If you can't beat em'...

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MB12RING
Posts: 84
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:36 pm
Location: MI, Fruitport

... join em'?

I've been trying hard for 4 years to establish a colony here in west MI. I had some luck in 2011, fledging 5 babies. Last year I had a SY pair build a nest and stay for a month but never layed eggs. This year I have hardly had any visitors at all at my house and shop. I have a lonely ASY male at the boat club that just can't seem to find a mate, but he is there every time I go there to check on it.
I have quite a diverse assortment of housing and gourds at 3 different locations. First, at my house; second at my shop and third at a private boat club on a nearby lake about 8 miles North of my house.
There is a nice sized colony about 10 miles SW of me that has about 50-60 pairs. It's at 2 different private residences (neighbors) but across the street from a city park, on Lake MI. One of the places is for sale so don't know what the future holds for that colony. The other is owned by an older couple. I feel like if it wasn't for this colony putting out good numbers of Martins every year I would not have nearly as good of a chance of getting anything at my home site.
My biggest question is, rather than sit on all the empty housing I have up, should I try to get permission to put some housing up at the park?
My ultimate goal is to have a colony at my house that I can monitor close and hopefully supplemental feed and that my family and I can enjoy. I've got 2 young kids that would just think that was the coolest thing, doing nest checks and watching the birds up close. But I feel a little selfish knowing that I could possibly be putting some of the houses to good use and helping the overall Martin population in the area by putting them up next to the established colony. And the thought of actually having nesting Martins that I can watch and do nest checks on is really exciting, even if I have to drive 10 miles to do it.
I stopped and talked with the older gentleman this week and asked if he would be OK with me putting housing up at the park (its only about 20 yds from his house) and he was all for it, said he would gladly keep an eye on it for me if I had to go out of town etc. He even lowered 1 of his T-14's and we checked out all the nests. He has 2 T-14's each with 8 gourds and they're pretty much all full!
So what do you think? I'm thinking it will eventualy raise my chances of getting birds at my house after a few years?
I feel like my home and shop sites are an 8 out 10 as far as openness and being Martin friendly, both on the same 60-80 acre cattail marsh with a large creek flowing through and across the street from Spring Lake, which is a large lake that flows into the Grand river and into lake MI, right past the city park I'm talking about.
All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated!
Thanks
Matt
2013, back in the game with a pair at my satelite colony that has eggs due to hatch around July 7th
Patrick W. Dusek
Posts: 167
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2003 9:35 pm
Location: Sugar Land, Texas

Matt,
Sounds good to me. Is this a city park? Or do you have to talk to someone else about putting up the PM house? Talk soon, Patrick in Sugar Land
Spring time yet???
starling shooter
Posts: 452
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2003 7:43 pm
Location: Central MO

Sounds like a good idea. You may be able to get a few others interested adn grow the numbers.

I put up a gourd rack on a city lake. Have had all 12 gourds occupied but this year, I wasn't able to get out as much and the sparrows really took over in the cold temps. PMs were late and the sparrows got a big jump.
avesrun
Posts: 1113
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:10 pm
Location: Iowa/West Des Moines
Martin Colony History: Home Site: 2017- 0
2016 - 1st pair, fledged 5
Satellite Site: 2017 (3rd season)
34 pair
Fledged- 102

I think to even consider an off home site for landlording demonstrates your true landlord desire and I say go for it if you have the resources and time.

That is exactly my goal too. I want to have a home colony as well as one off-site colony. I am fortunate enough to live very close to a state park, city park with lake, and a large soccer complex. I have talked to staff at all three and they have given me ok to put up martin housing.

I'm going to wait another year or two though to hopefully get things started at my home.
PMCA Member
Home Site: 2012-15 visitors
2016 - 1st pair, fledged 5
2017-18 Zero
2019- 3 Successful Prs.!
Satellite Site: 2014 - visitors
2015 - 2 pair, fledged 9
2016 - 13 pair, fledged 44
2017 - 31 pair, fledged 118
2018 - 44 pair, 163 fledged
2019- 49 or. 219 fledged
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Public sites are wonderful since they introduce more people to martins. Managing a public site may mean that you are restricted to in-house trapping only for controlling house sparrows and starlings, which makes it harder to keep the site sparrow free.

By adding housing to the park, you will likely catch some of the bigger colonies fledges next season, give them a good place to nest, and help increase local martin production.

The possible downside is that returning birds and birds looking for a site are going to go where there are other martins nearby, instead of your place. Female martins in particular would like to join an established site where there are older males to mate with, as opposed to a new site with just a subadult male there. Ten miles is nothing to a martin, I would bet birds from the large site know about your housing.

When I lived in PA, I was halfway between the PMCA's large colony and Andy Troyer's large colony - I think about 14 miles from each. I had an ideal location, houses and gourds, water very close by, controlled hosp, used srehs. Could not get martins to stay and nest - I had one pair one year, all other years I got visiting subadult males but they could not get females to stay. It's hard to say if adding more housing next to the large site might delay martins finding you -but it's something that could go either way.

I can see though, where it would be nice for you to have birds to manage close by - might as well go for it! :wink:
MB12RING
Posts: 84
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:36 pm
Location: MI, Fruitport

Thanks, everyone for the replies.

Patrick, my understanding is that the property is owned by the state and the city leases it, so I may have to go through both to get permission.

Avesrun, good luck with your home site and satelite site when you get the chance to do it.

Louise, thanks for the info. It's interesting that about halfway between 2 large colonies wasn't necessarily a good place to be. How many years were you there trying?

I have one more idea to try, there is a boat launch across the street from me and obviously right on the lake ( a 10 out of 10 spot). I might try a house set up there and see if I can slowly get them coming closer to my own set-ups. I think it was Doug Martin that did something similar and it payed off big for him in the long run.
2013, back in the game with a pair at my satelite colony that has eggs due to hatch around July 7th
MB12RING
Posts: 84
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:36 pm
Location: MI, Fruitport

Oh, and Starling Shooter, going to have to change to Starling AND Sparrow shooter.
Good luck with your lake site.
2013, back in the game with a pair at my satelite colony that has eggs due to hatch around July 7th
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Five years - I had bluebirds and tree swallows and wrens, just could not get martins to stay except for that one year. It was really fun having all them all, regardless.
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