Had an OP Ed in the paper speaking out against...

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Posts: 2172
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:58 pm
Location: Rural SE Kansas
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the martin houses in town public colony. Not sure if I should respond or not. Maybe it's best to ignore, but it did spout a lot of misinformation. The main jist of the article was that Martins don't eat mosquitos and eat mainly dragon flies, so it actually makes mosquitos worse. That's a claim that was never been made.. actually the opposite was stated in a couple different articles. They also claim we are putting up more houses, but in reality we are not. There will be less housing available. Basically summing up saying the houses are not needed.

hard to decide... pretty sure only a couple hundred people read the editorials any more anyway. Proof is it was put in last weeks Sat paper and I only heard about it today. What would you do?
2017 - Home & Public Colonies - 300 Cavities
Posts: 1126
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:02 pm
Location: ohio

I would inform people correctly. And where they can get information to inform their self.
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?
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 :-).

Dorn, I think I would speak out mainly to protect the martin's true image. They don't mainly eat dragonflies, so the writer was misinformed. Very aggrivating IMO.
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Matt F.
Posts: 3895
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

I just wanted to add something, if I may.
I'm one who is in between the two extremes.
I do not believe that Martins are constant, mosquito-eating machines, as perpetuated by the late J.L. Wade.
However, I do think the famous phrase used by Wade - "Can eat 2000 mosquitos per day", though rare, is plausible, if a Martin were to find itself in a situation where that was all that was available.
I also personally believe that on average, Martins do consume more mosquitos, than the numbers stated by the PMCA's James Hill (whom I have the utmost respect for).
One argument against the Martins' eating mosquitos, is the altitude point.
While true, Martins do mostly feed at altitudes that are higher than mosquitos fly, I for one can recall many many times, seeing Martins feeding just a few feet off the ground, over grassy areas, along with Chimney Swifts, no doubt nailing mosquitos.
Here is another factor, that for me, supports that Martins do consume more mosquitos than some believe (but certainly less than 2000) - Common Nighthawks.
We know Nighthawks, like Martins, are aerial insectivores.
We know that even though Nighthawks do a lot of feeding at night (under streetlights, etc.) they also share "feeding times" with Martins, in the evening hours.
According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency:
TWRA wrote:Researchers have documented over 500 mosquitoes in the stomachs of individual Common Nighthawks.
Again, Martins and Nighthawks are both commonly seen feeding during the evening hours (when many mosquito species are very active), at similar altitudes, and mosquitos are a noted, common food, for the Nighthawks.
I now yield back to the gentleman from Kansas. :)
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.

LOL - funny, Matt!

I would respond back. I would also highlight the unique characteristics that make purple martins the perfect bird to help educate our children about nature. Highlight the fact that they are so approachable that they CAN be nesting in a city area and people can get close to them, the nest checks, etc., etc.
Don't let incorrect information just stand out there. Doesn't matter how small a number has read it. We have a hard enough time out here educating and convincing ONE person to do it right, so if 200 people have been misinformed, we're losing the battle. Good luck!
"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 Miller
Posts: 4768
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO


Maybe in a few weeks write a "thank you" short editorial for community support.

Might explain that the feeding niche for martins is very high in the sky, where they do take some migrating dragon flies to feed their young -- we don't know if adults eat many dragon flies -- along with many harmful agricultural pests, including Japanese beetles and spotted cucumber beetles.

But the main reason to foster the tradition of people hosting these enchanting birds is that they make our own lives more interesting, and in these day of people being less and less connected to the natural world and young folks walking around non-stop texting, the presence of our colonies may encourage people to -- even for a moment -- look "up" instead of down.

How's that? .ha...you can use if you want.

John Miller
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.

I love John Miller's approach.
I will admit that I only came up with my mentoring mantra after reading posts from other Forum members.
His response to the editorial embodies those same principles,
Education, Diplomacy and Patience.
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.
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Posts: 130
Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:10 pm
Location: Saskatchewan/Grenfell

I would not stir that pot! It is a well known fact (not true) that martin's consume huge numbers (2000 or more a day) of mosquitoes, I doubt they eat mosquitoes at all. The public believe this misinformation, I would leave that sleeping dog lie! I hear it all the time your martins poo to much but look at them up there eating all those mosquitoes! The fact is dragon flies eat tones of mosquitoes and martin's eat huge numbers of dragonflies! I would not get into a public debate on how well purple martin's control mosquitoes. I think it would be better not to respond just ignore it and let it go away.
Saskatchewan "The land of living skies"
Leandortree colony
2012-46 pair 200+ Fledged
Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

It's funny what sort of information "gets legs" in the world of public information and misinformation. (why did the video I liked not go viral, when that stupid gangum style video did?) I suppose if you could start a rummer "martins are good at consuming the flying termite", then that rummer would be mostly true. Everyone hates termites and I don't know of any termite predator that is effected by martins. But I should not advocate starting rumors even when the rummer is mostly true. Plus I have no idea how you start a rummer.
Posts: 654
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2008 2:06 pm
Location: Bismarck, ND

I agree with Leandortree, I do not believe martins eat mosquitoes, if they do, I cannot imagine that they eat many of them.

It is funny a friend of ours said you have no mosquitoes here your martins must eat so many mosquitoes, I want to put up housing too. When they left I laughed and my husband asked why I did not correct her...I said because I wanted more people to host martins. I agree that martins diet consists of a lot of dragonflies. Dragonflies do eat thousands of mosquitoes.

I too would let bygones be bygones and let the news die. There are no facts to back anything up that would make your story more believable. It is too bad that the story was published as I agree that martins do NOT need anymore bad publicity.

2013 - 16 pair, 79 eggs, 71 fledged
2012 - 4 pair, 18 eggs, 18 fledged
Posts: 1941
Joined: Tue May 04, 2010 7:43 am
Location: Pratt County/Kansas
Martin Colony History: Start 2009 with one pair. Upgraded from S&K houses to two Trendsetter 12's with gourds beneath in 2013. I have experienced job, pet, and parental losses since '13. The Purple Martins lift my spirits and remind me how life continues forward by flying their little selves from Brazil back to my yard. As one forum person once told me, chin up DebA, look at the martins. Danger all around but yet they soar in the sky without a care in the world.

I like John's and Kathy's approach. But here's the thing. You were featured in the article and being from a small town it might come across that you cannot take any feedback of an altering view.

So....get TonyG to respond! He's from Parsons. It's perfect. For you and us. hehehe. :)

Pratt County, Kansas
2016 34 PAIR
2015 27 PAIR
2014 23 PAIR
2013 13 PAIR
2012 6 PAIR
2011 4 PAIR
2010 2 PAIR
2009 1 PAIR
John Barrow
Posts: 944
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:12 pm
Location: Corpus Christi / Sandia , Texas

I think martins occasionally and when convenient eat mosquitoes. I know that having a colony of martins in my yard repels bugs--flies, mosquitoes, bees and many other insects I prefer not to have around in large numbers. Those bugs are not here when the martins are, but return within days of their departure and silence.

My martins were feeding high in the sky all day. Up there where flying termites and flying ants are rumored to be swarming and migrating northward. Probably a good number of martins following those swarms up to Kansas and beyond.

Native Americans revered the purple martin, one reason being they are a beneficial crop protector. As PMCA has recognized, the purple martin is unique in that it is one of the few bird species in the world that has been nurtured and protected by humans throughout known history--not hunted and persecuted. Your town should be proud to be a purple martin capitol, and they should be proud of your work to restore that reputation.

Ignore the negative or disclose the positive. Your call. You are doing phenomenal work in Parsons.

Member/Mentor-PMCA. I do regular nestchecks and participate in PROJECT MARTINWATCH!! Coordinated 3 geolocator studies-2009, 2010 & 2013. State and Fed licensed bander (retired Jan., 2020)
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..

Deb, I'm from Parsons, but have not lived there for almost 40 years.. Andrew I think it's your call to comment on their misinformed facts. It's funny how they can comment..up to the point when you started the project nobody even noticed or cared about the sad state of affairs of the Parsons Martin Colony..and now all of a sudden they do?? I drove through town and along the main site..everything looks great..that comment probably came from some disgruntled wanna be landlord who couldn't control his own site...
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!!!!!
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.

John Barrow wrote: Native Americans revered the purple martin, one reason being they are a beneficial crop protector. As PMCA has recognized, the purple martin is unique in that it is one of the few bird species in the world that has been nurtured and protected by humans throughout known history--not hunted and persecuted. Your town should be proud to be a purple martin capitol, and they should be proud of your work to restore that reputation. Ignore the negative or disclose the positive. Your call. You are doing phenomenal work in Parsons.

I like this, and the good points that John and Kathy brought out. A nice, positive statement- not necessarily a rebuttal- would also say something regarding your character in a small town- But most importantly, keep on doing a terrific job! :grin:

"Do It Anyway"
This is the original version, but I like the Mother Teresa version the best.
~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.
James Strickland FL
Posts: 2249
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2003 8:04 pm
Location: Reidsville NC
Martin Colony History: 2017 Had a lot visitors no Matins nesting, hoping 2018 will be different.
2018 Had 1 pair
2019 had 30 pair

Martins eat a variety of insect and do not target just one type. Mosquito's primary come out in the late afternoon, which I am sure that when martins are flying low across fields are eating them. The primary eater of mosquitoes are bats. We often see them at dust and they eat them all night. Yes Martins do target Dragon Fly, but only when they are feed young at a certain stage. Dragon Fly's eat the larvae of mosquitoes and flying ones when they are just leaving the water.
Chris B
Posts: 378
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2014 4:10 pm
Location: AL/Toney

You could point out that dragonfly larvae are huge predators of small fish fry, and that keeping them in control is beneficial.

We had huge winds lately and the PMs were "on the deck" about 1 foot off the grass eating up the misquito-looking thiings that are flying around here now. They are a lot bigger than a regular blood-sucking skeeter. From what I have seen, the PMs may be catching the skeeters in their wings and eat them in the gourds or on perches.

I put up a bat box this year, hoping for a second shift of skeeter eaters.
2014 8 gourds, 3 pairs nested. Ended w/ 24 total
2015 24 gourds, 22 nests. Lotsa birds!
2016 24 gourds and good activity.
2017 32 SREH gourds. Great activity.
2018 40 SREH gourds. Good finish despite big storm damage. No more dangling gourds.
2019 56+ SREH gourds, all on 3/8 rods. Birds did very well.
2020 56 SREH gourds.
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