How did you get started as a Purple Martin Landlord?

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Chriscreole
Posts: 781
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:31 am
Location: Texas, Hutto

Here's how it all began for me...

Hi, my name is Chris and I am a Purple Martin Landlord.

In late summer/early winter of 2010, I first noticed a pair of birds hanging out under my covered patio riding on the ceiling fan blades. I took pictures of them to show my friend at work and he told me they looked like Purple Martins and should put up a house for them to see if I could get them to stay. He said it is very hard for some people get Purple Martins and I would be very lucky is they stayed.

That was the first time I ever heard of a Purple Martin. It was 2010 and nearing the end of the migratory season but I decided to put up a house and see what happens. I purchased an S&K house with a 6 gourd rack. I soon had a few visitors but they didn’t stay long, most likely just passing by on their way to Brazil. After all it was late in the season. I thought wow what a waste of money. My friend at work encouraged me to stick with it they may come back next year 2011 season.

Well I'll be darned he was right. In late January 2011, I started seeing Purple Martin Scouts returning from their migratory adventure in Brazil and passing through the area. I opened up the doors in the S&K house and gourds to see if I could get any to visit and possibly like the housing I was offering and stay. By mid February I had my first pair of males, and they stayed. I don't think it was the same two birds that were riding on my ceiling fan but I got excited anyway. A week or so later a few females arrived and they too stayed. And my new Colony started to grow. More and more Martins started showing up and they were staying and building nests. By this time I'm freaking out kind of excited. I searched this PMCA forum for answers to all my questions on how to care for them.

I felt so lucky! Most Purple Martin Landlords wait YEARS to attract Martins and some never do attract any. I was blessed to have nesting Martins my first year as a landlord. The end of the 2010/2011 season results were:

2010 - Few visitors from neighbors
2011 - 9 nesting Pair, 22 eggs, 14 hatchlings, 13 fledged, First wave has left, 3 more new nesting pairs arrived 6/4/2011 and building their own nests. No eggs, all gone now.

I have recently replaced the original S&K housing and upgraded to a Super System 24, which consists of a 3” sq by 16 ft tall aluminum pole I picked up on Craig’s list for $150 which came with the two 4 cavity sections of a T-14 house. I bought a crank up hub assembly with 8 arms that can hold 24 gourds. I bought the Troyer Gourds (8 Vertical and 8 Horizontal) from the PMCA (great price BTW). I have modified them to have a venting system to protect the Martins from the Dreaded Texas Summer Heat! I found 2 dead babies in the old housing, so this will help them this year.

During the hot summer drought in 2011, I had to provide a supplemental food source for the martins because of the lack of flying insects which is their main diet. The PMCA Forums really helped me get my Martins through the summer. Martins learn to accept frozen crickets (thawed) and of all things I would never have guessed they would eat scrambled eggs. I cut the eggs into very small squares, load up a small plastic spoon and flip it up in the air, and if the Martins are hungry, they’ll swoop in and catch it in mid air. This is how they keep up their energy and feed the babies so they don’t starve.

My Backyard faces Creek Side Park in Hutto Texas and is a perfect location for my Purple Martin Habitat. There are picnic tables and a BBQ area with public restrooms just beyond my fence where we can watch the sporting events, while the spectators are watching the Ariel acrobatic show the Martins put on. There is allot of pedestrian traffic and people stop and rest at the picnic benches and watch the Purple Martins play. I have even seen people taking pictures.

I have really gotten to be a better landlord because of the Purple Martin Conservation Association (PMCA) web Site. This is my best resource for obtaining knowledge to help out my Purple Martin Family.

I have recently created my own web site to try to pull existing Landlords together and to attract people interested in birding. I named it “Central Texas Purple Martin Landlords”. I also created a Face Book page to spread the word and promote the conservation of this beautiful song bird. Here is the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Central-T ... 2307435312

This year in 2012, I hope my returning Martins bring back lots of their feathered friends; I have a luxury hotel waiting just for them!

I also just certified my Purple Martin habitat with the National Wildlife Federation - Habitat #153887, https://www.nwf.org/CertifiedWildlifeHabitat , I did this for the conservation of the Purple Martins, my Humming Birds, and Barn Swallows so my backyard habitat will be protected and prosper.

Well that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

So what's your story?
Last edited by Chriscreole on Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PMCA Member since 2010
Super System 24, All Troyer W/Conley 2 entrances.
Chriscreole
Posts: 781
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:31 am
Location: Texas, Hutto

Tough question huh?

100 views and no one wants to share how they got started as a landlord and where you are today?

Well Already then.
Image
PMCA Member since 2010
Super System 24, All Troyer W/Conley 2 entrances.
cary-nw-fla
Posts: 124
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:27 pm
Location: Holt, Florida

Since I don't have an established colony yet I don't consider myself a landlord yet. I guess what prompted me to try with PM's was that my grandfather had one PM house up between the back of his house and his barn when I was a kid. It was a wooden house with maybe 12 compartments. I currently live about a quarter mile down the road from his old house which still stands today. We lost him many years ago and of course there hasn't been pm housing there for years. I only put housing in 2010 (late)... I really regret that I didn't start years ago.
One question... I went to the NWF site ... How do you go about having your site certified?? Couldn't find info about how to do that (maybe I just missed it).
Enjoyed your post. Thanks
2010/2011: 0 / 2012: 8 Pair / 2013: 22 Pair / 2014: 35 Pair / 2015: 39 Pair / 2016: 73 Pair / 2017: 94 Pair
Cary
D'Nese
Posts: 450
Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:09 pm
Location: Unionville, TN

Here's my story......

I am a avid bird lover. Been feeding the birds in the back yard for 20 yrs or so. In Rochester NY I had every bird imaginable come to my feeders but never even really knew what a "purple martin" was. My yard wouldn't have been a place they would have frequented any ways as it was full of trees. Move the clock forward to 2007 and we move to Unionville TN which is about an hour south of Nashville. Ole cattle field with almost no trees. Not many of the usual birds I was use to seeing but a few new ones. Blue birds were one of the new additions that I had always wished for up north but never could attract because of the HOSP. No real cover here for my beloved cardinals and chickadee's but I made due. Husband built BB houses for me and had one of my favorite birds now having babies in the yard.

Then one day I was at Wally world and saw the "plastic" house offered with a pole. The light went off. Why not? If the BB's came why not the purple martins. Any chance to attract a bird to the yard meant enjoyment on the back deck watching them. Well that was 2 seasons ago. And boy are they addictive. I couldn't believe my eyes when the first pair landed and stayed. I was overjoyed. I felt privileged!!!! They, who are so elusive to some has actually picked me to be their landlord. Well that was the beginning of the love I have for these birds. My first year I was lucky to attract a few and even had some babies fledge. I found this forum and have learned volumes from all of you here.

Second year I talked my husband into building a T14 and with the gift from a friend ( and his friends) I was given a few gourds. House goes up with gourds attached. I almost fell over when the first male landed on the new T14 and checked out one of the gourds. Poking his head in and out. How cute to see his little butt poking out as he was checking out the gourd.

I am now counting down the day's to late march. They will hopefully be in my area then and I am now checking the map every morning hoping that someone has heard that distinctive song they sing as they are coming in for a landing. It's a sound that makes your heart skip a beat and gives you a lump in your throat.

Good Luck to all of you this year and may those that haven't head that sound yet may it be this year for you.


:grin: :grin: :grin:
D'Nese in Tennessee


2009-new house up, many visitors no one stayed
2010-3 pairs, 14 eggs, 9 babies 9 fledged
2011 20 pairs, 106 eggs, 79 fledged
2012 37 pair, 120 fledged
2013 37 pair, 173 fledged
Chriscreole
Posts: 781
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:31 am
Location: Texas, Hutto

Great story D'Nese
Maybe there were to many trees in the yard for Martins, I keep hearing that they love the open areas and will pick it before one to close to trees, something about flight paths and they feel safer in open areas.

Thanks for sharing!
Last edited by Chriscreole on Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PMCA Member since 2010
Super System 24, All Troyer W/Conley 2 entrances.
DAVE
Posts: 288
Joined: Mon May 05, 2008 10:03 am
Location: Winchester, VA

In 2006 we went to Conroe Texas for a visit to W.E.'s home. He grew Gourds and had about 30 up and full house. He has tryed for some 10 years and this was the first time he has ever had Martins. Unfortunatly he hasn't had any since, but keeps trying. While there he gave me 5 Natural Gourds. I brought them home and put them away. In 2007 they came up for a visit to see the Fall colors . We where setting on the back porch, he asked where were the Gourds he gave me. I said in the shed. He said that I had the ideal spot for Martins. After they left I went on line to learn how to set up a Gourd Rack, thanks to everyone on this Forum, great help folks. I made a 6 spoked Rack with a telescoping Pole. Sent away for Troyer Tunnels with Conley 2 entrance's and clean out caps. In April 2008 put up the Rack 40 feet from the house, Played the Dawn Song, and in 2 days Martins came in and stayed. In 4days a full house plus. Man was i ever suprised at the fighting and noise. In 2009 put up another Rack with a total of 12 Gourds. Once again a full House.In 2010 another Rack with a total of 16 Gourds and 2 of Emil's Bunglos, again a full house. So I feel that I have been very blessed.Having lots of fun.
Matt F.
Posts: 3895
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Hi Chris.

When I was very young (around 5 years old), an older couple that lived next door put up a big, 4-story, wooden Martin house.
It immediately got Martins, and I was absolutely enamored with them.
That's when my Martin obsession started.

A few years later, the couple moved. They left the Martin house, but it quickly went into disrepair, and got overgrown by trees. The next guy that moved into the house, had no interest in Martins. He quickly learned that I did, and graciously gave me the Martin house.

Knowing how much I loved Martins, my dad helped to refurbished the house, and put it up in our yard.
And that was the start of my first colony.

As a young kid, I can remember riding my bike around the neighborhood, looking for Martin houses. My friends used to think I was so weird for wanting to sit, and watch Purple Martins for hours on end.
There was one house a couple of blocks over (it was a Trio Grandpa), that was chock full of Martins every year. Once school let out for the summer, I would ride my bike over there pretty much every morning, to watch the action. I had a few pairs at my own house at that time, but it was not near as action packed as that Trio was.
I think it was that old Trio that led to my becoming a Trio fanatic.... 8)
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2932
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

I had always been fascinated with birds. As I child I raised and bread parakeets and cockatiels. I later moved up to some large parrots including my last bird a Congo African Grey parrot. So after I got out of college and got settled into a life with my own house and a family I decided to try for martins. I had visitors for five years before getting breeding pair's to stay. I also built two bat houses last year but neither were occupied. It is not uncommon for bats houses to be empty for a couple years.
2020 Currently 42 nest, 110 babies, 64 eggs left to hatch(6-22-20) HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair last count 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional SY's stayed all summer but never paired/nested.
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 (11 that nested), 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair, 21 eggs, 16 hatched, 14 fledged.
tonyg
Posts: 1520
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:16 pm
Location: Olpe, KS
Martin Colony History: 22 year landlord, 14 at current residence..offering 9 racks and a homemade T-8 for 166 total cavities. 160 Pair in 2018 Racks consist of a Deluxe 12, AAA 16, Starburst 16, 2 K-18 Series, Super 24, 2 Gemini, Multi-purpose/two trio’s/4gourds and a T-8..Great hobby to be involved in..

My interest in Martins started 16 years ago. We had just purchased 40acres in the country here in Ks and was starting to build our new home and needed a riding lawn mower for my immediate yard (3 acres). Saw an add in the local newspaper for an almost new John Deere rider. Went to look at it (bought it) and while I was there, the couple had a home made martin rack laying beside the house with 2 trios attached. I inquired to what it was and they said it was for sale as they hadn't had any martins for several years. (trees everywhere). Well I knew that my closest neighbor had an established colony so I ask how much? "We'll take $75 for everything".. well to make a long story short, I bought it, set it up and had 12 pair that first year. Next year both houses were full..lived there another 2 years and moved back to the city life..Good news was that the people who bought the house currently still have the martin colony. I took that rack with me and set it up in town and went without martins for 4 yrs, always visitors, no keepers...We moved back to the country 8 yrs ago and I bulit some home made racks of my own. Increased my pairs every year since we have been here.(63 pair last year).. I have replaced all these home made racks this year with some nice ones.. Will miss that old rack for sentimental value, but won't miss climbing that ladder alll the time..good luck to all in 2012..
22 year landlord..9 Rack Systems for 2018 and my home built T-8 for a total of 166 cavities..160 pair in 2018 ..SUPER COLONY!!! Love You Bev... Fan of those St. Louis Cardinals!!!!!
Chriscreole
Posts: 781
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:31 am
Location: Texas, Hutto

Great inspiring stories everyone, turning out to be a great thread after all. Some of these should be in the quarterly magizine huh?

Keep it up this is great reading!
Image
PMCA Member since 2010
Super System 24, All Troyer W/Conley 2 entrances.
John Miller
Posts: 4769
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Chriscreole

I've told my story before...so folks who know it by heart are excused.

My grandfather, a carpenter, had martins when I was born, and so my earliest memories are of watching the martins. Grandpa built a simple wooden house with six compartments. Grandpa didn't live way out in the country, rather in a home in Radcliff, Ky., near Fort Knox, where grandpa worked on the base. My parents and I lived at the time in small house out back of the main house...maybe closer to the martins.

A little boys do, I got into stuff and got to swaying the metal pole back and forth, and it broke at the base. I remember it made me sad, seeing the martins down on the clothes line trying to get back to their house. Also remember closely examining the beautiful purple color of a dead male that was in the house...probably long dead as grandpa didn't do nest checks.

Fortunately, grandpa got the house back up, and I don't recall being punished, but have borne the affliction of the purple martin bug for the remainder of life, and hopefully have repaid any harm done by now.

John M
Last edited by John Miller on Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
Doug Martin - PA
Posts: 1920
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:47 am
Location: Pennsylvania/Fombell
Martin Colony History: First pair in 2009 after 28 years of trying. 3 pairs 2010, 17 pairs 2011 and 35-45 pairs since. Many additional colonies are now springing up around mine in an area once completely void of Martins. I offer 50 compartments at my site consisting of primarily Excluder II gourds on Gemini racks. Also a wooden T-14. I utilize electric fence type predator guards on the base of the poles. Supplemental feeding is crucial in maintaining my colony. I platform feed throughout the season as needed. My site tends to be a stop over point for additional birds as they migrate further north.

Back in 1981 I must have fallen and hit my head.

After that I developed a strange illness and a very unusual fever. Although it made no sense to anyone else... I began to wander aimlessly around looking for Purple Martins and began to errect housing for them all over my yard. Even though they did not exist.

This derranged mental problem lasted nearly 30 years until one day I was finally curred. A single pair nested in a gourd on one of my many poles in the yard.

The side effects are still present however as last year I was imagining the whole sky and all my houses stuffed full of Purple Martins. These halucinations occurred mainly in the evening.

Who knows maybe it was real.... I will see what happens this spring. :lol:
Supplemental feeding plays a major role in western Pennsylvania. Finally got my 1st pair in 2009 after 28 years of effort. 3 pairs in 2010. 17 pairs in 2011. 35 pairs and 150 young in 2012 & 2013. Plus a new 22 pair colony right down the road from me.
Chriscreole
Posts: 781
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:31 am
Location: Texas, Hutto

Doug Martin - Fombell Pa wrote:Back in 1981 I must have fallen and hit my head.

After that I developed a strange illness and a very unusual fever. Although it made no sense to anyone else... I began to wander aimlessly around looking for Purple Martins and began to errect housing for them all over my yard. Even though they did not exist.

This derranged mental problem lasted nearly 30 years until one day I was finally curred. A single pair nested in a gourd on one of my many poles in the yard.

The side effects are still present however as last year I was imagining the whole sky and all my houses stuffed full of Purple Martins. These halucinations occurred mainly in the evening.

Who knows maybe it was real.... I will see what happens this spring. :lol:


Sounds like you woke up in the middle of a big Roost and was fading in and out.
Image
PMCA Member since 2010
Super System 24, All Troyer W/Conley 2 entrances.
Stingray
Posts: 338
Joined: Wed May 11, 2005 9:45 pm
Location: Plantation/Florida

Hi Chris,
Good topic. Thanks for posting.
I always been an animal and bird lover.
Here's how I got started:
We took a drive to the west coast of Florida a few years ago with some friends and while out sight seeing, we spotted a couple of PM houses. I had never seen one and it intrigued me. I said that it might be cool to have one. Fast forward 4-5 months later and my wife gave me my first Purple Martin house for Christmas.
I let it sit in my garage for a few months that year. After finally putting it up, I was able to attract birds my first year!
That was in 2005. Been hooked on them since. I'm looking forward to their arrival next month.

Pedro :)
Have a great season!
Greg
Posts: 92
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 3:15 pm
Location: Fuquay-Varina, NC
Martin Colony History: As a child I managed a purple martin colony consisting of 3 houses on a tidal tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. I started my own colony at my house in Holly Springs, NC as an adult that grew to 27 pairs one year. In 2016 I moved and started a new colony in the spring of 2017 at my new home, which is about 7 miles south of my old colony. I successfully attracted my first ASY male in April of 2017. He quickly attracted a mate, followed by 7 more pairs. Grateful to have been able to start a new colony so quickly!

When I was about 12 years old, I started noticing an elderly neighbor's purple martins. We lived in Maryland in a very dense and highly populated neighborhood. Looking back, the yard was definitely not ideal for purple martins, but being only a few blocks from the Chesapeake Bay might have made the location a little more attractive to the birds. The old man had two aluminum houses mounted on pivoting poles and he and his wife would sit out back and watch the birds each evening. I began joining them.

The next year I made a wooden house and a wooden gourd rack. I put them up when my neighbor's birds came back. I had an ASY pair pick out a plastic gourd and begin building a nest. During nest building, one night, their was a horrific storm that woke me out of my sleep. I can still remember standing at a back window watching the trees bend and just knowing that there was no way that the housing would be standing in the morning. Sure enough, the next morning I went out and the poles had been snapped...along with the trees. I ran crying back into the house and my dad came out to help me. We rigged the pole back up even though it was about 3 or 4 feet shorter and the pair of martins flew right in. Later that afternoon I did a nest check and low and behold they had laid an egg that very morning!!!! They ended up laying 4 eggs and none of them hatched. That was the end of my first martin season.

The next year i didn't get any birds, but I found a colony located on some community property that apparently no one had been caring for for years. Nevertheless there were about 15 pairs of martins. The houses were aluminum and mounted on a bulkhead on the edge of the water. I started taking care of them and doing nest checks by myself. I was 13 years old. That first season that I was caring for them we had a cold rainy spell in June that lasted for 5 days. I tried my best to feed crickets, but I was just a kid and didn't really know that much about caring for them and about 50 babies died that week. Only one nest survived and most birds abandoned the colony. We moved that winter.

While I was in high school I didn't have anything to do with martins. I was very busy. I left for college for North Carolina. After college I bought a house in Holly Springs, NC. My wife's grandfather was a martin landlord. It gave me the itch again. For Christmas 2009 they gave me a Heath plastic house which I knew was not the most ideal for martins. However, I modified it to SREH and double-sized compartments. That first season I had an SY male spend over a month trying to attract a mate. He was unsuccessful.

The next season (2011) I stopped at a farm and bought 6 natural gourds. I put them up under the house. On April 16th there was a tornado that passed about 500 feet from my house. It destroyed a martin house about a quarter mile from my house. That week, two ASY males brought their mates to my site and claimed two gourds. They laid a total of 7 egges. All hatched. All fledged. It was an amazingly enjoyable season with lots of other visitors, especially after birds started fledging nearby.

I'm looking forward to a great season.
Greg H.
Holly Springs, NC

2011 - 2 pairs, 7 eggs, 7 hatch, 7 fledge
2012 - 13 pairs, 63 eggs, 52 hatched, 50 fledged
2013 - 21 pairs
2014 - 25 pairs
2015 - 27 pairs
2016 - 23 pairs removed 4 gourds this year.
2017 - moved and started a new colony which attracted 8 Pairs
2018 - first arrivals have come back....anticipating!
MandyinMO
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 3:11 pm
Location: Lake St. Louis, MO

Bumping from January :)

25 years ago when I was a young teen, I had some elderly retired neighbors, Fred & Doris. Doris was into flower gardening and volunteered at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and Fred was into Purple Martins. They had a Trio Grandpa and I didn't pay much attention at the time but my parents say he did have martins and he would shoot the S&S. When Fred passed away, Doris either couldn't or didn't want to maintain the colony so she lowered the house and plugged the entrances. And there it sat outside, empty for some 15+ years.

4 years ago my husband and I bought a house in a new subdivision on land that used to be used for Quail hunting. We are surrounded by farmland, forests, and protective wetlands. Our house backs to trees and a small lake. With this habitat and with me being a stay at home mom and peaking out the windows all day, I started noticing all types of birds I've never seen before: Pileated Woodpeckers, Baltimore Orioles, Orchard Orioles, Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks, buntings, horned larks, green herons, etc. I had also learned about Purple Martins and decided I was ready to give it a try.

About the same time we bought our house, Doris had decided hers was getting to be too much for her to take care of and moved to a retirement community. A younger man bought her house and could care less about flowers, birds, etc. He just wanted to convert everything back to grass and he was kind enough to let me transplant some of the flowers to my home and dig up the Trio house. I put the house in my back yard as-is and got 2 pair my first season. This year I modified it, put it on a MPP with gourds and I have 1 pair so far. I could've afforded to buy a brand new shiny pm house, but I really cherish the fact that I am giving new life to a Trio that hosted martins 20 years ago maybe even to their descendants. By the way, the only thing I have needed to replace on the house was a broken top perch, and it was outside all those years! Goes to show you the quality of those Trios :grin:
2010 - Put up housing late in season & had visitors
2011 - 2 Nesting Pair (1 successful)
2012 - 1 ASY pair, 5 babies
2013 - 2 ASY pair, 11 babies
~Ray~Gingerich
Posts: 2118
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 10:24 pm
Location: Delaware/Dover

We had martins on the farm for 10 yrs when I was a kid, after getting my own place in 1977 I built a wooden house and put it up, looking back I now know everything was wrong with that house, there was no way to check or clean the nests except by unhooking the roof or the roof and the second story, the pole had a pivot bolt at the bottom,needless to say I didn't get martins in that house even after moving it to several different locations one being under a tree :shock: When I joined PMCA I learned a lot about what I should be doing and made the necessary corrections but still no martins. Finally in 1999 I had a pair move into a gourd under my t-14 and they sucessfully fledged out 5 young, the following year only the male returned and that was it, no more martins until 2006 and again no returns the following year. Finally in 2008 a pair moved into my Trio house then a pair into my t-14, all went well then in 2009 I had 22 pair followed by 36 pair in 2010 and 65 pair in 2011. Yesterday I did a nest check and came up with 79 nests containing eggs or young, so it looks like a big increase for this year again.
~Ray~ Gingerich
1999 1pair, 2006 2 pair, 2008 2 pair,
2009 23 pair, 2010 39 pair, 2011 67 pair,
2012 115 pair, 2013 160 pair,
2014 152 pair, 2015 174 pair, 2016 178 pair
2017 187 pair, 2018 200 pair, 2019 171pair
2020 233 pair
DornCounty
Posts: 2172
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:58 pm
Location: Rural SE Kansas
Martin Colony History: .
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Trio-Jedi

Well when I was a kid my Grandmother had a purple martin house in her back yard. I didn't really appreciate them but thought they were neat.

I also enjoyed seeing the hoards of martins in Parsons at the community colonies. Back then (late 80's early 90's) the power lines would be covered with hundreds of martins. Now not so much.

About a year ago I purchased 40 acres and started building a house in the country. As soon as I did that I knew I wanted to get martins. My folks not far away had tried for years without success, but they never delt with S&S.

I got on the web and did some searching, found this site and ended up putting up a trio with 2 Bonine's under it. So far I have 4 maybe 5 pairs.

I think maybe 20 pairs is where I will top out at for my personal colony. I don't want to be a martin hog and don't want to create more work than I can do for fun.

I also decided to help regrow the colonies in town and have learned alot doing that. Currently I help take care of 11 trio's, and will probably take on a couple castles next season. Hoping to get the community sites back to the glory days in a few years.
2017 - Home & Public Colonies - 300 Cavities
Lhawk
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri May 28, 2004 10:23 am
Location: Tennesse,Memphis
Martin Colony History: Started tying in 2001 finally got 3 pair in 2003. Since then I had a steady increase to the 34 pair I now host in 2 Watersedge Suites 1 Trendsetter,and 12 plastic gourds.

This is how my love affair began.
My dad first built a six room wooden house after they moved to the country from their long time home inside of Memphis. He did not have any luck attracting Martins though he tried for many years. Many years later I bought a five acre lot in Mississippi that had a nice wide open space where I thought I could have a good chance of establishing a colony.
In 1998 I erected my first house, a cheap plastic 12 room on a 12’ pole that could not be lowered, no takers. The next year I upgraded to a T-14 that I built over the winter with obround opening to deter the starlings. They were able to enter them like they were two inch round holes. The next 4 years were a constant battle with the scum birds. Since I was not living at the Ample Acres location it was nearly impossible to keep the S&S under control.
In 2003 a friend gave me a Trio Grandpa house that he had had up for several years with no success. I decided to try installing it at my home here in Memphis. I wasn’t very optimistic about my chances here because of the large oak trees in my yard and the neighbors. But I figured what the heck, and put it up late in the season around June 15. Wouldn’t you know it was covered up with Martins that year? Too late for any nesters, but in 2004 I was blessed with 10 pair that fledged 30 young. That same year I finally was able to get one pair to nest at the Ample Acres colony in one of the natural gourds beneath the T-14.
2005 was a mixed bag. The home colony just exploded with a total of 18 pair in the 20 available compartments, but no nesters at the Ample Acres colony. Finally in 2006 we had 3 pair at Ample Acres then 9 in 2007. In 2012 we have 33 pair in the 34 compartments here in town, and 36 out of 38 at Ample Acres. I’ve got a T-16 built and will be installing it at Ample Acres at the end of this nesting season. The home colony is at its maximum due to the close proximity of neighbors.
I hope everyone has a great martin year this year it sure looks like we will have the best one yet.

Lee
Tenth year as a landlord. Started with 9 pair the second year housing was up ,2004. Now have 32 pair here in town, and 38 pair at the farm. Life is truly good
AvianStewardess
Posts: 342
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 3:10 pm
Location: Maryland/Cambridge

I stumbled upon the story of Native Americans "raising" purple martins and was fascinated. I lived in a forest so just knowing how the birds come to thrive had to be enough for me for the time being. A few years went by and I heard the story again, and it renewed that awe I had for the little birds. This time, though, I lived on a five-acre stamp of land in the middle of Illinois corn country. So...I jumped in. In turning two acres into a prairie restoration, I installed a house. That year, I got one male, determined looker, who took courage from my continuous battles with house sparrows...in the middle of it, my partner good fired from his job. We were forced to scramble to get the farm sold and get him back to where his connections are for future employment. That was last fall and, fortunately, that turned out well.

So...our house came with an established house; not a kind that seems well liked by the experienced ones on this forum, but it is bursting at the seems in occupancy. There were so many adults, we gambled and put in another house. I made a very bad mistake leaving just the round holes in, and two days after a female really settled into a house, a bird entered it and killed her. I was devasted, and began figuring out what disgusting critter would poke a hole right through her head and then nest over her. Disgusted!

The Internet is so awesome for mysteries. And, from it, I learned what probably happened and what to do to carry on. So, here I am, realizing it isn't a casual responsibility to have purple martins; being amazed at the spectacle all of these avians in my area; having my heart broke when Mother Nature seems too cruel (an osprey losing a nest after 22-days of best-building makes a horribly tortuous cry); and having my heart soar when I also get to see her beauty in letting us humans build a trust with one of her creatures (I am awed every time I lower e house and peek in the one occupied nest and the momma comes back!).
~Michelle
PMCA Member
Heritage Farm Quad Pod Systems
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