question about attracting martins

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razman
Posts: 563
Joined: Sun May 09, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: wichita ks

i have had a 12 unit martin house in my back yard for 4-5 years now, and have not attracted any martins yet. i decided to increase my odds by adding a 24 unit castle, and another 12 unit house to the backyard this week. i was told by several people that the birds would be more apt to move in if there was more houses available. i also cut down a large pine tree that was relatively close to the house, in order to give the martins a wide open space. my question is this: is it possible that at this time of year, birds are possibly going to take notice of this "new and improved" martin site, and make note of it for next spring?? or should i just take the new houses down now and store them away for the season? i have also heard that extra perches in the area are benificial. each house has a perch, but how important is it to add additional perches in the immediate area? thanks in advance for any advice or comments. rick
Guest

Keep them up until the martins have migrated back south. Some of the newer martins will visit around looking at sites.
KathyF
Posts: 3518
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 1:57 pm
Location: Missouri/Licking
Martin Colony History: Colony started - 2007 with one pair
As of 2018 - 84 cavities offered, max # of pairs hosted - 82.

Rick,
Extra perches are very important. They like to sit on them when they are viewing the house. Keep the house up until mid - end August. They'll be scouting all the available housing in the area until they leave.

Next year, add some nesting material to your nest cavities and have either the dawnsong or the daytime chatter cd playing when they migrate back. It works - martins (or the sound of them at least) will beget you martins. :lol: :lol:

You might also try a couple of gourds next year just to mix it up. Do any of your neighbors have martins? If so, check out what kind of housing they're using - then use some of the same.
"Sometimes", said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
2016 - 82 pair
2015 - 76 pair
2014 - 75 pair
2013 - 75 pair
2012-72 pair
http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com
razman
Posts: 563
Joined: Sun May 09, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: wichita ks

thanks for the input........i was hoping if i left the houses up til fall, that some birds might take notice, and return next spring to move in. i will leave them up. i don't know of anyone in my immediate neighborhood that has martins, but i have seen quite a few of them in flight, and occasionally land on my original house to investigate, so i know we have them in the area at least.

what is the best way to add more perches to my site? does someone sell something designed for this? a guy told me to put up an old tv antenna, but i want whatever i do to be somewhat attractive.
John Miller
Posts: 4768
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

If you haven't had success in 4-5 years, one does need to try some things. I bet the more open area with the tree removal will help.

I'm not a believer in more perches, based on park sites I manage. There are no power lines or perches near our successful housing. That said, I suspect that an elevated perch above a house or gourd rack may make the site more attractive in that it serves as a substitute for getting a house up higher, particularly in areas where the house is situated less open than we'd prefer. So, maybe I just contradicted myself.

Agree with Kathy that I'd add a couple of gourds for variety.

No one knows if late season visitors remember, but it can't hurt. I'd also love to know if unsuccessful males, usually sub adults, that adopt a particular cavity for weeks to a month or more and fail to get a female actually return the next year and try again. Much we don't know.

John M
Guest

I doubt that leaving your houses up will help. The martins cover such a large area in visiting and looking for housing, they will check it all out in the spring if they are looking for new housing. I doubt that they will remember where they visited last year when they come in the spring. They will choose the most open site with the deepest compartmnets. The thing about this question is that nobody knows the answer for sure.

I agree with John, the open site plus hanging a few gourds may be the best thing. I would even add a lot of nesting material, add enough nesting material so that it comes up to the bottom of the entrance hole. And do a lot of wishing! ha ha
Guest

Rick,
One thing you did not mention was if you have used the Dawnsong CD? It is too late for this year but put that on your Holiday wish list and I am sure it will get your housing some extra looks. Keep us updated!
razman
Posts: 563
Joined: Sun May 09, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: wichita ks

well, i was more diligent at first, (not knowing that getting martins wasn't pretty much an automatic thing :grin: ) and i played the dawn song one year all the time. i did get alot more lookers that year. i literally had martins buzzing all around my cd player. the only problem was, i about drove my wife and son NUTS with the CD.

but now i have "renewed" ambition, and intend to do whatever i can to increase my odds of having martins. i will play the dawn song next spring. is it the best CD i can play? i have seen others advertised i.e daytime chatter, and the ultimate purple martin lure........

thanks to everyone! rick
starling shooter
Posts: 452
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2003 7:43 pm
Location: Central MO

Dawnsong should bring some in.

From my seat, PMs prefer natural gourds over other types of housing.

Hung two gourds udner a T14 a few years back and they fought like CRAZY for those two gourds, with 14 other cavities to choose from.
razman
Posts: 563
Joined: Sun May 09, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: wichita ks

ok, i'm posting a link to a video i shot last night of my "new and improved" martin site, with the large pine tree now gone and the 2 new houses. please feel free to comment and make suggestions. rick

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bu3M4qdAKLc
KathyF
Posts: 3518
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 1:57 pm
Location: Missouri/Licking
Martin Colony History: Colony started - 2007 with one pair
As of 2018 - 84 cavities offered, max # of pairs hosted - 82.

rick,
great YouTube video! :wink:

You have good flyways in the front and back of the houses. The only challenge I see for you is the large tree that is only 25 ft. away. That tree can help a hawk sneak up on the martins and they are very aware of that fact. They might be wary of your site because of that. :wink:

I think the minimum recommended distance is 40 ft., preferably 60 ft.

http://www.purplemartin.org/main/topten.html

Otherwise, your site looks great!!
"Sometimes", said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
2016 - 82 pair
2015 - 76 pair
2014 - 75 pair
2013 - 75 pair
2012-72 pair
http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com
razman
Posts: 563
Joined: Sun May 09, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: wichita ks

would i need to reinforce my houses in order to hang gourds from them? are natural gourds any better than the man made gourds? i may want to try at least a few gourds next spring.......i'm willing to try anything that will increase my odds! :lol:
John Miller
Posts: 4768
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

It looks very open to me. I suggest thinking about open flyways rather than specific distance from a particular tree, but the more open the better for getting a colony started.

Martins don't show a consistent preference that we can document for natural over plastic gourds; however, with an unporched entry in either gourd, they can grasp the edge of the natural better, and if one does not put a prenest in -- I prefer white pine needles -- they may choose the natural first in early spring because it's warner. But with a porch or a porched tunnel and the prenests - probably no difference.

Plastic gourds are heavier, and I'd worry about over-weighting these poles. So I'd probably try to get just two naturals to hang from one of your Trios to add some variety. You can use no. 10 solid strand wire and drill a couple of holes in the corners of of the porch to do this. The gourd hangers sold by the PMCA for the Trendsetters may work...but I have not tried them.

I suggest you consider the multi-purpose pole for your two smaller Trios. It's a super strong pole, and allows you to put four gourds below on hangers.

You'll also want to get predator guards on these poles and backup snake netting -- at least once you have martins. One can make an inexpensive stove-pipe guard. There's instructions on the web site here:

http://purplemartin.org/update/13(1)PoleGuards.pdf

or I have a PDF if you want it from a Missouri brochure.

Not sure if you have, but also suggest modifying the Trios to deeper compartments. You could start with at least one. Martins will use the crescents fine.

Looks great...play the dawnsong and bring 'um in.

John Miller
Guest

I honestly believe luck plays a major role in areas that are not heavily populated by martins. Just keep at it. Play the dawn song and add some gourds and say a prayer. Not much else you can do.
Guest

Rick,

I too would suggest perches; look at my photo at the left.

I used 'ceramic tile separators' to support 'tomato stakes' and a hot glue gun to hold it all together.
razman
Posts: 563
Joined: Sun May 09, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: wichita ks

well, thanks again to everone who had input.....it has been very helpful. i've always believed that the harder you work at something, the "luckier" you get. however, when it comes to nature/wildlife, i think that we have many more questions than we have answers. so, i agree that there is a certain amount of luck or unknowns that attract these birds to certain areas. i am hopeful at this point that i have done enough to improve my odds this next season, but i am also realistic about it! thanks again, rick
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