Need advice on predator pole guards

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G Saner
Posts: 114
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:37 pm
Location: TX/Kerrville
Martin Colony History: Fort Worth, TX (1967-1976), The Colony, TX (1981-1985), Carrollton, TX (1986-2013), Kerrville, TX (2015-present).

Two SuperGourd poles (12 gourds on each) at River Point Assisted Living Center.

I have moved and will be installing a new pole at my new location. Also, I already have two new mentees that I want to advise correctly on various predator pole guards options.

#1. What is the recommended diameter for a PVC pole guard? How tall does it need to be? How do you seal the top to keep rain out?

#2. An upside down 5 gallon pail might be a good option for one of my mentees. How high does the top of the pail need to be above the ground? Can the pail wobble?

#3. One of my mentees is a handyman and would like to make his own metal cylinder pole guard. What is the correct diameter and length to be effective? Advice on materials and fabrication would be appreciated.
G Saner
Mhoover
Posts: 214
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 10:30 am
Location: Indiana/Monticello - White County
Martin Colony History: Started with 2 pair in 2014 - 7 eggs -7 fledged

Here is link to some good information on predator guards.

http://purplemartin.org/update/13(1)PoleGuards.pdf
2017-5 pair
2016-4 pair- 18 hatched-18 fledged
2015-1 pair -Both ASY- 6 eggs-5 fledged
2014-2 pair- 1 ASY-M/SY-F-1 ASY pair - 7 eggs-7 fledged

PMCA Member
Emil Pampell-Tx
Posts: 6743
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 1:26 pm
Location: Tx, Richmond (SW of Houston)
Martin Colony History: First started in Gretna, La in 1969 with a small homemade house, have had martins ever since at 2 different homes in Texas

Recommended height of a pvc guard is 4ft or more. The diameter is not critical but 6in diameter up to 12in diameter is probably the best. Close the top so martins do not fall into the pvc guard. Rain will not hurt the pvc.

There are many different types of guards, most of them work some of the time, but few work all of the time. A 5gallon bucket mounted high, one that wobbles, may work fairly good, but keep the bucket at least 5 or 6 ft above the ground (keep in mind that a snake may use the winch, cable, or anything else to get above the bucket)

Making a metal cylinder guard may work good, especially if it wobbles, but the snake can use the rivets, splices, hinges, latches, etc to climb over it.

There are many opinions what is best, but an electric fence charger is the best in my opinion. It stops both snakes and racoons if properly installed.
PMCA Member, 250 gourds, 6 poles, 2traps
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
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Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Here are plans for a build-it-yourself stovepipe guard: http://www.purplemartin.org/update/PredBaff.html

The size of stovepipe can be increased to 8 inch diameter, 36 inches long - it's important to place any guard high enough to stop raccoons (top of guard not less than 4 ft above ground level) BUT keep in mind, as Emil mentioned, snakes can use things like winches, rope cleats, even rope or cable, to bypass guards. A guard that covers the winch or rope cleat would be helpful.

We are using electric guard now, charged by solar battery, runs to two poles. Those are a build it yourself affair, but there are some good posts about them here.
John Miller
Posts: 4771
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Techniques vary, but when assembling the stove pipe guard, I use a hose clamp to hang three "L" brackets, about two-inch brackets, on a round pole, or maybe four on a square pole. Use the wire mesh or a couple of pieces in the top as described. Snapping the cylinder shut is tricky. I place it around the pole open, then let it rest on the ground and I set on the ground too and place my hands around it and press in on the seam side with my thumbs until the seam snaps shut.
Matt F.
Posts: 3900
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Louise Chambers wrote:We are using electric guard now, charged by solar battery, runs to two poles.
No doubt sending a "zap"......:mrgreen:
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
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Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Matt, however did you guess? hee :wink:
My favorite words: zip, zippy, zap

One day I noticed repeated zapping noises coming from the electric guards, thought it was wind blowing grass blades against the hot wires - but it turned out to be an ant fry! Ants were climbing some grass and then onto the hot wires, each one turning quickly to ant-bacon. I wonder if the electric current lured them in & up? I think they were fire ants but I don't know, did NOT test that theory.
G Saner
Posts: 114
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:37 pm
Location: TX/Kerrville
Martin Colony History: Fort Worth, TX (1967-1976), The Colony, TX (1981-1985), Carrollton, TX (1986-2013), Kerrville, TX (2015-present).

Two SuperGourd poles (12 gourds on each) at River Point Assisted Living Center.

Thanks to all for the great advice and links. Three more questions.

One. Can a snake use the stove pipe seam to climb the guard?

Two. Does the top of the guard need to be see-through (hardware cloth) or can it be solid (a stove pipe cap)?

Three. I know the distance from the ground to the TOP of the guard should be at least 4 feet. Should the distance from the ground to the BOTTOM of the guard be at least a certain number of feet?

Gary
G Saner
John Miller
Posts: 4771
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Some larger snakes can get past the guard. they are amazing climbers. If snakes are a risk, I suggest a large fluffy wad of 3/4 inch bird netting placed on the pole above the guard as a backup, should a snake get that far. I attach it in a layered wad with a bungee cord; you can make a sort of wire wreath holder.

A guard with a "window" in the top with the mesh may encourage the snake to try to go up through the guard rather than past it -- that's a theory and the PMCA EZ off guards incorporate mesh holes for this reason.

If the top of a 24 inch long guard is four feet off the ground, the bottom would be two feet. Yes, might help thwart snakes to be a foot higher off the ground (we'd need an expert on snake anatomy maybe) but this may make lowering the pole to a height where you can access the housing without a ladder more of a problem. I observed a black rat snake this summer climbing up a trellis on my porch and reaching out about 1.5 foot -- with ease -- to a birdhouse gourd. Fortunately no bird was home, but the snake impressed me with it's ability to reach. Don't underestimate them. The stove pipe guards are mostly for raccoons -- add netting if snakes are a risk.

John
Last edited by John Miller on Wed Oct 01, 2014 1:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

One. Can a snake use seam (or hardware, like heads of screws) to climb guard?

Yes, they can - one landlord uses that slick brown packing tape (used to seal boxes) over the seam and says that fixes the problem for him. Others use a stovepipe section with no seam, which is ideal - but must be put onto the pole before house or rack is mounted to pole. Another option is to add netting above the stovepipe, to catch any snakes that make it past the guard.

Two. Does the top of the guard need to be see-through (hardware cloth) or can it be solid (a stove pipe cap)?

It may help to use mesh for top, so snake does not sense that top is solid and then goes around outside of guard instead of continuing up the pole. The PMCA's stovepipe guard has mesh panels for that reason.

Three. I know the distance from the ground to the TOP of the guard should be at least 4 feet. Should the distance from the ground to the BOTTOM of the guard be at least a certain number of feet?

The 4 ft above ground rule is for stopping large raccoons. The stovepipe guard wobbles, which helps. Some plans for the guard call for larger diameter of 8 inches and length of 36 inches instead of 24 - but for martin landlords, the extra height could interfere with lowering your system for nest checks, depending on how high the guard is mounted.
We hang ours from the safety bolt, just above head height, and it's about as high as we can reach (ours hinge open and remove for nest checks). So can't say if there is a specific height above ground for bottom of guard, only for top.
klcretired
Posts: 2174
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 3:06 am
Location: Grand Prairie,Tx

G Saner
you should consider an electric fence charger , many pm land lords on this site use electric fence chargers and are knowledgeable in telling you how to setup a electric fence charger to your pole. It's fast, easy and no need to use bird netting, etc,etc.

Emil, Tim , JL and others you can chime in at any time to help.
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
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