Purple martin birds nest almost exclusively in man-made structures. Attract the beautiful creatures to your yard with these natural gourd birdhouses from purple martin expert Larry Melcher.
Resources: Dried gourds available from Amish Gourds. Tunnel entrances are from Sandy Bunn. High-quality gourd racks, poles, and accessories available from Purple Martin Products. Parts and complete purple martin gourd racks and houses can be purchased through the Purple Martin Conservation Association's Martin Market Place. Naturline gourds available from Jerry's Gourds. All other tools and materials are available at The Home Depot.
- For birdhouse: Large gourd
- Scouring pad
- Warm water
- Purple martin access port, homemade (see directions below) or purchased
- Purple martin entrance tunnel
- Medium-coarse half-round file
- 7/8-inch hole saw bit
- 3/8-inch drill bit
- 7/8-inch 90-degree PVC elbow
- 3/8-inch rubber hose
- PPCA (premium polyurethane construction adhesive)
- Pre-nesting material, such as dried pine needles
- White latex exterior house paint and paintbrush (optional)
- Copper wire
- For access port: 4-inch thin-wall white PVC sewer pipe
- Lid from large 2-gallon plastic jar (most often found at restaurants)
- Drill with 1/16-inch drill bit
- Small pieces of electric copper wire
Dry gourd over winter. To test dryness, shake gourd; the seeds within a fully dried gourd will rattle. Use a scouring pad and warm water to remove mold and dirt from outside of gourd. Alternatively, purchase a dried gourd.
With a pencil, trace diameter of access port onto what will be the side of the gourd birdhouse; trace the diameter of the entrance tunnel onto the intended front. Use a jigsaw to cut along lines and create access and entrance holes. File edges of holes to ensure the port and entrance tunnel fit properly.
Drill a vent hole in the top back of the gourd (near the middle of the neck) with a 7/8-inch hole saw bit. With a 3/8-inch drill bit, drill through the neck at about the same height, from one side to the other, to create hanging holes.
Twist a 7/8-inch 90-degree PVC elbow into vent hole so that exposed pipe faces down. Feed a few inches of rubber hose through hanging holes in neck. File holes, if necessary, to make hose fit.
Glue access port and entrance tunnel into holes with polyurethane construction adhesive. Let adhesive dry completely.
Remove lid to access port and add pre-nesting material, such as dried pine needles.
Paint entire birdhouse white, if desired. Feed an 18-inch length of copper wire through hose in neck to hang.
Cut a 1 1/2-inch-long piece of sewer pipe. Drill two sets of two holes, one inch apart, between the threads on inside of lid. Picturing the lid as a clock, these sets of holes would be at 12 and 6 o'clock.
Place lid on PVC pipe. Drill through the lid holes into the pipe. Thread a piece of copper wire through each set of holes, bending like a staple to hold lid on. The access port is now ready to glue into the birdhouse gourd.