Friend or Foe

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
DavidJ
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:04 pm
Location: New Braunfels TX
Martin Colony History: 2016 21 pair 87 eggs

I have a neighbor whos fence backs up to mine. They put a life size Owl and a Hawk up right next to the fence line. My birds keep dive bombing the Hawk and Im worried they will spend to much time doing this and not enough time eating and feeding their young and also sitting on the eggs.Any advice or thoughts?
John Miller
Posts: 4771
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Oh my.

Hopefully the martins by my typing of this will have figured out the owl and hawk are plastic and disregard them.

Neighbors..whew. I suppose if these neighbors are annoyed because you have a very very large colony you could try to ask them to give you to the end of the season and you will downsize next year.. don't get into a lot of dialogue ...but you can calmly approach and ask. Maybe they think martins are going to bother their garden or something.

I suppose you could put a chair out by the fence near the decoys and sit out there yourself just to muddy the water and maybe calm the birds a bit. Maybe if the martins see the owl isn't flying away with you there, they will know it's plastic...maybe a dumb idea, but trying to think of something.

hang in there. Neighbors...just don't escalate. Been there...stay calm.
DavidJ
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:04 pm
Location: New Braunfels TX
Martin Colony History: 2016 21 pair 87 eggs

They have been up since Friday. And as of today (Sunday) they are still dive bombing the Hawk. They don't seem to mind the Owl.

I got permission from the homeowners association before putting it up. Thank goodness! I have 24 gourds and they all have a Martin nest. I was planning to put another house up this January since this one filled up in its first year. The cost of this house was a wee bit to much to down size or replace it with a smaller one.

We have only been here for 8 months and had met the wife and it went well and she was nice. I haven't done anything at all that would be seen as agressive. They did call the game warden and reported me for shooting sparrows and come to find out he said they are protected! You could have pushed me over with a feather! I did shoot at the pests many times but something is wrong with my scope and didn't get one hit. Which I did tell the game warden. So snyhow something went way wrong! I'm going to use patents and see how it works out. Thanks for the reply! I as you did figured it was an aggressive move on their behalf. I will keep you posted!
warbird
Posts: 199
Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 10:04 am
Location: Calofornia MO

are you saying sparrows are protected? never heard of that. they are not protected here
joe
2015 8 pair
2016 35 pair
2017 55 pair
DavidJ
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:04 pm
Location: New Braunfels TX
Martin Colony History: 2016 21 pair 87 eggs

YES!!!! I had a Texas Game Warden call me because a neighbor called them saying I was shooting them. Which I had been shooting at them but my scope is bad I guess because every time I sited it in I still couldnt even tell where I was hitting! Never hit not even ONE of the pests! He said they are protected! I laughed and said you have to be kidding me! He wasnt!
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

It is my understanding that native sparrows and other native songbirds are protected by the Migratory Bird Act but English House Sparrows are not a native bird and neither are Starlings. Maybe you need to explain to the game warden exactly what bird you were trying to kill.
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
DavidJ
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:04 pm
Location: New Braunfels TX
Martin Colony History: 2016 21 pair 87 eggs

Lol! Yes I think I do need to explain this to him! I did some research on my own and found this stating he is dead wrong! From the Texas Parks and Wildlife web page.

Wild Birds: All wild birds that migrate through or are indigenous to Texas, along with their plumage or other parts, eggs, nests and young are protected from harming, killing and/or possession by state and federal law except that European starlings, English sparrows, and feral pigeons may be killed at any time and their nests and eggs may be destroyed. A permit is not required to control grackles; cowbirds; yellow-headed, red-winged, rusty or Brewer's blackbirds; crows or magpies when these birds are considered a nuisance or causing a public health hazard. No birds may be controlled by any means considered illegal by local city or county ordinance.

So I was right that I could be shooting the pests! Ha! If I could figure out how to copy and post a picture of the page I would. He was probably one of my pesky neighbors brother or brother-in-law !!!
Mudflap
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:07 am
Location: SE Ohio
Martin Colony History: 2011: Set up 16 room S&K house.
2012: nothing.
2013: lookers but no takers.
2014: lookers but no takers.
2015: 3 pair nested, 7 fledged.
2016: second year: S&K house is now an 8 room house and added a separate pole with eight Troyer Vertical Gourds. 13 pair nested, 50 fledged.
2017: third year: S&K house is now a 6 room house (blocked attic access). Same Troyer gourds.

I found it hard to believe that HOSP's being protected was correct, but also know it would be pointless to tell a Game Warden he was wrong. I don't know how I'd react if a Game Warden came along and told me flat-out that I couldn't eliminate HOSP's. I know I'd tell him he was wrong (without using those words) and then follow up through the state office to verify. At least you know for sure you CAN get rid of them.
DavidJ
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:04 pm
Location: New Braunfels TX
Martin Colony History: 2016 21 pair 87 eggs

Here is a letter emailed to us by the neighbor who called the game warden on us.
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Okie
Posts: 541
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:26 pm
Location: Claremore, OK
Martin Colony History: 2016 Informed landlord now Have 2 pair returning from 2015 That is a miracle. Hoping for a very successful year, sparrow population on decline.
First house was plastic with crescent holes Had martins within a few days. Ignorant landlord gradually lost them
Then got Trio House and still lost most of them. Lots of sparrows

Wow David what a position to be in. I have seen pics of others sites in close neighborhoods and hope they comment here as to their experience with neighbors.
Question for those landlords:
Do martins really leave THAT much poop?

If I am correct you have 24 pair?
My situation is a very close neighbor one also. I only have 1 pair as the 2nd were run off by an egg smashing sparrow Ugh
But their flight path goes between just two houses. I was planning on a 24 gourd rack next year & could easily end up in the same situation.
I am looking forward to some neighborhood landlords commenting.
Good luck with your situation
Okie
PMCA member
2016 Started with 2 pair, 1 pair abandoned after HOSP destroyed eggs
1 pair= 6 eggs, 6 fledged
2017 1 pair so far, But they abandoned before nest complete for ?reason? Now Bridless and joined the Wannabes
2018 One pair ASY male SY female 5 eggs, 5 fledged
DavidJ
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:04 pm
Location: New Braunfels TX
Martin Colony History: 2016 21 pair 87 eggs

We are not having much poop! I had one spot on each or our cars this morning and it hasn't rained now in 3 days. My wife took a picture of one half of roof of the 3000 kids playhouse and it shows no poop. I would think there would be a lot more because the birds are dive bombing the hawk/eagle so much.
Thais G
Posts: 93
Joined: Mon May 05, 2014 6:37 pm
Location: CT/Darien
Martin Colony History: Started at unsuitable location in 2008. Many lessons learned since. Two tentative locations: Rogers International School and the "Fish Church" (downtown.) One pair in 2015; no fledglings though. No pairs 2016.

Hi David, do you think the focus on the poop is just an excuse to try to get rid of the birds (for some other reason)? Could it be the noise level??? (Maybe they are embarrassed to complain about natural sounds, but it annoys them?!!) Or maybe they are perching somewhere right over their cars or something? (Doubt it, but just asking..) I would try to find out exactly what is bothering them or you will be going around in circles without solution..

One of my houses is very close to a residential condominium they are raising this summer... I am not so worried (yet) about the poop (I don't even have a colony!!!), but I am worried they will not let me play the dawnsong (without it, I am afraid my chances are very slim here in CT..)

I wish you luck in your situation... My neighbors are not big fans of my "natural yard" (they have an impeccably kept lawn, while I have a wild garden with compost, gravel area and wood/branch piles for wildlife!!), but they are really nice people and never complained. They did remove two nice trees at our border (but ultimately on their side) and they mentioned the car was covered in bird poop.... (now their driveway is so hot they leave the car windows open while parked...) This modern "cleanliness" and neatness approach towards nature is very sad... No tree snags or wild in sight - all perfectly kept..

That being said, if it is really bad (poop), maybe there is something that could be done to prevent their frequency of flight right over the neighbor's yard? Are they going towards a lake or something in that particular direction?? I wonder if you could move the "flight path" somehow... maybe moving the house a few feet? I would surely not install a new house until you get to an agreement as you might risk escalating and losing the permission you already have! :-(

I know none of my comments are "a solution" - sorry - I just wanted to share some good energy your way!
Hang in there! That is a tough one...
Sincerely,
Thais
Thais Gherardi
Wannabe Landlord in Stamford, CT (2 tentative sites):
- Rogers International School (S&K barn since 2013; Alamo House installed 2016)
- "Fish Church"/downtown Stamford (Alamo House installed 2016)
Matt F.
Posts: 3900
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Is there a way to cost effectively get some samples of the offending poop off the playhouse, and have it genetically tested to determine the species leaving it?
This just does not sound like Martin poop to me.
Large amounts of poop in certain areas, are the telltale signs of perching birds (Grackles, Mockingbirds, sparrows, etc.), not flyers like Swifts and Martins.
DavidJ
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:04 pm
Location: New Braunfels TX
Martin Colony History: 2016 21 pair 87 eggs

Thais G I dont have any idea of why they are blasting us. If poop was so abundant I should have some similar type of problem. It hasn't rained since at least this past Saturday. So I have taken pics of the 3000.00 plahyhouse roof and their storage building. With both of these being so much closer to the matins mathematically should have 20 to 60% more poop than the cars that are roughly 4 times further away from the martin house.
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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.

David, is there some way to extend the top of the fence that divides you and your neighbor? Maybe put up a 6' or taller extension - that may help to a) force the birds to fly up higher, possibly changing their flight pattern away from her yard and b) it may hide the hawk / owl decoys.

If extending the top of the fence is impractical, perhaps you could get the extra long garden stakes at Walmart and mount those ever so many feet to get the martins to fly higher / change path.....

And make clear to the game warden - it's House sparrows - aka the invasive weaver finch from Europe that you're shooting. If you just say, "sparrows", game wardens / conservationist agents get upset. hehe
"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
Glynn B - LA
Posts: 322
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:59 pm
Location: Louisiana West Monroe

We on the forum are biased towards martins including myself.

24 pair equal 48 martins + fledglings could become 100 birds by seasons end, not including visiting martins.

You already have major problems. I would be hesitant to add more cavities for next year in my own yard. The thing I would do, I would ask other neighbors if they might be interested in adding there own Martin housing or ask if you might put a house or gourd rack at your expense. This is one way to fight a bad neighbor cituation.

It really is ashame people just don't give a damn about nature any more.

I got more than bird poop on my person when growing up.

Glynn
2019 26 pair 116 fledged
2018 20 pair 76 fledged
2017 19 pair 82 fledged
2016 13 pair 48 fledged
2015 3 pair 13 fledged
2014 1 pair 4 fledged
2013 2 pair 6 fledged
2012 0 pair
2011 0 pair

I don’t have the perfect site. One open flyway with trees within 80 ft. I do have a small pond they utilize during the heat of Summer. (2017) HEAVY HAWK PREDATION
Thais G
Posts: 93
Joined: Mon May 05, 2014 6:37 pm
Location: CT/Darien
Martin Colony History: Started at unsuitable location in 2008. Many lessons learned since. Two tentative locations: Rogers International School and the "Fish Church" (downtown.) One pair in 2015; no fledglings though. No pairs 2016.

What a pickle... hummm... maybe get a cheap security camera and film bird activity over the areas they are claiming to be a problem? As someone else mentioned, maybe another type of bird is to "blame"? Are there trees over the parking area? Maybe there are other "black/dark" birds (even starlings!) perching around??

I have a terrible situation with one starling pair - such a HUGE mess for just two birds!!! My whole side of the house was pooped profusely!! Anyway, they could easily be getting confused thinking other "look alike" nuisance birds are martins!!

I hope that between all of the ingenuity in this forum we can find ways to help you out!!
Seems you need to take a deep breath and try some detective work... In my experience conflict in those situations is always the worse route.. Hopefully there is another explanation for the issue...
:???:
Wishing you success!
Thais

p.s.: I would also take pictures in other neighbor's directions and your own yard to compare - so that it does not seem like you are targeting evidence in that particular location. Maybe a large piece of plywood or something on the ground where you can track "instances" and experiment around different directions of path from the house - a true science analysis here! hahaha! Just always position it in a way to say you are trying to tackle the issue (not necessarily argue that it is not your issue... even if it is not.. that route is pointless.) Make note of dates and times of your pics (if file does not already do that in the camera.)
Thais Gherardi
Wannabe Landlord in Stamford, CT (2 tentative sites):
- Rogers International School (S&K barn since 2013; Alamo House installed 2016)
- "Fish Church"/downtown Stamford (Alamo House installed 2016)
Matt F.
Posts: 3900
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Another thing to add.
The fact that you got approval for your housing from your HOA (great move on your part), means you're not violating any ordinances by hosting your Martins in your current setup.
I'm no lawyer, but I believe if they wanted to even try to make any sort of legal case about this, the burden of proof would be on them - to prove that it was your Martins that were causing their problems - which I don't think they'll be able to do (also since I'm convinced it's not your Martins that are mass pooping on their stuff).
Also, I'll second what Kathy said - make sure to accurately convey to the TPWD warden that you are only shooting unprotected house sparrows, and European starlings. Make sure to be as specific as possible. Minor details can be the difference between getting a wrongfully issued expensive citation, and not.
Last edited by Matt F. on Mon Jun 06, 2016 1:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Matt F.
Posts: 3900
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

[delete - double post]
DavidJ
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:04 pm
Location: New Braunfels TX
Martin Colony History: 2016 21 pair 87 eggs

Thank you Kathy! i dont think it is possible to raise the fence high enough to change their flight pattern the Fence is 6' and the pole is 16' which puts the gourds at about 12 and 14' and it would really look bad or cost a bunch to raise the fence that much and the gourds are only about 3 feet from the fence and I think the birds would freak out nesting beside something so close. As far as poles I think that might be a little to close to their homes and possibly make them a little uncomfortable. If I were to move the house from where it is and keep it in my back yard I dont think I can move it far enough to make much of a difference and be to time consuming to justify very little to mo difference. Thank you for your input!
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