How to Build a Purple Martin House Out of Gourds


Purple martins are amazing little birds to watch. They flash around like little mini jet planes, darting and wheeling in the air at tremendous speeds. Their iridescent purple sheen is beautiful to behold. These tiny birds are not only attractive and interesting. They are also beneficial, eating insect pests. Drawing purple martins to your yard can be relatively easy and inexpensive, using simple garden gourds to build homes for them. The house should be located as far from trees, buildings and other obstructions as possible, to allow a good flight path for the birds. Cared for properly, a purple martin house using gourds can last for decades.

Preparing the Stand

Step 1

Drill a 3/4-inch hole through the side of the 3-inch diameter pole, about 3 inches from the end. Drill another hole about 3 inches down from and perpendicular to the other hole. Drill another hole 18 inches down and parallel to the first hole. Drill a final hole 3 more inches down parallel to the second hole.

Step 2

Insert the 4 foot, 3/4-inch dowels into the holes so that each dowel is centered. Glue the dowels in place with carpenter's glue and allow it to dry thoroughly.

Step 3

Paint the pole and the dowels with a white exterior latex paint. Allow them to dry and repeat with a second coat.

Preparing the Gourds

Step 1

Drill a hole in the side of the gourd with the 2-inch circle saw. Drill 4 or 5 1/4 inch drain holes in the bottom of the gourd. Drill another 1/4 inch hole in the top of the gourd for the cord that the gourd will hang from.

Step 2

Carefully remove the contents of the gourd and clean the inside out with a metal teaspoon. Thread the cord through the hole and knot it on the inside of the gourd.

Step 3

Sand the outside of the gourd and apply two coats of exterior latex paint.

Step 4

Repeat these steps for all 16 gourds.


Step 1

Tie the gourds to the dowels, two per each side of each dowel, one at the end and one in the middle of the dowel.

Step 2

Dig a hole in the location you wish to erect the martin house 2 1/2 feet deep with the post hole digger. Insert the 3 1/2-inch diameter PVC pipe. Back fill around the pipe with dirt.

Step 3

Stand the martin house up and insert the downward end of the pole into the pipe. Turn the pole to orient the gourds.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric drill with 3/4-inch and 1/4-inch bit and 2-inch hole saw bit
  • 15-foot length of 3-inch diameter wooden pole
  • 4 4-foot, 3/4 inch dowels
  • 16 large dried garden gourds
  • Medium-gauge nylon cord
  • White, glossy, exterior house paint
  • Paint brush
  • 3-foot length, 3 1/2-inch PVC pipe
  • Post hole digger
  • Small spoon
  • 200 grit sandpaper


  • Purple Martin Conservation Association: Gourd Homes for Martins
  • Amish Gourds: Making Natural Gourds into Purple Martin Houses
Keywords: purple martin home gourds, purple martin house, purple martin natural gourds

About this Author

Located in Jacksonville, Fla, Frank Whittemore has been a writer and content strategist for over 15 years, providing corporate communications services to Fortune 500 companies. Whittemore writes on topics that stem from his fascination with nature, the environment, science, medicine and technology.