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A Bird's Home

Plans For A

Purple Martin Gourd Rack

The picture you see above is a gourd rack that I designed in order to make it easier for me to perform maintenance on my gourds plus, allow me to do nest checks on my martins while they are nesting and raising young.
If you've investigated the Purple Martin Housing Industry and decided that a commercially purchased house wasn't what you were looking for, then maybe this might.  This is something a little different.  I designed this rack to be light, easy to work with and in just about anybody's' price range.  It's easy to build with only the most basic of power tools, (drill and jigsaw) and I made the drawings so that just about anybody can read and understand them.  And, best of all, it will attract purple martins.  Want proof...

Before we get into raising purple martins in gourds, if you are not totally familiar with the rules for attracting and keeping purple martins, and if you have not already done so, I suggest you take a look at my purple martin page. It has a lot more details about martins that are not on this page and may answer a few questions that you might have about keeping them.  Please read all the info about proper placement of housing and the tips that will help to attract them.

The system you see above is one of two in my yard near my home. I developed it because for years I tried to attract martins to my martin 'house' without success. They came, but never stayed. Then, I put up some gourds and I had martins move in the first year. The gourds happened to be on a 'T' shaped pole that did not come down easily and therefore, maintenance was a very big problem. I couldn't get at the gourds to take care of them. I even had some sparrows move into one of the other gourds, and I couldn't easily get to them to remove them. There just had to be a better way. So, I went into my wood shop, sat down in the doorway and watched the birds and looked at the pole and thought about it. If I couldn't get up the pole to get to the gourds, why not bring the gourds down to me. With that in mind, I thought about a system where I could mount my gourds and yet, get at them easily to perform maintenance on them. At the same time I wanted them to be aesthetically appealing. Thus, my slide system for my Martin Pole you see above.

Now I didn't come up with the idea of putting up gourds. I also didn't come up with the idea of raising and lowering them. I just refined it so that the maintenance of the unit is quick and easy, while at the same time, low cost and attractive. The unit is also easily accessible from any direction for the martins which is a big plus. The system is lightweight, but strong and will mount 16 gourds on a steel pole.  It's very lightweight and very easy to care for.  Everything to make the unit is readily available in your local lumber yard and hardware store, except the gourds, and they are usually available with a little inquiring around. When you do order some, purchase a few extra, sometimes they need replacing and it's always good to have a few extras around. If you really get into it, and you have the room, you can keep a few seeds and grow them. As far as tools required to build the unit, all you will need is everyday hand tools the average person keeps around the house such as a jigsaw, drill and pliers.

My units sit in my yard beside my house and cost me around $90.00 each to build and set up. That was complete including the paint.  That cost may vary depending on the area where you live, the price of the materials for that area, and the amount of work you want to put into it.. I believe this cost is within the range of just about anyone who would be interested in attracting these delightful birds. And once you finally do get a colony started, it will be worth every minute of work and every penny you spent to just sit back and watch them as they effortlessly float through the air eating insects and thus making life a little better for you.

If you want one, you can build one.

What I've done is put together a small drawing packet that explains all you need to know to build a Purple Martin slide system and mount it on a pole and start your own colony. All the instructions required to build and erect one of these units is contained in the packet.

It includes a complete itemized list of materials, drawings and assembly procedures for assembling the entire unit, instructions how to put the pole up and how to attach the slide and gourds to it. There's even a few maintenance tips for the pole, gourds and wooden parts.

If you like the way this system looks and you're interested in building one, there are two ways to get the plans.  

You can send $12.00 to the address listed below and I'll send you the packet.  I supply the envelope and postage.  Please add a note stating that you want Rack plans since I also sell house plans and need to know which is requested.


Chuck Abare
7040 Barker Rd
Athens, Al, 35614


Please include:

·         Shipping Address

·         Phone Number

        ·         Email address  (NO, I do not keep, sell or give them away.  It’s in case I have a problem and need to contact you).




You can Pay Online with PayPal


Pay to:  chuckabare@earthlink.net


Send $12.00 with PayPal and I will take care of the envelope and postage.

And don’t forget the email address…


Pulleys and Rope mounting scheme:


For those that are interested in also purchasing the same pulleys and rope that I use, I also have a package for that.  I believe in using quality materials in building my racks, and these pulleys are good stuff.

The kit includes:

1 - Double Pulley/eyebolt assembly

1 - Single Pulley 

1 - Hook Bolt for the rack 

1 - Rope Tie/Pole Clamp

1 - 50 foot length of 3/8" diameter rope for the system


Total        $65.00


If you would like a kit, send $65.00 to the above address and I'll ship you a kit.  

If you want the kit and plans, then send the full $75.00:


Please add a note stating exactly what you want so I won't mix things up.


Might I also add, this system is very light and can easily be raised and lowered by folks that may be slight in stature or maybe a little on the older side like myself. There's no pinching of fingers like with telescoping poles. There are no tipping of the gourds like on poles that pivot to lower them for inspection. If you'd like one, but for some reason, don't have the ability to make one, check with a friend that probably could do it for you. Most everyone knows someone that has a garage, a few basic tools and the know how to read basic drawings and build a basic structure like this.

One more thing. Just because you put up one of these poles is no guarantee that you're going to get a Purple Martin colony the first or even second year. (Although I'll give you better odds than if you tried to attract them to a house). There are rules that have to be followed to attract martins to new sites and the same goes for this structure also.  What you have to do is make the site as appealing as possible to the martins and if they like it, they will stay, and as long as there are nests available, more birds will come in and they in turn will bring others with them, thus your colony will grow. All I can do is suggest you try it and see what happens.


These are what my racks in my yard look like now.  I had to go to three levels on them because they became over crowded with birds and I needed to put more gourds up for them.  I honestly believe that the many arms are one of the reasons to do with the increase of birds.  They love places to sit and chatter and the arms of the unit allow for this.




If you have any comments or questions about any of the material on this or any of my other pages, please click on my mail box to send me e-mail and I will answer it as quickly and clearly as possible.

Please note:
If you send me an Email and ask a question and do not get an answer of some sort from me within a reasonable time, it's because your return email is not correct. Find out what your correct email is, correct the problem and then send your question to me again.

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by Chuck Abare

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