Having a successful purple martin colony in your purple martin house may take some work, but it will provide you with an educational and enjoyable experience!

House placement

Purple martin houses need to be in open areas, such as backyards, meadows, fields and near ponds and lakes. The houses should be placed a minimum of 30 to 40 feet from large trees or buildings.

When installing your purple martin house, place it on a pole so it is 12 to 20 feet above the ground. You should allow for extra open space if surrounding trees are taller than your placement height.

Purple martins' competitors

House sparrows and starlings will compete aggressively with purple martins for nesting sites. Repeated nest removal or trapping of house sparrows and starlings may be necessary to make the houses available to martins.

It is recommended that you install a pole-mounted predator guard cone to prevent climbing predators like cats, snakes and raccoons from raiding the colony.


Purple martin houses should be cleaned out every fall. Around late September, lower the house, clean out the old nests and wash with soap and water. Then, store the house for the winter or plug the cavities to prevent competitors from entering. Have your house ready for occupancy by early to mid-April.


View a blueprint for a purple martin house.

WEC Energy Group