The Best Purple Martin Houses and Gourds
Information about the Best Purple Martin Houses and Purple Martin Gourds brought to you by
S&K Manufacturing, Inc.        1001 Liberty Industrial Dr.      O'Fallon  MO  63367      1-800-764-8688


Purple Martins Accommodations by S&K MFG, Inc.

Purple Martin Fledgling

Adult Purple Martins


For the Do-It-YourSelfer,
S&K Manufacturing has Free Purple Martin House Plans  at feel free to visit and let us know how they work for you. Thanks and Take Care of Your Martins.

History Locating Housing Martin Enemies Keeping Colony Final Thoughts S&K Purple Martin Houses / Gourds/ Racks & Misc. Links of Interest

You and many others today share your love of the martin with many past generations of people who have lived on this continent. S&K Manufacturing has the latest in technology and innovation in purple martin housing, we want to improve your chances of attracting this magnificent bird, with some background on purple martins and their present day requirements.


The purple martin’s association with man goes back many years to the days when Native Americans hung gourds out for them. People later started erecting wooden, multi-compartment units in hopes of attracting this wonderful bird, and eventually martin houses made of other materials and plastic gourds began to be manufactured. Over the years martins in the entire section of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains have become totally dependent on man for nesting sites. Since the fate of these beautiful birds is now in our hands, it is extremely important that we provide adequate housing in which they can raise their young, and also that we can properly manage it.


Often people with good intentions purchase a martin house or gourds, wanting to attract this bird, but they aren’t adequately prepared to be responsible landlords. You should be aware of some facts to better your chances of being successful. One important piece of knowledge is that the martin has natural predators, such as owls, hawks, snakes, and raccoons; predator guards can be obtained for use on the housing to help prevent them from killing the martins. You should also erect your housing in the most open area available. Martins will not inhabit a house placed under a tree because of the threat of owls, hawks, and other possible predators. It is recommended that the housing be at least 40-60 feet from any trees taller than the housing. Martins feel a sense of protection being close to people, so place your housing close to human dwellings in a place that offers adequate open area with enough room and time for them to be able to flee when they see aerial predators.


European Starlings

English House Sparrow

Not only does the martin have these food-seeking predators to watch out for, it also has to contend with two enemies that aren’t even out looking for a meal but are just trying to steal the nesting sites from the martins. The two birds that have been most detrimental to the existence of the martin are the European starling and the English house sparrow.

Unlike the purple martin, which is native to North America, both starlings and house sparrows are species that were introduced to North America. Some pairs of each were brought over to the United States from England in the late 1800’s, and their numbers have increased dramatically ever since. At the same time the martin population, like that of other native cavity-nesting birds here, has drastically decreased. This is not a coincidence; the declining numbers of our native bird species are directly related to the population explosion of the European starling and the English house sparrow. Note: The English house “sparrow” is not really a sparrow at all; it’s actually a weaver finch.

Each fall the purple martin migrates to South America and returns to the United States and Canada the following spring. Starlings and house sparrows, on the other hand, stay in their territory year-round. As if the arduous flight back from South America doesn’t already take a big enough toll on the martins, upon their return in the spring, they often find that much of the existing housing has already been claimed by these two foreign species and are usually forced to try to find a nesting site elsewhere. Even if a martin pair does manage to find an empty cavity in which to raise a family and is fortunate enough to reach the egg-laying stage, the martins’ efforts oftentimes end in failure because of the presence of their two bird enemies.

If starlings have already taken over a martin house, they will chase off any investigating martins. If martins are able to start nesting before any starlings show up at the colony, that doesn’t mean that the starlings will leave the martins alone. When the martin pair is out foraging for insects, starlings will enter the cavity and destroy any eggs or nestlings found there. Upon their return, the martins will be chased off by the starlings. If a starling can trap an adult martin inside the compartment, the martin doesn’t stand a chance against the sharp, powerful beak of its adversary. The starling will inflict mortal wounds on the martin. Once the starlings have the martins out of the way, they will proceed to build a nest, sometimes right on top of the eggs or young, and use the cavity to raise their own brood.

European starlings are deadly enemies of the purple martin, but English house sparrows can wreak their own havoc on a martin colony. They also investigate a martin colony intent on propagating their kind and will fill nesting compartments so full of nesting materials that martins will be unable to enter them. Very often the owner/landlord of a colony may see both martins and sparrows nesting in a martin house and be under the mistaken assumption that the two species are co-existing peacefully. Reality, though, is that the sparrows will go from compartment to compartment pecking holes in the eggs of the nesting martin pairs. This accomplishes the sparrows’ goal, which is to prevent the martins from raising young, thereby reducing their future competition. Martins will abandon the colony after that, because it wouldn’t be in their best interest to stay at a site where they had nest failure. Unfortunately, starlings and house sparrows don’t limit their aggression solely to martins but direct it toward all of our other native cavity-nesting birds as well.


What can you as a martin landlord do to prevent this destruction from occurring at your martin colony? The key to getting and keeping a successful martin colony is to manage it properly. Since we at S&K Manufacturing, Inc. are concerned about the future of the purple martin, we have designed our new line of housing to help you successfully manage a martin colony. Our sturdy poles allow for lowering of the housing and therefore easy inspection to monitor the progress of each martin family and ensure that all is going well. The newly enlarged compartments in the house and larger size of the gourds promote better breeding success of the martins; they tend to raise more babies when provided with roomier nesting cavities.

In addition to the improvements already mentioned, another new feature is the crescent-shaped entrance holes that keep out virtually all starlings. In very rare instances, a starling that is smaller than normal might be able to enter the cavities; however, this is by far the exception. Although the entrance holes will prevent all or mostly all starlings from entering the cavities meant for martins, they will not deter house sparrows; this is because of the smaller size of these birds. A responsible martin colony manager, however, can and should be vigilant about keeping them out of the housing. No bird except purple martins should be allowed in the martin house/gourds. Martins, in all likelihood, will not nest in housing in which another species has already established its territory; the martins will be chased off by the other birds. If you notice any birds other than martins trying to lay claim to the housing, plug up the holes if you don’t yet have martins and force the birds to go elsewhere. If they are native birds like Bluebirds and Tree Swallows, put up separate housing for them. But you should never allow house sparrows or starlings to get started building nests in houses or gourds that are much needed by the purple martin, whose population has dwindled in the past century. Law protects the purple martin, being native to this continent, but not the English house sparrow and European starling. It is perfectly legal to trap and/or shoot them. Most birding societies and wildlife federations promote these actions because starlings and house sparrows are taking a devastating toll on our native-cavity nesting birds. Most people just simply are not aware of what damage these two non-native species are doing to our native cavity-nesting birds and ecosystem.


As you can see by now, there is more to being a successful martin landlord than merely buying a house and/or gourds, putting them up and letting nature take its course. Your interest in Purple Martins already demonstrates your desire to attract purple martins. We have provided you with the latest in housing design and web site links to help you accomplish your goal of having a healthy and thriving purple martin colony that will last for years. It is our recommendation that your next step be to use available resources such as the internet or recent editions of books on this bird. Knowledge goes a long way toward attracting purple martins and having them return to your location year after year. Reading about them and sharing your hobby with others will tremendously help the purple martin in its fight for survival. Our best wishes in your endeavors, S&K Manufacturing, Inc.

This information is brought to you by S&K Manufacturing

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For the Purple Martin Enthusiast

for Song Bird Enthusiast

Here are a few of S&K Manufacturing, Inc.'s Products.
  Click on the images below or on the Shop icon to enter S&K Mfg's Online Store:

The Best Purple Martin House
12 Family

Purple Martin House
16 Family

Bo Bungalow Purple Martin House
6 Family

Purple Martin House
16 Family John Deere

Sold thru local
 John Deere Stores only

The American Barn
Purple Martin House
12 Family

Used with the New RP19 Pole

They Have Arrived
S&K Manufacturing, Inc Brings you the Most
 Innovative Gourds that Challenge Mother
The Bo Nine and the Bo Eleven Plus
    The Bo Nine              The Bo Eleven Plus

Click on each of the gourds to learn more about the great options that come with these new gourds.


Purple Martin House
Abare Apartment

The Abare Apartment is a house under development

Purple Martin House
Bo Villas

Purple Martin Gourds
Bo Gourd, Big Bo Gourd , & Double Gourd

Gourd Racks for the Tri/Quad Poles

S&K Manufacturing Welcomes any Suggestions that will Benefit the Purple Martins as they enjoy their Summer in North America

S&K also offers Combos for ease of ordering and to insure
 you order everything you need for your Martin's:


Gourd & Feeder Rack
Works & Looks Great

Martin Bird House
S&K Manufacturing, Inc Purple Martin Houses are constructed of 100% UV Protected Injected Molded Polypropylene Copolymer Plastic.  Our Roofs have gutters.  Our Floors are sloped for drainage and our houses also come with Guard Rails.  All our compartments are Ventilated .  The doors are hinged for easy cleaning and have a Limited lifetime Warranty when purchased with our Quad-Tel Pole.

*F R E E  S H I P P I N G On Orders Over $79.99*  *F R E E  S H I P P I N G On Orders Over $79.99 *

Just one Purple Martin can consume up to 2,000 flying insects per day. Imagine what a family of Purple Martins can do!  While diminishing the flying insect population, martins are simply a joy to watch!  The Best way to attract these beautiful birds is The Best Purple Martin House, by S&K Manufacturing.  Each Best Purple Martin House is built to exact specifications - with the goal of attracting Purple Martins.


24 & 28 Family Martin House
Your House can expand to any number of Floors!
(This includes THE BARN!!)
Fund Raisers  
Raise funds for a Special Event
Watch the Doors Open Puple Martin House Pictures with Martins
Instruction Information  Acrobat Reader Needed Purple Martin Brochure
1001 Liberty Industrial Dr     O'Fallon, MO 63366    
Toll-Free:  1-800-764-8688     FAX:  (636) 272-4044 
Information Pages on Our Products which include Additional Images and Descriptions are listed below

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