Introduction and two newbie questions.

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Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

Hello all, I am staying near Bastrop Texas. I am a new landlord. I've talked to birders and martineers in the past. However, this would be my first attempt at being a martin landlord. I am "inheriting" a martin house that was not maintained in the past. The martin house is on a friend's land. His parents used to live in the house next to the martin house, but now he lives there. I'm staying next-door to that sub-property. My fiend has given me permission to tend the box and "take care" of HOSP.

According to my friend and his parents, the house had martins in the past. However, I find it hard to believe that there have been any martins in recent years. My friend said, some years his parents would clean out the box before the start of the season, and some years not. I lowered the house, to find most cavities were filled with old HOSP nests.

I'm not going to complain about a free martin house, but is a no-frills model. It is a PVC apartment style house with 12 holes that looks something like this (see photo). The house is on a crank-less telescoping pole. Is has 4 telescoping sections and 3 keys to lock the sections in place to keep gravity from collapsing the telescope. I lubed up the pole with garage door silicone spray and I've been practicing raising and lowering the pole without tilting it or spinning it too fast. I just started using a pre-cut measuring tape to make sure I don't over-extend, This morning raising was easier.

I would be ecstatic if martins nested in 2014. However, I am setting my goals low. I would consider it a success if any native bird were to take up residence in the house. I have set my goal low, because I have time limits due to career goals and I don't know how long I'll be staying at my current location.

I have two questions that I did not find in the F.A.Q.

1. With holes on two sides of the apartment, do you all think that orientation could be a factor? Specifically should the angle of the sun be taken into account to determine orientation. Should I worry about pointing the holes towards the clearing (away from the tree).

2. Does it bother the martens it the orientations or height is different after the house is raised.

PS. While registering for this site on the 21th. I saw my first martins of the season over the gourds Bastrop Walmart parking lot.
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Vern1
Posts: 471
Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2007 2:06 pm
Location: Pettytown, Texas, US of A

Welcome Steve,
I'm down the road in Red Rock area and have seen Martins in the WalMart parking lot for years. The lady that got me hooked on Martins in the 60's lived across the river a few blocks from the Court House.
There are some pretty nice colonies in the area including a couple of 100plus pairs in Cedar Creek and Blue Bonnet Acres that I have seen.
Plenty of Martins in the area and not as many folks have colonies as in the past so every addition is welcome!

As far as what direction works best, can't answer that but if it was me, I would put holes east/west so they can all get some south breeze when it gets hot here.

When you lower and raise your house, be careful to keep it oriented the same way when you raise it - lots of folks put numbers on each cavity to keep records and it might help to make sure they point the same direction each time. A few degrees may not make any difference but if you turn it 90, it will probably throw them off.

Hope that helps!
Cheers,
Joe
2015 - 40 cavities - 37 pair - fledged 172
2016 - 40 cavities - 38 pair - fledged 192
Hosting Purple Martins since 1976...Managing since 2006.
chickadee
Posts: 1126
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:02 pm
Location: ohio

If you attract martins in 2014. And don't stay in your current location? Who will tend to the house next year when they return? You do know they come back year after year? Just want to make sure I understand your post. Sounds like you may not be their to tend to them come next year.
2008 first year 1 pair. 2009 3 pair. 2010 7 pair. 2011 20 pair . 2012 44 pair 280 eggs 210 fledged. 2013 67 pair. 2014?
jr 2
Posts: 749
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 3:20 pm
Location: ohio,proctorville(just across ohio river from huntington,west virginia)

you can use a permeant marker too mark your pole so it won't go too high and come out;;I put a big ring around mine;;jr2
PMCA member; s 2011 2 pair fledged 3; 2012 3 asy pair,4 sy pair,2013 8 asy pair,6 sy pair;2014 19 asy pair,2 sy pair
Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

chickadee wrote:If you attract martins in 2014. And don't stay in your current location? Who will tend to the house next year when they return? You do know they come back year after year? Just want to make sure I understand your post. Sounds like you may not be their to tend to them come next year.
If/when I leave, the house will still be up in the same location, it will just revert to the land owner. My relationship with the land owner is complicated (I did not want to go into detail of my personal situation). I would like for him to maintain it, but I'm not sure if he is willing to put much time into it. Maybe if he sees the Martins/Flycatchers he/his family may take more interest in the house.

It is my impression that the martin house and other houses were just "thrown up" to give his parents something to look at. It did not matter if it was native or invasive species. It is possible that martins fledged from the house in 2013, I did not take a close enough look at the house early enough, I was just visiting then.

Since my relationship with the land owner is tenuous, I'm not sure how I would convince him that it is better to get rid of the house rather than let it become a HOSP haven. I guess, my idea is, if this year the is one extra space for a native spices to breed this year it would be better than having the house be a HOSP haven this year.
Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

jr 2 wrote:you can use a permeant marker too mark your pole so it won't go too high and come out;;I put a big ring around mine;;jr2
I think I'll try permanent marker in addition to the pre-cut measuring tape which is actually a piece of flexible wire with a loop at one end. It was measured and cut such that (when hung from the key, the end of the wire aligns to the edge of a 48 inch section of tubing.) The wire is nice when I'm 18 inches or more from the end of the tube, but the marker might be better for precision alignment. I was reluctant to depend on the marker, because I was afraid it would get rubbed off. This might happen due the lube and the telescoping action. I tried scratching the post, but the scratch was hard to read and there was no warning I got to within 6 inches of the mark.
4th Gen Martin Fan
Posts: 1483
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:19 pm
Location: TN/Collierville
Martin Colony History: I have been exposed to purple martin sounds in utero when my mother went out to get my father away from his martin colony.
I played around the martin colony every summer and watched as my father maintained his colony. In the late 50's until the 70's he did not notice European Starlings in south Texas.
When old enough, I helped maintain his colony. My primary task was eliminating English House Sparrows with a 1956 Benjamin 317 .177 air rifle.
When I settled into my own home, I started my first colony with an original Trio Castle and Trio Grandpa. When I moved again, I did not put up any martin houses. Frustration with European Starlings in the Southeast US was overwhelming.
Found PMCA Forum and learned about modern enlarged compartments and SREHs.
Inherited my father's last martin house, a Trio Grandma, modified it to modern specifications and have had good results since then.

Steve,
The permanent marker works great on telescoping poles.
Get the orientation and height that you want. Then with a wide permanent marker, make a circle around the pole for height and a vertical mark across each joint for compass orientation.
I avoid scratching any zinc or galvanized coating on steel poles which might promote rust.
I avoid messing with the pole after the martins have bedded down for the night.
Mark.
Mark.
Firm believer in HOSP/EUST Control, Enlarged Compartments, SREHs, Pole Predator Guards, Owl/Hawk Guards, Mite/Parasite Control, Housing Insulation, and Vents for Compartment Cooling.
PMCA Member.
Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

After reading up on all the martin info here and the posts here, I'm starting to get a bit discouraged. I'm not sure I can make the commitment need to get anywhere with the house I started tending. The house seams to function more as a lure to HOSP and starlings rather than martins or any native species. I guess my next step is to place starling guards over the big round hole. The land owner has basically turned over the house to me. He thinks it's strange that I worry about which type of birds are living in the house. To him, starlings and HOPS are just as interesting as any other bird. If the house was not already in place, I would have never suggested that a house be erected.

I did number the 12 holes. I also oriented the house so that I can see which holes the HOSPs are attempting to nest in. I started thinking about setting up HOSP traps in the house. Upon examining the house I realized that each nesting cavity is not well isolated from the next cavity. If a HOSP was caught by a simple door trap it would be able to squeeze over into the next compartment to get out.

In the 1990's I talked to martineers. I've thought about taking over the house since November, and I wondered if I would be willing to do what it takes to control HOSP. Around Feb 10th or 14th,a male HOSP pushed his way into my trailer through the stove vent, he was flying around. I made up my mind to cull the bird and I did. It hasn't bothered me too much. I would say, I have euthanize a few non-releasable birds that I did not take to Austin Area Wildlife Rehabilitation. The euthanasias sadden me a bit. I have talked to enough people to realize that, with a constant supply of non-releasable, even in the extremely unlikely event my bird was placed, a different non-releasable would be euthanize. It was a bit different with the HOSP, It was the first time that I killed a healthy bird.

PS. I believe that the house in the picture at the top of this post is the exact model my friend purchased some years ago.
John Miller
Posts: 4769
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Steve
Welcome. I would turn the openings toward the flyway, not the tree, but sometimes martins nest in houses that lack good flyways entirely, so this is a recommendation but not an absolute. Yes, as others said, keep the same orientation when raising.

Sounds like the site has a lot of houses sparrows. This topic seems to generate more questions than any other. If you get martins, it's important to have an understanding as best one can of house sparrow behavior, otherwise you may do more harm than good, inciting male house sparrow revenge and generally making any nesting sparrows at the location meaner. There are several good articles on house sparrows in the archives by experienced landlord Steve Kroenke.

http://www.purplemartin.org/forumarchiv ... evenge.htm

http://www.purplemartin.org/forumarchiv ... compet.htm
good luck to you,
John Miller
Last edited by John Miller on Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Matt F.
Posts: 3895
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Steve Martin wrote:I guess my next step is to place starling guards over the big round hole.
Hi Steve.
The house you posted a photo of, is a Heath PH-12 house.
Even though there are easier houses to manage, they are also many that are harder to manage, than that model.
If the house is still equipped with the original, unmodified, 6"X6" compartments, then there's not a big need for starling resistant entrances.
Starlings will generally not nest in those small compartments.
If you do decide to enlarge the compartments to 6"X12", by cutting the interior room dividers, then placing starling resistant entrance plates would be highly suggested.
From what you've described, it sounds like your biggest battle, is going to be with house sparrows.
Another option, is to place a repeating, baited trap near the housing, like this one:
http://shop.purplemartin.org/PMCA_Repea ... tails.aspx
Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

Matt F. wrote:If the house is still equipped with the original, unmodified, 6"X6" compartments, then there's not a big need for starling resistant entrances. Starlings will generally not nest in those small compartments.
That is good to know. I guess the starlings just went into the holes and decided that it was too small and left. (keeping my fingers crossed)
chickadee
Posts: 1126
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:02 pm
Location: ohio

I left a house up at my moms when I moved out years ago. With 6x6 compartments. I went for a visit and a starling made a nest in it so big it pushed the front out and opened it more. Here they will try to nest in it. And even if not you don't want them to go inside and maybe kill babies. I would just make sure trash birds can't get in.
2008 first year 1 pair. 2009 3 pair. 2010 7 pair. 2011 20 pair . 2012 44 pair 280 eggs 210 fledged. 2013 67 pair. 2014?
Matt F.
Posts: 3895
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

chickadee wrote:I left a house up at my moms when I moved out years ago. With 6x6 compartments. I went for a visit and a starling made a nest in it so big it pushed the front out and opened it more. Here they will try to nest in it. And even if not you don't want them to go inside and maybe kill babies. I would just make sure trash birds can't get in.
Steve,
Chickadee brings up another great point.
Even though I had mentioned that starlings "generally" won't nest in small, 6"X6" compartments, as Chickadee pointed out, there are definitely cases in which they will.
Starlings have been known to also go marauding through house compartments, damaging nests and their contents, even if in the end they decide not to nest there.
You best defense, and best for the Martins, is to expand those compartments, converting the house from 12, 6"X6" compartments, to a house with 6, 6"X12" compartments, and the placing starling resistant entrance plates on the compartment entrances.
Here's a good article on expanding compartments.
Even though the article talks about Trio houses, the idea of cutting the internal compartment dividers is still the same.
http://www.purplemartin.org/update/9(3)trio.html
DornCounty
Posts: 2172
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:58 pm
Location: Rural SE Kansas
Martin Colony History: .
.
Trio-Jedi

chickadee wrote:I left a house up at my moms when I moved out years ago. With 6x6 compartments. I went for a visit and a starling made a nest in it so big it pushed the front out and opened it more. Here they will try to nest in it. And even if not you don't want them to go inside and maybe kill babies. I would just make sure trash birds can't get in.
Same here.. had several starling nests in 6x6
2017 - Home & Public Colonies - 300 Cavities
jr 2
Posts: 749
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 3:20 pm
Location: ohio,proctorville(just across ohio river from huntington,west virginia)

I started out years ago with round hole trio 6x6 compartments and I couldn't kreep the starlings out of them;;jr2
PMCA member; s 2011 2 pair fledged 3; 2012 3 asy pair,4 sy pair,2013 8 asy pair,6 sy pair;2014 19 asy pair,2 sy pair
Don Troha
Posts: 350
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:14 pm
Location: Texas/Houston

Upon examining the house I realized that each nesting cavity is not well isolated from the next cavity. If a HOSP was caught by a simple door trap it would be able to squeeze over into the next compartment to get out.
That's true for the top floor of the Heath house. You can get an insert trap that fits inside the compartment. PMCA sells one I think. The problem I had with this house is that once the babies were old enough to crawl, they figured out how to climb the walls and moved around the house from compartment to compartment. Mom & Dad sometimes had to search the compartments to find a mouth to feed.

Other problem is that the ends of the porches are open and the babies can push each other over the edge. You might want to block the ends of the porches with something like a perching rod.
2019 - 14 pair, 61 fledged
2018 - 15 pair, 63 fledged
2017 - 11 pair, 46 fledged
2016 - 5 pair, 22 fledged
2015 - 3 pair, 13 fledged
2014 - 3 pair, 12 fledged
2013 - 3 pair, 12 fledged
2012 - 2 pair, 8 fledged
2011 - 1 pair, 2 fledged
Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

Don Troha wrote:
Upon examining the house I realized that each nesting cavity is not well isolated from the next cavity. If a HOSP was caught by a simple door trap it would be able to squeeze over into the next compartment to get out.
That's true for the top floor of the Heath house. You can get an insert trap that fits inside the compartment. PMCA sells one I think.
Yeah, I looked around for some, now that I know the exact model of my house I could find one that will fit. My problem is that I am currently living in poverty and I really don't need to spend money on the martins. I'm just looking for something to give me hope, while I am working to upgrade my financial situation.
Don Troha wrote:The problem I had with this house is that once the babies were old enough to crawl, they figured out how to climb the walls and moved around the house from compartment to compartment. Mom & Dad sometimes had to search the compartments to find a mouth to feed.
It seems that some plastic that is hard enough hold it's shape and soft enough to cut with scissors combined with some doubled stick foam tape, should be able to remedy this situation in a frugal manner. I'm just not sure it would hold a ticked-off HOSP.
Don Troha
Posts: 350
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:14 pm
Location: Texas/Houston

Here's a post by a member who used a corrugated plastic sign to construct a ceiling for the top floor of the house. Scroll to the bottom and read the last post.
http://www.purplemartin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4710
More tips on how to host Martins with this house can be found by doing a forum search for Heath house.
2019 - 14 pair, 61 fledged
2018 - 15 pair, 63 fledged
2017 - 11 pair, 46 fledged
2016 - 5 pair, 22 fledged
2015 - 3 pair, 13 fledged
2014 - 3 pair, 12 fledged
2013 - 3 pair, 12 fledged
2012 - 2 pair, 8 fledged
2011 - 1 pair, 2 fledged
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