How to Attract Purple Martins to your Yard (Expert Tips)

In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of attracting Purple Martins to your yard. We’ll cover everything from how to identification, range, habitat, foods they prefer to eat, and a few tips on getting them to come back next year. 


The Purple Martin is recognizable by its iridescent blue-purple coloring, with dark brown wings and tail. Females and immature birds are duller, with some gray on the head and chest with white belly. 

  • Length: 7.1-8.1 in (18-20.5 cm)
  • Weight: 1.6-2.1 oz (44-61 g)
  • Wingspan: 15.0-16.5 in (38-42 cm)


Purple Martins can be found throughout North and South America in meadows, farmland, fields, and backyards. They start their breeding season in North America and work their way down to South American countries.

In the winter they make their way down south and can be seen in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia as well as many other countries.


Purple Martins inhabit open habitats near water sources like lakes, rivers, and coastlines, where they feed on aquatic insects. The martin nests under bridges or overhangs that offer shelter from predators as well as rain protection for their mud-made nests made out of hair collected from cows or horses

When to Attract Purple Martins

Purple Martins are a migratory bird that arrives in the United States each year from South America to nest. They arrive in late April or early May and depart by September or October. 

Image by JudaM from Pixabay

Food that Attract Purple Martins

It is also important to keep in mind that the Purple Martin does not eat birdseed. They prefer to eat and consume small flying insects.

However, if you do find any insects that are too large for them, they may not be suitable for them because they will end up getting a digestive problem. Insects that the Purple Martins eat can be found almost everywhere. I always find the easiest way to get them to your backyard, is to use a squirrel-proof suet feeder with insect suet cakes.

Some insects include moths, beetles, flies, mosquitoes, roaches, silverfish, bedbugs, and even carpenter ants.  However, keep in mind that insects are going to be the ones that you are going to be feeding in the long run so it’s best to have a few choices so that you don’t have to be limited in your feeding efforts.

Use a Birdbath

It is a little known fact that purple martins are attracted to water. They need fresh water in order to drink and bathe. There are several ways you can attract these beautiful birds to your yard or garden.

One way is by getting a birdbath specifically for them, which includes adding stones and other natural materials around it, so they have somewhere to perch while they drink and bathes themselves. You can also place bowls of clean water at different points in your yard, as well as the height of your birdbath. One birdbath that I find works great is the Vivosun Birdbath. I found it for a decent price on Amazon.

Tip: Purple martins have a preference for different points in your yard, as well as the height of your birdbath. One way to determine what they like is to try moving it around and see where they go first, usually this will be their favorite spot!

Get a Birdhouse

If you’ve got a birdhouse, or you plan on purchasing one, make sure that the birdhouse is large, and has perches.

You’ll want to place your birdhouses at a level spot that is away from trees or buildings. This will help keep the birdhouse free from debris and it will provide them with plenty of space for feeding.

The best location for birdhouses is 40 – 50 feet from any trees and approximately 40 – 100 feet from any structures such as homes, buildings, etc. This is a great way to attract them because they like to feel safe.

The type of material that you choose for your birdhouse should be aluminum or stainless steel construction, because of its weather-resistant qualities.

When selecting a color for your birdhouse, make sure that it is white. Purple Martins are attracted to white colored bird houses. One model that is very high-quality and is built to last, is the Bird’s Choice Purple Martin birdhouse. I found this one on Amazon for a good price.

Plant Trees & Shrubs

Purple martins are a migratory bird that is often seen in the summertime around houses and other buildings. They use trees and shrubs to perch, build nests, or feed on insects attracted by these plants. The following list includes some of the more popular tree and shrub species that attract purple martins:


  • Cedar elm
  • Catalpa
  • American holly
  • Tulip Poplar
  • Kentucky’s Coffee Tree
  • Norway Spruce
  • chokecherry
  • Black cherry


  • Sumac
  • Russian olive
  • Japanese honeysuckle
  • Lilac
  • Service berry
  • Elderberry
  • Dogwood
  • Black locust

Plant Flowers

For those who want to attract purple martins to their yards, there are some flowers that will do the trick. Purple martins love these flowers and will come back every year for them. 

  • Roses
  • Carnations
  • Pansies
  • Foxglove
  • Tulips
  • Petunias
  • Hollyhocks
  • Cosmos
  • Calendula
  • Verbena
  • Marigolds
  • Zinnias
  • Asters
  • Coreopsis

Common Predators

Make sure you follow the above steps when creating the perfect habitat in your yard. The location or spot you use is very important, and this will help to avoid putting the birds in danger. The Purple Martin is known to have few predators such as raccoons, squirrels, snakes, owls, and even hawks.

More Tips

  • Choose an open area (At least 40 feet away from structures, trees and homes).
  • Place Birdhouse on poles at least 10 feet or higher if possible.
  • Choose a place that is close to access to running water (small ponds, lakes, water fountains, birdbaths).
  • Use a Birdhouse that is stainless steel.
  • Paint the birdhouse white. They are enticed easily with the color white.
  • Provide perches on and around the birdhouse for them.
  • Install collars or cones on the birdhouse pole to deter predators.

Frequently Asked Questions

What color attract Purple Martins?

To attract purple martins, homeowners should consider buying white birdhouses. Purple martins will nest in structures that are painted white.

Do Purple Martins eat wasps?

Purple Martins eat insects to survive, but do they also eat wasps? The answer is yes! There have been many sightings of purple martins eating yellow jackets and paper wasps.

What color are Purple Martin eggs?

The color of purple martin eggs is dull white. These birds like to make nests out of mud and sticks on man-made structures such as buildings or bridges. The female will lay between 4 and 6 eggs with an incubation period lasting 15-16 days, which hatch over 2 or 3 days.

What month do Purple Martins nest?

They typically nest from April to early May, depending on their location. In some areas, purple martins can be seen as early as March and may stay until September or October. April is the typical nesting time for these birds because it is when trees have leaves and insects start appearing more frequently than they do during winter months.

Do Purple Martins mate for life?

Purple martins are monogamous, meaning they usually only have one mate during their lifetime. These birds have an extensive mating ritual and the male will perform courtship displays as well as vocalizations in order to impress his potential partner.