Sign up for our FREE Email Newsletter

The Binocular Advisor

for Purple Martins

Purple martins used to nest in trees. But they've been using houses provided by people for hundreds or even thousands of years. Native Americans began a tradition that we're still enjoying.

Purple Martins and Native AmericansPurple martins started nesting in natural gourds hundreds or even thousands of years ago. (See How it Started.)

Many purple martin landlords believe that the shape of the gourds still appeals to the birds more strongly than any other type of martin house.

The way the gourds jiggle when touched by a predator such as an owl offers some protection. And competitors such as starlings may not like the gourds so well.

But natural gourds are expensive to buy and laborious to prepare. And it's hard to clean them out.

But now we have the SuperGourd.

Purple Martin HousingThe SuperGourd builds on everything the purple martins love about natural gourds and improves on them. (It was designed and developed by James R Hill, III, founder and Executive Director of the purple martin Conservation Association.)

It's the right shape. It's also roomy enough to allow the birds to rear a full brood of young with ease. And the young have all the room they need to stretch out. Those factors result in more nesting success for the purple martins.


A SuperGourd is a one-piece plastic gourd with a molded-in, threaded access port, covered by a screw-on cap.

The access port is large enough to admit a human hand that is holding a nestling or a handful of nesting material. The cap's liner renders it and the access port totally watertight and opaque. Landlords merely twist off the cap for nest checks, banding, nest replacements, or end-of-season clean outs.

The access port's high, 45-degree viewing angle allows easy viewing of nest contents during recommended weekly nest checks.


SuperGourds are blow-molded in white (sun-reflecting), opaque, high-density polyethylene plastic. They won't rot, peel, split, or crack out in the elements, and won't break if accidentally dropped like natural gourds can.

Because they are molded with ultraviolet inhibitors added to the plastic, they have a long life expectancy with virtually no maintenance other than giving a quick scrub at the end of the season.

Easy to Hang

SuperGourdSuperGourds can easily be hung underneath an existing martin house, from a gourd rack, or strung on a line between two poles. One set of 1/4" hanging holes (side-to-side) are pre-drilled and will accept a hanging wire; a set of front-to-back holes can easily be drilled by the purchaser if so desired.

The hanging holes are enlarged to 13/32" when ordered with the Deluxe Gourd Rack so the gourds can slide directly onto the steel arm.

Designed to Benefit Purple Martins

Landlords who use gourds know that they are highly attractive to martins (but are the least attractive of all martin housing to House Sparrows or starlings). Gourds also reduce the risk of owl predation.

SuperGourds have high occupancy rates, while reducing the incidence of fallouts and premature fledging.

Now, busy landlords can offer their martins all the advantages of properly-prepared gourds, without investing the time and effort required to grow natural gourds, adding access doors and canopies, or repainting them every year or so.

Landlord Friendly

SuperGourds are ready to hang right out of the box — there's no assembly required. A landlord only needs hanging wire unless using the Deluxe Gourd Rack. SuperGourds are low-to-no maintenance martin housing; no sanding or painting, and nothing to add except stick-on numbers. Everything a person needs to be a better landlord is already there.

The right size

Here is a nest really big enough for a family of purple martins. Research proves that purple martins raise more and healthier young in a compartment larger than 6" x 6" x 6" that many purple martins offer. With the 10" diameter of this new SuperGourd, the family has room to move around and if necessary, back out of the way of a potential predator's reach.

The right color

All the authorities agree that purple martin houses should be white or a very light pastel. The SuperGourd is manufactured in a white (sun reflecting), opaque, high-density polyethylene plastic, with ultraviolet inhibitors added for long life. The white reflects heat and helps keep the inhabitants cooler.

Since the color is molded right in, you never have to paint it.

The right shape

This one's easy. It's shaped like a gourd. The features are softly blended together giving a gentle transition of shape without any sharp edges or points for the adult birds, their young or the landlord to get hurt on.


SuperGourds come in two versions:

Round holes. Most people choose these if they don't have a problem with starlings, as it is sometimes easier to initially attract purple martins to round holes.

Crescent holes are harder for starlings to get into, and purple martins can still use them.



How to Succeed as a Purple Martin Landlord
How it all began
Deluxe Gourd Rack
When to Put up Purple Martin Housing


© 2008-2016 Diane Porter
Painting of Native Americans with purple martins © PMCA

Birdwatching Dot Com

More Birding Tips

Home FAQ Tips Birdbaths Stories DVDs Software Optics Bookstore Orders



Attract Purple Martins with their own Songs!

And let your colony LOOK convincing, too!

Need help
choosing binoculars?

The Binocular Advisor