Purple Martin Gourds
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How to Turn a Gourd into a Bird House for the Purple Martin (or other birds):
- Soak the gourds in a pail of hot soapy water for 20 - 30 minutes. Then using a metal "scrubby," clean the gourd, scraping the gourd until it is perfectly clean. The gourd may have discolorations that will not be scraped off. These spots are normal and will be covered up later.
- Dry the gourd completely. Select a gourd for your birdhouse that has a diameter of at least 8" and preferably no larger than 14".
- Drill a 2 1/8" hole for the entrance on the side of the gourd. As you drill into the gourd, make sure that the gourd's walls are at least ¼" thick. If the walls are thinner, the house may get too hot for the martins. If the walls are too thin, use this gourd for another use and start over with a new gourd.
- Drill small holes in the bottom of the gourd for drainage.
- Scrape out the seeds and membrane from inside the gourd. If you pour some water into the gourd before cleaning it out, you'll reduce the dust that can irritate some people's eyes.
- To preserve the gourd, mix together copper sulfate in 5 gallons of warm water. Copper sulfate is found in hardware stores and home centers as a root killer in the plumbing section of the store. Check the labels of the products to find it. Protect your hands with rubber gloves. Soak the gourds in the mixture for about 15 minutes. Let dry completely. It may take the gourds several days to become perfectly dry.
- Paint the outside of the gourds with white house paint (use non-toxic paint only!). Check the drainage holes to make sure the paint did not clog them. White paint seems to attract Purple Martins the best.
- Drill a hole through the top of the neck of the gourd and attach a piece of thick wire through the holes, twisting the wire together at the top to make a hanger for the birdhouse.
- Hang a colony of these martin houses together since they prefer to nest together in colonies.
- If you have smaller gourds, you can certainly use them as houses for other birds. If you wish other birds than martins and wrens to nest, mount the birdhouse to a pole so it does not swing in the breeze.
- For beautiful purple martin houses available for purchase, please go here - also contains parts (doors, etc.) for building your own!
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