It seems like in today’s age of instant access to information that everywhere you look the same purple martin information is regurgitated at you. Not to say that the information is incorrect. The guidelines outlined by the PMCA and even our site, is generally the best information. But sometimes even the best advice is a long way off from the realities of a world full of variables.
What do we always preach? Housing should be 10 feet, 12 feet up…if not more. No trees within 30 feet. EVERYONE knows that!
I could go on, but you get the point. Purple martins are not always the most cooperative of guests. We build, we buy, we plan, we modify, and then modify some more and they taunt us. They refuse to comply with our pleading, and land on our housing to sing a little chortle then off they go…and we wait another season. But one thing that I have learned from purple martins is that their drive to nest is all encompassing. They may not decide on your housing, but they are nesting somewhere. Oftentimes where they decide to nest can be the biggest slap in the face.
Some people are surprised when they see some of the places that martins decide to nest. Sometimes where they decide to nest flies in the face of everything we teach.
So I introduce to you, the shepherd’s hook martins. I am not claiming exclusivity to this idea. Only a platform to showcase how some positive factors can over-ride other negative factors. OR just maybe, how a tradition shift occurs.
SO, martins can be had in any number of ways. The best way still is to follow PMCA recomendtions (as we do at PurpleMartins-R-Us.com) lest you waste another season. Getting a purple martin to nest in something so against what is normal for them, is still very much a crap shoot. So save your time and follow the rules!
The purple martins showcased in these pictures were housed in gourds hanging off an assortment of shepherds hooks about 4-5 feet above the ground. Some had predator guards, some did not. All successfully fledged young except for 2 nests in the summer of 2012 which was exceptionally hard here due to drought conditions. The shepherd hook gourds were up from 2009 till 2013. We hung as little as 1 gourd (the first year) and as many as 6 gourds off these hooks. All were hung within 15 to 30 feet of a colony of 2 gourd racks and a MPP pole with 2 aluminum houses (a total of between 24 in 2009, to 44 compartments in 2013)