It's Purple Martin Time!

I can never think of this slogan without thinking about my sister, Tammi.  When she was in third grade, she wore a button in her school picture that said, "It's Purple Martin Time" that she must have received from a guest speaker at school.  She certainly didn't leave our house with it on!  It makes me chuckle every time this time of year comes around.

In our area, the scout birds of the purple martins are out looking for suitable housing for their families.  Purple martins only use the housing while they are raising families.  It is important to get the houses cleaned and ready to go for when the scouts are out and about.  Migration Map

There is a lot of thought that goes into purple martin housing.  We have always been lucky enough to have the housing already on location for us.  We don't have a housing unit now, but there is one across the street from us.  I like to make sure that the housing is clean and in good order by this time of the year.

Why my interest in purple martins?  Other than my sister's apparent love of the bird, Bob's uncle Amos (Steffes) loved purple martins.  He believed they kept the mosquito population down (which is why I love them) and they are a very social bird.  Amos was so funny about his purple martins and was always so interested in them that we became interested as well.

So, clean your purple martin houses!  Pull down the house unit.  Scrape off any bird dodo.  Mix up a 10% bleach and 90% water in a bucket.  Scrub the inside of the house with the bleach and then rinse it out with the house.  Let the house dry in the sun.  Amos used to plug up the holes until he saw the martins come around, then he'd lower the housing and undo the plugs.  Other birds will try to move it if you don't.  Then enjoy those feisty birds as they eat up all the mosquitoes in your yard!

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Terri Steffes
Terri Steffes

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