Nest identification

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Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:23 pm
Location: IL/Oglesby

I have two nests going in an 8-compartment Lone Star Goliad? My first Martins arrived in mid-June and staying so far!

I performed nest checks today - hoping that the nesting is NOT sparrow built. The nest is somewhat muddy with thicker material like small sticks about four inches long. From what I understand, sparrows fill to the top and have a visible hole, but how do I tell a sparrows' nest at the onset so I don't confuse that with a martin? I haven't seen any sparrows building or really visiting the house, but then again, I did not see any birds bringing in all the material, either!

Thanks all - just hoping my martins stay
Thanks to all,
Posts: 199
Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 10:04 am
Location: Calofornia MO

i would say its a martin nest. like you said if its a sparrow it will be full
2015 8 pair
2016 35 pair
2017 55 pair
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.

The nest of a sparrow will be light, fluffy sprigs of grass from the beginning to the end. There is scat (poop) intentionally left by the sparrows from the beginning. Poop is left in the entrance compartment and in the nest compartment. It will be interspersed among the nesting material. It almost seems to me like the sparrows are marking their territory at the beginning. I know that is not entirely true because the sparrows are very indiscriminate about their poop. If sparrows are allowed to remain in a compartment, the urea in their poop will corrode metal until there are holes in the floor and walls of the compartment. I have seen old, abandoned martin houses that are overtaken by sparrows and have been completely destroyed by the sparrow's caustic poop. I don't think that the sparrow parents even carry out their babies' poop. It reminds me of mice and rats in an old abandoned building. Poop everywhere.
The nest of a martin has coarser material laid carefully in a flat nest. Minimal poop unless it is extremely cold in early spring. In the very cold temperatures, there might be more liquid scat in the entrance compartment or porch area. My impression is that the martins are trying minimize exposure to the outside cold and are staying close to the warmth of the house or gourd. The martin nest will be very clean and neat even when the martin babies are hatched. The parents carry away the poop. Only later, when the nestlings are bigger does it become too much for the parents to keep up with. Even toward the last, the nestlings will back up to the entrance and poop out the entrance.
The mud you describe is a dead giveaway of a martin nest.
Other forum members may add to this description.
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.
Matt F.
Posts: 3895
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Here's a helpful link:

The mud definitely leans toward it being a Martin nest.

Check out this thread from Steve Kroenke also.
He posted a couple of the photos as well.
Note: The second photo is of a nest in a Lonestar Goliad:
Posts: 2008
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2004 5:35 pm
Location: Texas/San Antonio

The mud definitely leans toward it being a Martin nest.
Ya, forty-eight martin nests this year and ONE was a mud nest. Why the other martins don't do it or why this one did I dunno, we sure have had a lot of mud this year.

Since so much of bird behavior is genetic, I'm wondering if collecting mud in martins is a recessive trait like red hair, such that only a few martins have a gene for it from both parents.

...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them. Canasatego 1744
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