door. Paint houses white.

Martins need a lot of care. It’s a responsibility. Telescoping poles, door stops, starling resistant entrances and removable nest trays make the chores much easier. Easier means less likely to cause damage, quicker, safer, and reduced burden means the landlord is more likely to continue good responsible practice. Metal poles and pole guards help prevent predators from climbing poles.

Purple martins perched on high line wires.

Some people provide sticks, straw, mud and other materials for their martins. Some even improve nests built by young inexperienced parents making sure floors are covered.

If mites infest nests they will feed on the chicks blood – clean and replace the nests and you might be saving their lives. If an egg is broken, remove it to avoid unsanitary conditions.

About the middle of August, martins begin migrating in large flocks towards South America.

Map depicting dates when purple martins return from spring migration to specific areas.

With the return migration north, martins may arrive in southern U.S. as early as February and in Canada as late as May. See the map of general return arrival dates superimposed over the USGS Breeding Bird Survey map.

Opening up rooms too early in spring invites sparrow and starling mobs. Some martin houses come with door stops. Or they are easily made.

Owners of houses occupied by purple martin colonies learn from experience when it’s best to open the nesting boxes.

Most martins and their broods return to the colony they occupied, were raised in, or to another near by.

Males returning to formerly occupied homes immediately renew their claim.

The female selects the room and both female and male build the nest two or three weeks later.

Occasionally males fight over already claimed rooms. Although the first claim usually provides enough steadfastness to overcome intruders.

Those attempting to attract new colonies should watch for martins and open rooms after the first martin sighting.

Watch closely for English sparrows. Deal with the unwanted hoards immediately.

Painting of a purple martin on cedar roof shingles with its wing outstretched.

Don’t be discouraged if sparrow or starling nests need to be removed repeatedly. You will discourage them and you will win.

Unfinished Purple Martin House Design

The complete front facades of this unfinished purple martin house design are removable to make cleaning and maintenance easier.

The facades are inserted into place without the need for screws or other fasteners.

The drawings do not include dimensions. The design is unfinished.

Visit a Purple Martin House Post

No Purple Martin House Design

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Purple Martin

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Painting of purple martins flying around and perched on their house on a tower..

(House Martin)

Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Progne
Species: subis

La. passer sparrow, small bird
La. forma form, kind, species
La. hirundo a swallow

La. idae appearance, resemblance
La. subis a kind of bird

Gr. Prokne Mythological King Tereus, Philomela, and Prokne were turned into birds, a hoopoe, a nightingale, and a swallow.

Largest of the North American swallows, about eight inches long with a twelve inch wingspan.

 Dark steel-blue except for brownish black wings. Females are brownish above and grayish underneath. They have long thin speedy wings and a moderately forked tail.

Purple martins inhabit most of temperate North America and winter in South America.

Purple Martins inhabit most of temperate North America from Mexico throughout the eastern U.S., north to Newfoundland, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, in parts of the southwest and along the Pacific coast. They winter in northern South America and their return is an anticipated event for purple martin house enthusiasts.

Painting of a Purple Martin pair perched on tree twigs.

They build nests of twigs, leaves, grasses, feathers, odd rubbish and sometimes mud. They used to nest in natural or abandoned tree hollows and rock crevices.

Now most purple martins nest in the popular martin houses or other nest boxes and gourds.

There are rare reports of pairs or colonies nesting in their historical homes. A few have nested in cliff nooks, tree hollows and woodpecker holes, usually in the west.

Purple martins scatter out over the country catching flying insects in graceful almost falcon like flight, low in cooler, cloudy weather and higher on warm sunny days, each parent returning to feed their young about one hundred times between sunup and sundown.

They hunt for a variety of insects: usually moths, dragonflies, butterflies, horse flies, deer flies and other available flying insects depending on the region and seasonal fly hatches.

They are social birds. They greet each other gurgling and chattering and even visit each other’s nests.

Females lay three to five white eggs, which hatch after about two weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another three weeks.

Painting of purple martins and a purple martin house.

Purple martins like groups of single houses and houses with as many as 30 rooms although they seem to prefer somewhere in between the two extremes. Two or three apartment buildings do nicely for large colonies.

Their popularity and reliance on martin houses has created one of the great North American Pastimes: attracting colonies of dozens of martins to apartment like birdhouses mounted high in wide open backyards.

Enticing colonies to occupy martin houses is so competitive enthusiasts utilize the latest research and tips – white paint to keep houses cool in the hot sun, room sizes, entrance hole sizes and protective entrance hole guards.

Specially designed holes are shaped to deter intruders, railings protect the new born from falling, guards against crawling and flying predators reaching into the interior and more.

Martins need to be monitored for competitors. Mobs of English Sparrows sometimes drive the weaker colonies from their homes which is why Martin houses should contain several homes or multiple nest boxes should be mounted.

Colonies often just disappear because they are driven away by pests or because they are attracted to a nicer Martin house.

Purple martins perched on high line wires.

Rooms should be at least seven inches cubed and deeper, measured from the entrance, if raptors are a threat. Where owls are numerous door guards and extra deep rooms help prevent them from reaching into rooms. If a room is nine or ten inches deep, Martins will place the nest in the back furthest from the door. Paint houses white.

Martins need a lot of care. It’s a responsibility. Telescoping poles, door stops, starling resistant entrances and removable nest trays make the chores much easier.

Easier means less likely to cause damage, quicker, safer, and reduced burden means the landlord is more likely to continue good responsible practice. Metal poles and pole guards help prevent predators from climbing poles.

Some people provide sticks, straw, mud and other materials for their martins. Some even improve nests built by young inexperienced parents making sure floors are covered.

If mites infest nests they will feed on the chicks blood – clean and replace the nests and you might be saving their lives. If an egg is broken, remove it to avoid unsanitary conditions.

About the middle of August, martins begin migrating in large flocks towards South America.

Map depicting dates when purple martins return from spring migration to specific areas.

With the return migration north, martins may arrive in southern U.S. as early as February and in Canada as late as May. See the map of general return arrival dates superimposed over the USGS Breeding Bird Survey map.

Opening up rooms too early in spring invites sparrow and starling mobs. Some martin houses come with door stops. Or they are easily made.

Painting of a purple martin on cedar roof shingles with its wing outstretched.

Owners of houses occupied by purple martin colonies learn from experience when it’s best to open the nesting boxes.

Most martins and their broods return to the colony they occupied, were raised in, or to another near by.

Males returning to formerly occupied homes immediately renew their claim.

The female selects the room and both female and male build the nest two or three weeks later.

Occasionally males fight over already claimed rooms. Although the first claim usually provides enough steadfastness to overcome intruders.

Those attempting to attract new colonies should watch for martins and open rooms after the first martin sighting.

Watch closely for English sparrows. Deal with the unwanted hoards immediately.

No Purple Martin Design

The complete front facades of this unfinished purple martin house design are removable to make cleaning and maintenance easier.

The facades are inserted into place without the need for screws or other fasteners.

The drawings do not include dimensions. The design is unfinished.

Don’t be discouraged if sparrow or starling nests need to be removed repeatedly. You will discourage them and you will win.

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