Why use pine straw in your gourds?

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robinlarry
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:39 pm
Location: Yellow Springs, Ohio

Could someone tell me why we use pine needles in the gourds in the spring? I ask because, having just finished cleaning 120 gourds, not one had any of the pine needles left. The nests consisted primarily of dried leaves, straw, and thin twigs. Should we be using straw instead? Thoughts?

Larry Weinstein
Yellow Springs, OH
flyin-lowe
Posts: 3176
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

I've had some martins leave them in and like you have see a lot where they are removed. I don't pre-nest all of my cavities because I see some martins every year that choose empty cavities over cavities that have been pre nested. Where I live it is not uncommon to have temps close to freezing after the first martins begin to arrive. Even if they are going to drag the pre nesting material out later in the spring I assume they utilize it early on for warmth.
2021 Currently 62 nest 138 babies plus 110 eggs (6-317-21) HOSP count-9
2020 42 nest, Fledged 164 HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional lone SY's
2016 1 pair fledged 4
2015 Visitors
2014 Visitors
2013 Moved 6 miles away, 1 pair fledged 2.
2012 30 pair fledged 100.
2011 12 pair 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair 14 fledged.
C.C.Martins
Posts: 1308
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- Visitors.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021- 28 pair. 118 fledged
Home colony: mix natural, super and excluder gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mini castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021: 10 pair, 30 fledged
PMCA member

Good question, I too have had martins replace everything I put in the cavity. But all of them? Thats alot!!
I do pre nest with pine needles, ill put a few oak leaves in each cavity.. I second the fact that its cold when they arrive and I'll add that I don't want martins on the ground looking for nesting material. Id rather them focus on eating, nesting and laying eggs.
Last ill say I used straw as a base one year, it turned to mush and had mildew develop. Depending on the orientation, some water is bound to get in.
Pine needles are tough to find in South texas, there's a park near here with 3 pine trees...I go during lunch and collect hand fulls...guess I'm that crazy guy.
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
brent
Posts: 502
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:43 pm
Location: Raceland, Louisiana

Hi everyone,
My 1st year I used straw. We get lots of rain here in SE Louisiana. The straw became wet and I even had some chicks get tangled in it. Since then I only use pine needles. They stay dry and they are firm enough to prevent wrapping around little chick's legs. This year we had a horrible freeze that lasted days and I know the pine needles helped keep the martins dry and warm. Also this year I had close to 100% of the pairs keeping some or all of the pine needles. All they did was add whatever else they wanted. We just had a major hurricane hit us, Ida. Many pine trees down so I went around and stocked up on pine needles. Lucky me, lucky martins. 🙂 Brent
C.C.Martins
Posts: 1308
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- Visitors.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021- 28 pair. 118 fledged
Home colony: mix natural, super and excluder gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mini castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021: 10 pair, 30 fledged
PMCA member

Brent, saw some pictures of the devastation-lots of leafless trees...those that were still standing anyway. Good thinking on getting what you could, should serve you many seasons.
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
Martintown33
Posts: 172
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:21 pm
Location: Laplace,La
Martin Colony History: 21 year colony. 2 s&k modified houses and gourd rack

I’ve always used pine needles. 100% of my martins use the pine needles as the base for their nest, as they gather more needles, twigs, leaves, and sometimes, mud to complete the nest.
Rob
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