S & S control tipping point

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

When did you decide that you would use deadly force to control starling and house sparrows? Was there a final straw when you decided that you would need to eliminate them yourself?
GregB->AR
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:39 pm
Location: NorthWest/Arkansas

When I was about 10 years old. It was my "job". I was deemed the protector of the martins. I took my job very seriously and still do 4o some odd years later
Craig Haddox
Posts: 444
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 5:13 pm
Location: Missouri Washington

I've been a landlord for 25 years. I hated sparrows and starlings then now 25 years later I hate them even more now. Although starlings aren't a problem with SREH entrances. Sparrows on the other hand are a pain in the &&&. :evil: The only good sparrow and starling is a dead one :twisted:
~Ray~Gingerich
Posts: 2118
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 10:24 pm
Location: Delaware/Dover

I was about 10 years old, my parents and siblings went to church and I stayed home feeling ill, when they left and the car was out of sight I suddenly felt better and that's when I saw some big fat starlings on our martin house.I went for the rifle and opened my upstairs bedroom window, every shot missed the starlings but I blasted several holes all the way through the bird house and then to top it all off the storm window fell down and broke. I didn't get in trouble because I quickly cleaned it up and put in a spare panel.
~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
Hanover Bill
Posts: 615
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 3:10 pm
Location: Pennsylvania/Hanover Township
Martin Colony History: 2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72

Steve;

I have always been a live and let live sort of person, and found it very distasteful when I first learned that I would have to eliminate Starlings and Sparrows in order to be a successful Purple Martin Landlord.

That philosophy came to an abrupt end the first time I saw a HOSP in attack mode, with two visiting Martins trapped in a housing compartment. It was only by sheer luck that they were able to escape without one or both of them being killed. I found the aggressiveness of the HOSP to be shocking, it was like a small bird of prey on the attack.

Needless to say that changed my attitude completely. I still find eliminating them distasteful, but I do what I have to do for my Martins.

Hanover Bill.
2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72
chickadee
Posts: 1126
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:02 pm
Location: ohio

I figured I needed to do it a few years ago. Just by reading research online. And the sparrows peaked to death a bluebird and tree swallow inside a box. I have not had problems with sparrows and my martins. Starlings on the other hand I have and I keep them out with starling proof entrenches. That just left me with sparrow problem with all my birds not just martins. Yesterday I was filling my birdbath and heard something hit my car.... I looked down and it was a female sparrow ,I picked her up and her heart was just racing. I ran outback to put her in my sparrow trap with the males. By time I got their her eyes was closing and she died in my hands. It was awful. Not to mention my 5 year old was with me. But the way it made me feel I started questioning my actions of killing them and if it is right? All birds will fight over a cavity and martins will do it and even kill each other? I use to just clip sparrows wings and let them go. And if on a box shoot them. And I know I had a moment of weakness it's in my creature loving nature.... But soon as a sparrow sings on one of my boxes I just want it dead. And it's easy for me because I get my husband to do it. Just stay strong. In the end it's right and needs to be done in order to see more pretty birds and less trash birds.
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?
phldave
Posts: 513
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:44 pm
Location: Iowa/Pleasant Hill
Martin Colony History: Started trying in 2012 and still trying

Steve,

This being my 3rd year of trying to attract martins to stay at my place, and after that many yrs of reading about the subject and observing S&S behavior. There is absolutely no question, that one of a newbies main duties at this time is to keep the S&S controlled, so when the martins stop by they feel that our site is a much better choice, than one that has S&S pressure. Being a city site I can't shoot the pests, which would be much easier for me than trapping, like I am forced to do, so it takes alot of dedication I know, but we have to hang on to the belief that it will be worth it when we finally reap the rewards of having PM's. S&S are ruthless, so we have to be more so, since we don't have any help from martins that will help protect an established site from these pests. Keep the faith, trust me, there is no other way.

Dave
2012 late start
2013 nothing yet, lots a lookers
2014 Bust again
2015 Bust again
2016 Bust again
2017 Bust again
2018 April 14 a group joined me, but moved on after a week
2019 Had SY male seriously check me out but didn't stay
Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

Well, I guess I'll tell my story. There was no single event but a series of events stretched out over almost 25 years.

I've been birding through out the 90's and quite active many yeas. During this time, I talked to people wildlife rehabers and I talked to martin/bluebird people. Many told me about the problems with S&S killing the young. I also knew of how much work it took to rehab a sick bird. After putting the information together, I concluded, wildlife rehab was for animals that had suffered a population decline due to humans. Even though it was "nice" to save all the animals, I couldn't support that. My reasoned position was, a creatures who's population had increased significantly to to human habit alteration were not eligible for rehab. I would take a suffering animal in for euthanasia. In some since this was a cold/cruel decision, however, when it comes right down to it, there are only so many resources to go around, there are many species that don't need it.

It is simple math, that when species thrive in man made environments, chances are greatest of encountering injured individual of that species. Then in 94, It happened, I caught a grackle that could not fly. I thought should I take it in for euthanasia. My situation was complicated by the fact that my car was at home, I had traveled to the the location with my mom. I did not want to explain my position. I looked at the shiny black bird with the bright yellow piercing eyes in my hand. The thought of euthanize the bird myself crossed my mind. I felt sick to my stomach and weak, when I imagined the bird going lifeless in my hand. I dropped the live bird and ran from the situation.

A few years later around 98, I rode my motorcycle past a nice gourd rack in Cedar Creek Texas (behind where the highschool would be build a decade latter) teeming with martins almost every day on my way to work. One day, I chatted with the martineers and she told me about having to kill off HOSP. I said that yeah, I suppose that you have to do that to prevent them from killing your martins.

Around 03, I was living in Corpus Christi when I visited the Texas State Aquarium. On that day they had wildlife rehabers in and they were showing off what they did. I remember one table with a lady that was hand feeding some baby feral pigeons and a starling. My head was about to explode, ok, the pigeon was just a waste of resources, maybe it could be a learning experience for a new rehaber. But the starling! a killer of native species. I thought about walking back and demanding that she destroy that horrible thing! However, I kept my thoughts to myself.

I had read a news letter article were a species was nest raiding. The population of nest raiders soared in a man made environment. Wildlife officials had killed by them by the 10,000's, and the other birds were able to gain a foot-hold. A few months later, I visited The edge of Hurricane Claudette 2003 as it brushed the area just south of Mustang Island State Park. While experiencing this force of nature, I found and caught an injured bird. It was from that very species from the article. So my thoughts where "why spend resources helping a sick bird, when so many healthy birds were simply shot to death?". The species was in population overload due to man made conditions. I thought about calling the Aquarium and requesting euthanasia, but then I about the starling. I decided I would take maters into my own hands. I did a triage of the bird and discovered that he most likely had just a sprained wing. He could move it and flap, I thought it might recover without serious intervention. So I decided to give bird a fighting chance. I released him into the shelter of a bridge that would keep him out of the wind and rain, from there my thoughts were, "If he lived it was fine, if he died that was just nature running it's course"

A few months later, I came across a bird of the same species, my triage reviled a bird with a broken wing. I steeled my resolve, followed my convection, and euthanize the bird myself. The euthanasia did not go as smoothly as I would have liked, but in the end the bird was dead. I was stunned and horrified at what I had done and I quickly covered the corpse over in sand, so I would not see it. Over the next few weeks, I was bothered by what I had done. To relieve the guilt I re-read the article about how other species where better off with after the cull. They had killed so many, I just killed one. I also reminded myself that the I had saved the bird from a long slow death by giving him a relatively quick death.

After that, I had to race a injured female grosbeak to the Aquarium before it closed. I'm not sure of my greater motivation, to aiding species in decline, or my guilt over the judgment I had passed down on the previous bird. This time, my convection was working in the bird's favor. I had to tell myself that speeding or wrecking the car were not worth keeping the bird alive, and migrating birds die all the time. I and the bird arrived safely before it closed.

In the late 00's, I was working at a garden center in Hutto Texas. From time to time, I would have to rescues a baby mocking bird or grackle that had gotten into the store by taking it outside. One day a new HOSP had gotten into the store that was still wanting out (there were many HOSP that had started a new life inside the store). After catching the bird and holding it in my hand, I thought about S&S management for native species. I was worried about being sad at work, so I simply release the bird unharmed. (sorry Chriscreole). Oddly enough, a few months later, I had to euthanize an injured bird during my lunch hour.

I've done a few bird euthanasias since then. In November, I had inquired about the martin house on my friend's land, he gave me permission to clean up the house and evict any HOSP (he was puzzled by this). Then the first week February, I came home from work, I was looking at the martin house, and wondered if I could do what it takes to protect the martins. A few minutes later, I entered my trailer to find a male HOSP flying around. I shut the door, I thought this must be "a test". I remembered how a chickened-out with the Hutto bird. I though this this would be my first time killing a healthy bird. I chased the bird around, I culled the bird as soon as I caught it. Remembering the how HOSP would destroy native species, I was not too bothered. Last week during a slow time at work, I was worried that I had passed down a death sentience to the one HOSP that was peaceful, who was not going to harm other birds. I know that thought was illogical, that all HOSPs are programmed to kill, but sill, I did feel a bit guilty.

Well, that is my story.

Edit: word selection/grammar
Last edited by Steve Martin on Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
threelilkids
Posts: 386
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:11 pm
Location: Denham Springs, La
Martin Colony History: 2014 1 pair 3 hatched 3 fledged
2015 1 pair 5 hatched 5 fledged
2016 1 pair 5 hatched 4 fledged
2017 2 pair 8 hatched 8 fledged
2018 4 pair 15 hatched

A few years ago starlings built a nest around the fireplace pipe in attic to stay warm( smart birds) it caught our house on fire, did a lot of damage, but we didn't lose the house. Was done with starlings after that. As for sparrows they ganged up on my blue birds and ran them off until I had enough and started trapping and doing away with them. I use repeat house trap on starlings works great. For sparrows I use repeat trap on young ones and house traps on adults. Sense the starlings have been put under control I have martins landing on the house and lots more song birds coming around here, very nice.
~Ray~Gingerich
Posts: 2118
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 10:24 pm
Location: Delaware/Dover

chickadee wrote:.... But soon as a sparrow sings on one of my boxes I just want it dead.
LOL Chickadee, sparrows don't sing, they have a rusty hinge cheep cheep :)
~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
GregB->AR
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:39 pm
Location: NorthWest/Arkansas

And the shrieking of a starling is like nails on the chalkboard to me.

I have zero remorse, zero regrets and zero tolerance when it comes to starlings
Conrad Baker
Posts: 324
Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2007 7:43 pm
Location: Paulina, Louisiana

When you do your nest check, and find PM eggs that have holes pecked in them, or the female PM is dead in the corner of the house after her head was pecked in trying to protect her babies, you too will decide the time is right to start an aggressive assault on the Sparrows and Starlings. It can also happen when you are looking at your PM housing, and you see a Starling flying away with a baby PM in it's beak.
Doesn't take much to push you over the edge if you really care about your PM.
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.

When this happened:
Image
"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
Chuck4
Posts: 861
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 10:05 am
Location: North MS
Martin Colony History: I started trying to attract Purple Martins in 2011. I got my first breeding pair in 2013.

2013-1 pair, 2014-4 pair, 2015-8 pair, 2016-12 pair 60 babies :-).

Hi Steve,

This season is the first one where I even considered having to control HOSP, and it is also the season where I realized they are a pest that must be eradicated. What I've observed is if "they can't have a nest, no other bird can either" if they see it within their "territory". Not only that, their incessant chirping is so irrtating that it drives me nuts.

So far this season, I have eliminated three male HOSP (along with seven females) that have aggresively sought out my housing. I have seen so many martin houses in my area that are becoming over-run by these birds. I am battling ignorance on the part of my neighbors who keep offering a steady supply of birdseed that the HOSP love. I have no choice now but to control the HOSP population within my territory.
PMCA Member
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Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

KathyF, Yeah, I suppose if I had that picture in my mind I would not have let that HOSP I cough in the garden center live.
Anthony Neira
Posts: 1317
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:12 pm
Location: San Antonio /Texas
Martin Colony History: Started in 1992 From neighbors old 1950-60's colonies. Have 8 Trio 6 Room Houses, 4 MPP Poles, 1 Heath Deluxe Gourd with Troyer Porch, 8 NatureLine Gourds with Troyer Porches, 5 Troyer Horizontals ,& 2 S&K 11" WITH Troyer Porches ready for 2019 Season !

Wow! Every one has such strong stories, I can relate, when I first started, I saw a male sparrow go into one of my martins home and did'nt leave , when I came back to lower the pole, all the eggs were broken. That same yr. I had a Real satanic starling go on a Killing spree right befor my eyes! She went into two homes and cracked the eggs, killed and threw out all of the hatchling pm.s out (I put the one survivor in another home, and it made it!) and as the male pm came to fight her off, she killed him ! She got on top of the house gave loud victory cries, I ran in to get my airgun and when I came back, I saw a bunch of starling feathers in a ball on the ground, and I thought " Great! a pm killed her!" But THEN, the ball of feathers sprouted 4(!) Wings! one other female starling flew off to her nest in a tree, and the other (killer) flew back onto a pm porch to start the killing all over again! (she had tried to kill the other female starlin!) As she turned in the porch, I was fast walking , gun ready ,on shoulder,pointed up, aiming, and as she cried another victory yell, I gave the BEST shot of my life and shot her in mid cry IN THE NECK! , she fell on the porch ( did'nt give me the satisfaction on watching her fall to the ground!) With her neck, beak open, over the rail. With anger and joy/heartache, I got a ladder nearby, and lowered the house, I Ran up the ladder, saw her limp body with lots of her blood on the porch, I threw her down, and thought "great she's even making me clean up even more!". As I looked down, SHE WAS GONE! as I stood on the ladder in shock that this was Satan's "chucky" bird from he*=, I saw her being carried away by one of our spayed feral cats who never liked me , in her mouth!
klcretired
Posts: 2174
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 3:06 am
Location: Grand Prairie,Tx

Steve,
When I returned from Vacation and my whole colony was completely Wiped Out ...That is when I went on a Campaign to get rid of all the Trash Beaks, I purchased The S & S repeating Controller from the pmca It has been a Great trap that traps all year long every year and when placed next to a tree or close to a building a martin won't go near it, out of all the years I have been trapping I have never caught a Martin , I also purchased Gourd Traps , PM Housing Traps along with Shooting, In the off season while my Martins are not here at my Location I use Glue Traps and Mouse Traps they also work Great...Now after all my perseverance I do not get any unwanted pests and it's really nice to host just Martins , I get my coffee & Bailey's sit on my Patio and watch just my Martins, Don't ever stop getting rid of the S & S's in time you will be rid of them.
Pictures Taken with Canon Rebel XT Digital using a Sigma 50-500 Long Lens.

Wishing everyone a Great Martin Year
Happy Martining for 2020 to everyone,

K.C.

klcretired@tx.rr.com
MamaBruff
Posts: 1466
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:21 pm
Location: SW Missouri
Martin Colony History: 2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.

Years of gradual progression lead to my "tipping point" As a child, I observed and listened to my Gramp as he was tending his Purple Martins. "Darn Sparrows," he said, as he cleaned their nests out of his Grandpa House. He would send us grandkids up in other places he couldn't reach, to remove S&S nests. Of course, I learned from all this that S&S were "bad guys".

Later as an adult, I tried to have BB and PM housing on more than one occasion, but gave up out of frustration due to S&S pressure. I was ignorant of traps, a poor shot, and ignorant regarding birdseed as well. The feeders were removed, and the houses came down, given away to a co worker who had Purple Martins at her farm.

Then we moved to the country in Feb 2013. In my mind, an ideal spot to put up a good Purple Martin house- my life long dream.... a hobby to nurture and enjoy into my 80's, like my Gramp and Gram did... So I researched, studied, and planned. My tax return bought the Trendsetter house I wanted, and some accessories and traps. So here we go. Martin house went up; Bluebird houses went up. Spring flowers emerged. Chickadees and BBs nesting in the BB houses. Life was good... Boy, was I a fool...

Remember that picture of the nestling massacre that Kathy posted above?
That's exactly what happened to my Chickadees!! The whole clutch of 6 plus the Mama was dead on the ground, and a male HOSP on the house CHEEPING away! Poor Mr. Chickadee was beside himself! I was heartbroken, and angry as you would imagine, sobbing and screaming to God, on my knees, as I picked up the little bloody bodies. That picture is burned into my mind. It took the rest of the day, but I won that battle, and resolved that I would never, ever allow that to happen again. I had gone over that tipping point.
~Mary B~

Lifelong PM Admirer and Nature Enthusiast.
Ruthless trapper of S&S year round.
2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.
jacobweston
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun May 25, 2014 11:15 am
Location: 389 N 3855 E, Rigby, ID 83442

klcretired wrote:Steve,
When I returned from Vacation and my whole colony was completely Wiped Out ...That is when I went on a Campaign to get rid of all the Trash Beaks, I purchased The S & S repeating Controller from the pmca It has been a Great trap that traps all year long every year and when placed next to a tree or close to a building a martin won't go near it, out of all the years I have been trapping I have never caught a Martin , I also purchased Gourd Traps , PM Housing Traps along with Shooting, In the off season while my Martins are not here at my Location I use Glue Traps and Mouse Traps they also work Great...Now after all my perseverance I do not get any unwanted pests and it's really nice to host just Martins , I get my coffee & Bailey's sit on my Patio and watch just my Martins, Don't ever stop getting rid of the S & S's in time you will be rid of them.
Getting rid of pest now days has become very easy with a number of pest exterminator available in market. Recently when I was dealing with a similar problem of pest in my house, I contacted pest control team of my area and they sprayed best quality and Eco friendly pesticides in my home and from then I have never seen a single mosquito in my house.
Chuck4
Posts: 861
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 10:05 am
Location: North MS
Martin Colony History: I started trying to attract Purple Martins in 2011. I got my first breeding pair in 2013.

2013-1 pair, 2014-4 pair, 2015-8 pair, 2016-12 pair 60 babies :-).

jacobweston wrote:
klcretired wrote:Steve,
When I returned from Vacation and my whole colony was completely Wiped Out ...That is when I went on a Campaign to get rid of all the Trash Beaks, I purchased The S & S repeating Controller from the pmca It has been a Great trap that traps all year long every year and when placed next to a tree or close to a building a martin won't go near it, out of all the years I have been trapping I have never caught a Martin , I also purchased Gourd Traps , PM Housing Traps along with Shooting, In the off season while my Martins are not here at my Location I use Glue Traps and Mouse Traps they also work Great...Now after all my perseverance I do not get any unwanted pests and it's really nice to host just Martins , I get my coffee & Bailey's sit on my Patio and watch just my Martins, Don't ever stop getting rid of the S & S's in time you will be rid of them.
Getting rid of pest now days has become very easy with a number of pest exterminator available in market. Recently when I was dealing with a similar problem of pest in my house, I contacted pest control team of my area and they sprayed best quality and Eco friendly pesticides in my home and from then I have never seen a single mosquito in my house.

:lol: :lol:
PMCA Member
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