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Purple martin houses typically have many rooms and are often painted white. (Photo: LagunaticPhoto/Shutterstock)

Some birds are happy to make their nests anywhere. A sturdy tree branch, gutter or any birdhouse works just fine. But flashy purple martins like snazzy accommodations. You often see their multi-room homes perched high in the sky, as the colorful residents flit in and out.

Here''ll find old woodpecker holes or spots in trees. Sometimes they''ll find holes in giant cactuses.

Although some purple martins in the eastern U.S. nest in holes in buildings or cliffs, tree habitat is limited and competition is fierce from other birds. That''re now the only bird species entirely dependent on humans for supplying them with a place to nest, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.

They like crowded living

Purple martins can nest in colonies for 1 last update 2020/06/02 of two to 200 pairs. (Photo: passion4nature/Shutterstock) Purple martins can nest in colonies of two to 200 pairs. (Photo: passion4nature/Shutterstock)

Purple martins are known as colonial nesters, which means they like to nest in groups. The Purple Martin Conservation Association says a purple martin house should have at least four compartments, but six to 12 compartments is ideal to start a martin colony.

The compartments in the houses should be at least 6 inches by 6 inches, but purple martins prefer larger cavities, says the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. An ideal size is 7 inches wide by 6 inches high and about 12 inches deep. Circular entrance holes to each compartment are usually around 2 1/8 inches in diameter, but a range between 1 3/4 and 3/8 inches is acceptable.

Purple martins can nest in colonies of two to 200 pairs, according to Birdwatching.com, so that''t attach them to a tree because predators, like cats or raccoons, could access the nest.

Martins prefer to glide right into their homes so their nests should be in an open area where they can sail straight into the opening without having to stop.

Birdwatching.com says they don''s because white reflects heat, keeping the house (and the nestlings) cooler.

The birds also seem to be attracted to white houses. It might be because the entrance holes are dark, making them easier to spot against the white house. Other purple martins also show up more easily against a white background, making the home easier to find by other martins looking for the home.

The gourd option

A collection of gourds offers purple martins lots of rooming choices. (Photo: Sergey Demo SVDPhoto/Shutterstock)

Native Americans hung up hollowed-out gourds for purple martins centuries ago, reports Cornell. Many people use natural or plastic gourds to attract purple martins today.

Ideally, gourds should be 8 to 13 inches in diameter with an unpainted interior. They should have access doors with the same size entrances as conventional martin houses. They also should be painted white and ideally have baffles and guards to protect from predators.

Although gourds can be harder to clean than traditional birdhouses, they have many advantages. They are lighter weight, so they are easier to raise and lower. They also swing and sway, which martins like and predators don''s no continuous porch, older nestlings can''s rooms to steal food from younger birds.

Mary Jo DiLonardo covers a wide range of topics focused on nature, health, science and anything that helps make the world a better place.

Related topics: Birds
Why do purple martins have such big houses?
Purple martins love tall, condo-style houses that can host a crowd.

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