Purple Martin Birdhouses – Single vs Multi Compartment

This gourd style nest setup provides some space between each nest, although you might want to spread them out a little more if you live west of the Rockies

Purple Martin “hotel” style multi-compartment houses are fantastic, but are they always the best choice?

Here’s a hint:

If you reside anywhere to the west of the Rockies, and particularly if you’ve not had success with those 6 or 12 room bird houses for Purple Martins, then instead install several single bird houses.

So a birdhouse with a single entry hole as opposed to those big ones that are designed to attract a nesting colony of Purple Martins.


Because the western Purple Martin subspecies is much more inclined to want space from their nesting neighbors.

This subspecies prefers their own individual nest at least several feet away from their nearest closest nesting pair.

So you can put up multiple single birdhouses a reasonable distance from each other if you live in the west, and there’s a very good chance this will result in the successful attracting of Purple Martins!

purple martin gourd style nests

While Purple Martins are known for their social behavior and love of communal nesting, west of the Rockies this species prefers to nest in single nests at least several feet away from the next Purple Martin nest!

So if you’re in the western states and you want to install a good number of single houses for Purple Martins in a spaced out colony arrangement, something very simple and easy to clean like this ready to mount plastic gourd is basic, yet really all that’s needed if you want to keep things simple.

Typical communal Martin birdhouses are larger than traditional birdhouses and can accommodate several families of Purple Martins nesting very close to each other.

They are often made of wood or plastic and feature multiple compartments for the birds to nest in in a hotel or apartment style design.

Whether singular or communal, Purple Martin birdhouses can be mounted on a pole, hung from a tree, or attached to the side of a building.

Then there’s the material to consider:

Wooden houses are a popular choice because they are durable and provide good insulation for the birds.

But plastic birdhouses are often easier to clean and maintain, even if they don’t have that same natural aesthetic appeal as a traditional wood house.