Question, open houses or not? I say not

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Posts: 59
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 6:31 pm
Location: kansas/tonganoxie

Lucky(my wifes pet name) and I live in NE Kansas, I have OUR(they became OURS after I built, painted, and installed them on the poles) martin houses up but not opened. I am trying to get the tree swallows and bluebirds to take up residence in the other 25 bluebird houses I have placed around the area, before I open them up. Well today Lucky and I spotted Martins about 10 miles away at 2 other sites. Immediately Lucky started GRIPING AT ME(after 41 years of wedded bliss this is not an unusual occurence, REALLY it isn't) she started out by saying WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS(she tends to start alot of sentences that way) get OUR martin houses opened up now, because you are going to miss them like you did last year! Well last year I had OUR houses up and was at work when some scouts came by, of course the houses weren't open(my fault cause God knows I had been told) and the scouts went on their way.But fortunately for my sake Lucky was at home to witness this mortal sin of mine, and I got ripped about it again today! But about 10 days later,I had SWEEEEET revenge as 5 of the prettiest martins I have ever seen swooped down straight from heaven and took up residence, we had 7 pair for the year!! So I PROUDLY sez to Lucky see I didn't miss them, I was right by waiting to open up the houses, to which she said if you would have opened them up when I told you to we would have had more birds because those scouts would have stayed! So my question is should I open them up now or wait till the birds show up? Also will someone please tell Lucky those scouts wouldn't have stayed anyway, because I really am tired about hearing about that. Then we started to talk about OUR garden and Lucky says WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS...... Gosh I love spring!!! Have a nice day Jim in Ks. (also Lucky)
Emil Pampell-Tx
Posts: 6743
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 1:26 pm
Location: Tx, Richmond (SW of Houston)
Martin Colony History: First started in Gretna, La in 1969 with a small homemade house, have had martins ever since at 2 different homes in Texas

My feeling is that you should open the housing so that you stand a chance if some martins are looking for new housing. You may not get many martins looking for new housing, so I think yours should be open before those few martins arrive. I see no way that you can get martins if the house is closed, Lucky is probably

Some people leave the housing closed to deter the sparrows for a bit, but sooner or later, you will be forced to fight the sparrows by trapping or shooting. I like to do that before the martins arrive.

Same with bluebirds or other birds, but you may need to supply some additional housing for them if they want the martin housing.

Did all the snow ever melt??

Good luck
PMCA Member, 250 gourds, 6 poles, 2traps

I agree with Emil. You NEED to listen to Lucky! :lol:
John Miller
Posts: 4775
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

It's best not to generalize about when to open, rather to make judgement calls about martin decisions based on individual sites...and spouses. I always open a few compartments very early to provide shelter should a martin show up.

If you had had no martins last year and were now dealing with tree swallows, I'd say leave it closed. But because you had multiple pairs, and the martins are in the neighborhood, it's time to open. That said, you can open in stages. I initially open only parts of housing I manage, so when early arrivals come I know where they are staying if I need to put crickets in compartments. You could open compartments facing your back door, or the upper level -- but since there are martins in the area...

Good luck this season..would love to see photos.

John M
Posts: 1480
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 12:30 pm
Location: Missouri/Lone Jack
Martin Colony History: Active since 2003

You probably should of opened them 2 to 4 weeks ago just in case the pms come early and for the same reason I do. Sparrow and Starling hunting season starts as soon as you open them.
Last edited by CraigMo. on Sun Apr 04, 2010 5:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Posts: 178
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 11:20 am
Location: Wisconsin/ Sheboygan Falls

Yesterday my wife and I took a ride to see if any martins are at some of the established sites in the area. Well what I saw surprised me, most of the landlords in the area don't have their houses up yet, and many of them didn't even have their houses mounted on poles.

A lot of people seem to think the martins will show up on a certain date and they won't erect their housing before that. My Scout came April 1st, that's 2 weeks earlier than normal. So if that martin wasn't mine and he was looking for a new home he could have chosen my site, other landlords in the area wouldn't have a chance without their houses being up.

Posts: 3522
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.

jiminks - WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS.... :lol:

Seriously, check out the arrival times for your area (link below) - Looks like around March 30th, and since you've had martins before, you should open your housing a week or so earlier than that date. ... =2010&S=KS

I'm in south central MO and my birds arrived about 10 days earlier than last year.

If you start watching the scout reports each year, about 2-3 weeks before they *usually* arrive, you can easily gauge when your birds will be returning. If you don't have them open yet, you need to get them open today!!
"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
John & Linda - KY
Posts: 599
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 10:19 pm
Location: Kentucky/Hawesville

If there's not a good reason to leave it closed, open it up. But you do need to have bluebirds and tree swallows established in housing that is close enough to your martin housing to prevent other birds from nesting there. Since the martins are a month or so away from nesting and they have a STRONG desire to return to a location where they nested successfully the previous year, I would wait until the bb's and ts's are established. I know one local landlord who had to work a lot of 12 hour nights at the time martins normally return here so he didn't get his housing up until early May, when they are beginning to build nests. His birds came in immediately and began nesting. -- John

I just saw my first tree swallow today. Not sure if I will get them to come in my yard. The bluebirds do have their box established for the year.

Sooo with that said..... there are reports of martins in Minnesota. The normal time of their arrival to my area isn't for another 2 weeks. Do I raise my house now?

Last year I had 2 successful martin nests fledge 9 nestlings. I'm only assuming I'll get martins back this year.


I agree with Lucky. If they aren't open, they won't stay. I too open a few at a time on each system. When they began arriving I opened them all. I had to trap 2 sparrows today. They like them open too. 8)
Posts: 327
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 10:12 am
Location: North Dakota/Larimore
Martin Colony History: Will add later

I open my gourds a few days before the earliest martins are expected back. They arrived here in Larimore on May 10 last year, so I'll have at least some of the gourds opened by May 1.

I'm offering only eight gourds; I hang them out April 15 but keep the entry holes sealed with duct tape until May 1.

Of course, if I see or hear of a Purple Martin anywhere near my town earlier, I'll race home and open gourds, turn on the daytime chatter, and re-arrange the decoys yet again.
~ Not all those who wander are lost.
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 6:31 pm
Location: kansas/tonganoxie

Well thank you all for responding, even though I didn't like your answers it was a super day for Lucky, she did several victory laps around the room chanting I TRIED TO TELL YA BUT YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME!!!! So I got the ladder and went out and opened up 2 houses, just to make her happy. Other things; Emil, the snow is all gone for now anyway,John, I would have to have Lucky post any pictures and I'm really in no mood to hear the "OH SO YOU NEED ME NOW" routine. Craig, Lucky ponted out from your post that she tried to tell me to open them up 2 weeks ago also but I wouldn't listen!!! Thank you for that little tidbit of advice,and Kathe you and OL' Lucky either went to the same class or have the same manual on "HOW TO TRAIN YOUR HUSBAND" cause you start your sentences out the same way she does!!! Thank everyone else that replied, I might have lost round 1, but I have not yet begun to fight!!! HAPPY EASTER TO ALL!! Jim and Sandy (OL'LUCKY)
Posts: 262
Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:03 pm
Location: Titus County , TX

God forbid I should invoke the wrath of Lucky but I agree with you , Jim. :lol: I keep my (open) houses down until the scouts show up. That way I can clean out any sparrows nests more easily.

I do have an advance warning system , however. When the mockingbirds start sounding like martins I know to get ready. :wink:
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 6:31 pm
Location: kansas/tonganoxie

Siberman, YOU DA MAN DUDE,thank you for ageeing with me , and don't worry about invoking Lucky's wrath, she ain't all that tough!! Why just yesterday as I was opening up those martin houses, I was REALLY chewing on her, I'm pretty sure(actually real sure) she would have been past mad,if she would have heard what I said about her Thank God Lucky was shopping!!By the way how far do you live from NE Kansas? Oh yeah what's the deal on the mocking birds sounding like martins? I have a couple mocking birds up here they sound like Lucky,I can't stand them birds!! Good Lucky with everyone's martin's this year, and have a nice day!! Jim in KS.
Posts: 3071
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

I too know the frustration of fending off TS and BB's from you PM site. I think since you had nesting PM's last year you are OK to open your site because your returning PM's will not be as skittish and they will put up with the limited fighting they will get from the PM's.
My problem is I don't have nesting PM's yet so I HAVE to keep my PM housing closed because the second I open in the TS move in. Once the TS start nesting I am safe to open it.
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