New Landlord in PA

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
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Posts: 32
Joined: Sun May 25, 2014 4:40 pm
Location: PA/East Waterford

I have been following this forum for seven years but have never posted until now. I finally became a landlord today. I had 4 eggs hatch. One egg has not hatched, yet. I have been able to relate with so many of you on having to continuously look out the window at my gourd rack. I have played the dawnsong for six years. Every year I would have visitors, especially subadult males; however, none could ever get a female to stay...until this year. I have cut down trees, built a pond, and even killed my truck battery a couple of mornings this year while playing the dawnsong in the cd player (my stereo broke). I think only people on this forum could relate to being that obsessive about attracting the martins. I do have a colony at the elementary school I teach at. It is about 11 miles from my house. I am a little confused about my school colony. The first year I had one pair, the second year I had 5 pair, last year I had 9 pair, and this year I only have TWO pair, and no subadult pairs. I know that I had 31 babies fledge last year, and I had a snake guard on the gourd rack. I was wondering if something could have happened during their migration. I also did nest changes for mites, etc. Also, for PA landlords I live in Huntingdon County. I don't know of any other landlords in my county. My elementary school is in Juniata County. Thanks for reading. I feel like I know so many of you from reading your posts on the forum. Now, I feel like I have something new to worry about...the babies making it to fledgling time. My wife and 3 kids have "worried" about my obsessiveness to attract purple martins, but have been "supportive." I wouldn't let the kids play soccer in the backyard until I saw that the eggs had hatched.
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2007 2:53 pm
Location: Pennsylvania/Mechanicsburg

Congratulations!!! Glad you found success!!
Trying since 2006, started hosting in 2012
T14 with 4 THG and 4 modified SG's
Gourd rack with 3 TVG's and 3 modified SG's
taxidermy lady
Posts: 2989
Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:21 am
Location: IL/Ellis Grove
Martin Colony History: Started trying to attract purple martins in 2012! It's finally happened in 2017! 5 years!!! ASY male and SY female came May 1st, fledged 5 babies!

HunterH I love your story, you were just a normal wanna be. These birds can really tug at your heart. I have cut trees and changed things so many times in the past two yrs. I sit on my back porch and wonder why that female wouldn't stay with Fred! But it's going to happen. I just have to think that way. :)

Good luck with those babies it has to be a wonderful thing. I am not sure how I will react when it happens! Also Welcome it is good to share stories with everyone,we are all in this together to make purple martins more plentiful. :)

Thankfully all our active landlords on this forum try to do their best to fledge our babies!!
Sharon from southern Illinois
Bob Allnock
Posts: 157
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 6:55 pm
Location: Portersville, Pa.

Congratulations. We are always looking for more landlords in Pa.

Keep us posted on your progress,
Bob Allnock Portersville, Pa.
4th Gen Martin Fan
Posts: 1491
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.

Let the kids play soccer in the backyard. Let them experience the martins. Let your kids hold the nestlings while you do nest checks. Let them be a part of the colony.
I know because my father let us do all of those things.
Now my sister and I are purple martin fans.
My sister has a 18 K-series gourd rack which has 5 pair in the first year and I have a Trio Grandma with 2 pair this year.
It is a daily conversation piece between my father, my sister and I.
My sister and I have influenced multiple people to start colonies.
Why? Because our father got us interested in purple martins at an early age.

My advise to you, get your kids addicted early!

Last edited by 4th Gen Martin Fan on Wed Jun 25, 2014 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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.
Posts: 1046
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: Pennsylvania/Espyville/Pymatuning Reservoir Area
Martin Colony History: Taking care of 11 active public colonies and trying to start two more in northwestern PA. Also attempting to restart another one in southwestern PA, in Collier Township's Hilltop Park. In 2017, not sure what happened but the ASY male returned and then a couple of weeks later he was gone. It could have been weather related. No other birds showed up. I had a starling nesting at the Public site that I had trouble getting rid of.
In 2018, we fledged 629 martins at all of the sites.


Congratulations on being a Purple Martin Landlord. Yes, an obsession is a good word for us martin people.

Hope everything goes well with your young, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. If you have been on the forum that long, you must have most of the basics all down, just now you are doing the real thing.

I have been dealing with some mite problems in northwestern PA, so do those weekly nest checks to keep them healthy.

Bill Hyde
Posts: 287
Joined: Sat May 08, 2004 8:59 am
Location: Illinois/Roscoe

Welcome to the "landlord status" you now enjoy! We are very happy for you and want to reassure you that the martins -- for the most part -- will learn to trust you as you do nest checks, etc. The martins in my colony seem to put up with lots of interruptions to their peaceful life such as the neighbor's dog chasing his Frisbee. About the only thing that is taboo is bumping the pole with my lawn mower.:-(
This past winter and "spring" has reduced the numbers in our colonies in the states and provinces near the Great Lakes, so do not be too disappointed if your colony size is smaller than what you are used to. One colony near me has only a single nesting pair this year; they expected their usual 20+ pairs. And we have only one SY bachelor here too. But the good news is that the other nests seem to have more nestlings than usual this summer.
Congratulations, and keep posting on the Forum.
Bill Hyde
PMCA member
2011 - 1 SY pair w/ 2 HY fledged
2012 - 5 breeding pairs
2013 - 14 nesting pairs and several singles
2014 - 8 nesting pairs
2015 - 5 nesting prs w/mostly ASY parents
Hanover Bill
Posts: 616
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

Hi HunterH;

Welcome to the ranks of "Landlord". Always glad to hear a Pennsylvania success story regarding Purple Martins. We have some great landlords in the state who are always more than happy to help with any questions or concerns.

The lack of subbies this year, and lower than normal numbers, is a common concern that has been talked about on the Forum recently. It will be interesting, after the season, to get all of the input from knowledgeable people about the causes for the low numbers. Obviously the one factor that stands out is the horrible spring weather we all experienced, but there could have been other factors at play also. I am looking forward to those discussions.

Best of luck to you.

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
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:58 am
Location: IN/Owensville

Congratulations. It took my Dad 7 years and that was about thirty + years ago. I have only been try to attract martins for a year now myself.

I have been sharing my experience with my co-workers and I think it is hard for them to understand what the attraction is for us wanting to be "Landlords". I try to explain it to them but it is hard to do until they have been bitten by the bug of attracting Purple Martins.

The whole process to me is such a delicate and fragile thing to being able to successfully attracting martins and have them raise young that first time.

I know one day I will be successful too it just a matter of doing all the right things and being patient with one of gods creatures that are so mysteriously fascinating.

Thanks for sharing your story with us and good luck to you.

2013 - 0
2014 - 0 Some lookers but no takers
2015 - three males attempted attracting a mate 1 ASY and 2 SY
2016 - became a landlord with 14 pair
2017 - 36 pr
2018 - 52 pr
2019 - 54 pr
Dan G
Posts: 403
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:52 pm
Location: PA/Bellefonte
Martin Colony History: Trying since 2014. Visitors, but no nests. Several colonies with in 6 mile radius.
2020- An SY male built a nest but could not attract a mate.

Congratulations on your landlord status. I am jealous. We are trying to establish a colony 35 miles from you, near Bellefonte. There are several colonies near us, so we are hopeful.
Bellefonte PA
2014, 1st year-a few lookers, no nests
2015, 'Spot' SY male, here every day from 5-28 to 6-23
2016 added a perch wire between house and gourd rack
offering 22 cavities, T-14 plus 8 gourds
2016, multiple visitors from 6-20 on. Almost daily
2017- Lots of visitors late in season.
2018- Adding another T-14. Few visitors
2019- Hopeful but stopped holding my breath
2020-SY male built a nest.
Posts: 391
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 11:01 am
Location: Virginia/King George
Martin Colony History: Had a colony many years ago which dwindled over a couple of years and then did not return. Kept trying each year for almost 20 years and finally had a small success in 2011 with two pairs nesting. Colony has grown slowly each year with 22 pairs in 2015. In 2016 my gourd rack of 18 gourds filled up so I added 4 more gourds and then put up a small rack of 6 gourds. All of those were claimed within a few days so I believe I have at least 25 pairs this year.

Hello Hunter,

Welcome to the Forum and thanks for posting your story. :) And Congratulations on your successful year of hosting Purple Martins! It's great to read a success story like yours and I can relate to it perfectly as I tried to re-establish my colony for well over 10 years. I did all the things you mentioned except building a pond but for most of those years I never saw a single martin. My luck finally changed in 2011 and I have enjoyed mating pairs ever since. I have only 2 or 3 SY's this year so my small colony did not grown as much as I had hoped. Maybe next year! :)

Best of Luck with your new colony.
Don~Northern Neck of Virginia-PMCA Member
Posts: 32
Joined: Sun May 25, 2014 4:40 pm
Location: PA/East Waterford

Thanks for your responses. I also thought of one thing I did differently this year, compared to the last six years. I put a metal post (that came with an aluminum house I bought seven years ago) about 15 feet away from the gourd rack. I attached two 6 ft. bamboo poles to the top of it (for perches). I had read on the forum that other people had done this. The pair I have this year constantly perches on it. At my school there is a telephone wire near the gourd rack. They are always sitting on it. I don't know if it had anything to do with them staying, but I do know that I have tried about everything else: decoys, mud smeared on openings, fake nests, daytime chatter. Maybe it was a coincidence, because I am sure for some landlords, the other techniques have caused them to stay. I also noticed that they built their nest in the gourd that faces directly toward the bamboo perch.
starling shooter
Posts: 452
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2003 7:43 pm
Location: Central MO

Congrats....Thx for posting
Posts: 521
Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2014 6:37 pm
Location: IL/Hillsboro
Martin Colony History: 2011 Home site--1 SY pair--2 fledged
2016 Satellite Site---4 pair--19 eggs laid--17 hatched--16 fledged
2017 Satellite Site--8 pair--37 eggs laid--34 hatched--34 fledged
2018 11 pair--fledged 60
2019 20 pair-fledged 94
2020 23pair-fledged 108

Congrats on your success HunterH. One less wannabe.
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