Purple Martins are members of the swallow family who come to the United States to breed in the spring and summer, and spend their winters down in South America. They're reported by many websites (and birdhouse manufacturers) to love to eat mosquitoes, but reliable scientific sources tell me that mosquitoes only make up approximately 3% of their diet. However, their diet consists primarily of flying insects, including leaf-footed stink bugs, so I'm happy to have them around. According to the Houston Audubon, male 'scouts' come to Houston in mid to late January looking for suitable nesting sites. We're a little late, but maybe we'll get lucky and some late arrivals will decide to move in.
We brought the birdhouse home, and knowing how difficult it can be to assemble things with a three-year-old's help, I waited until he was taking his nap to put it together. Aside from a little trouble getting some of the pieces to fit just right, it was pretty easy to assemble. The house is a lightweight plastic, 12 room house, complete with little safety rails to keep hatch-lings from falling out, and hinged sides that flip up for easy cleaning. I set the base of the pole in concrete in the most open remaining area of the backyard, let it cure overnight, and then set up the birdhouse at a height of about 14 feet. This affords us a nice view of the birdhouse from our bathroom window, which should make it easy for the boys to watch the birds without scaring them. With any luck, the Purple Martins will make themselves right at home.