Re: Disappointed in PM houses and You?

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MartinStudent
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:24 pm
Location: Mississippi

Well, I did it. I officially caught the PM fever, and put up two PM houses, though I am very disappointed with both of them. :-( As a newbie wannabe Landlord, I bought two brand new houses; one from PMCA and one plastic one from S&K. I just learned why people don’t do regular nest checks, all in one afternoon, too. First, despite what I heard, it is not easy to lower and raise the Birds Choice Watersedge house on the telescoping pole. It’s very heavy. I will require assistance to do it, which is not what I wanted. Second, the plastic S&K American Barn house and gourds system also do not lower and raise easily on its “Ez glide” pulley system. It is also very heavy. The pole also leans a bit over, not badly but noticeable. I’m at a loss and did I say, disappointed. Now, if I’m even able to attract any PMs, it’ll be an ordeal to check on them. What now? Anyone else run into these problems when setting up their PM houses? What did you do? :?:
FYI: Yes, both poles are cemented in the ground. Yes, each house is on its own recommended poles. Yes, we followed directions for assembly and placement, etc. to the letter. Both houses are extremely heavy to raise and lower and require two people, which is what I didn’t want. I don’t want to bother my spouse every time I want/need to do something. I wanted to do this on my own. This was to be my “baby”. Again, I’m at a loss what to do next. I already put about $1000.00 into this for the houses, poles, supplemental feeding, pine straw and more. And I have two Heath aluminum houses I’d like to renovate, but put on hold because of this. I’m not quitting but it is very frustrating when things don’t turn out they way they are supposed to. :oops:
Animal Lover. Voice for animals. Purple Martin Landlord Wannabe. Proponent for large cavities. :grin:
Courtney-NC
Posts: 591
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2008 2:28 pm
Location: Holly Springs, NC
Martin Colony History: 2009-2015-Helped to manage Raleigh site, 36 cavities
2016- 33 pairs at Raleigh site, 1 pair at home site.
2017- 34 pairs at Raleigh site, 3 pairs + extra SYs at home site
2018- 33 pairs at Raleigh site, 5 pairs + extra SYs at home site
2019 - 32 pairs at Raleigh site, 7 pairs at home site, 2 pairs at new Holly Springs park site

When I was getting started in martins many years ago, I had one or 2 of those S&K houses with a telescoping tri-tel pole. That thing was a royal pain in the butt. Stuck sections, pinched fingers, etc. I promised myself I would never again use a system with a telescoping pole. (I also had a bit of experience with a Coates telescoping pole and house; it had the thumbscrews. It does help to grease the threads on the thumbscrews so they are easier to adjust, and wear a pair of leather gloves to protect your skin from being pinched, but yes it's heavy.) Now... some folks do just fine with them, but I decided after that I was going to go with a winch and cable system from then on out. I got a multi-house rack from S&K, and put the rack and 2 houses I had at the time on one of their winch and cable systems. Much easier to raise and lower, but the houses attracted nothing but house sparrows, so I eventually got rid of them and went to all gourds.

I recommend winch and cable or rope and pulley systems to everyone who is just starting out, because it's so much easier to manage them that way. I'm not sure what exactly is happening with your rope and pulley system though. I haven't attempted to use that particular one. If the pole is leaning a bit, maybe your hub is rubbing on the side of the pole and creating friction on the way down instead of loosely sliding down. Did you lubricate the pulleys? Also, not sure about how much of a load you have on the pole (1.9 inch pole? 2 3/8 inch pole? square pole?) compared to what's recommended. Have you tried contacting S&K about it?
-Courtney
-------------------
NC Purple Martin Society (PMCA affiliate)
http://www.ncpurplemartin.org
flexauger
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:29 am
Location: north central, ARK
Martin Colony History: 15 year landlord
117 babies in 2017
bio gourds 11 inch, on pushup poles
adding a winch pole for 2018, 24 more gourds

martinstudent, i understand what your going through, although i am a happy landlord now i been at this 15 years or more, i went through all those things you mentioned. I very much disliked the houses that look like barns, i kept adding a "new" kind each year, i even put up a six gourd rack on a pole with big bio gourds they were quite heavy by themselves and quite impossible when full of baby martins, i have seven of the sk tri tele poles, they seem ok, i have never had one fail in any way, the martins did raise in the barns but they would never be full, only maybe 4 nest our of 8 something like that, i was getting the same amount of nest on a pole with only 4 gourds, which i could raise up full of birds,, so last year i went completely to gourds, 7 poles, 28 nest holes, the newest pole didnt have any nest, i still got 117 babies. i was still i little concerned about being able to lift that much with age and health concerns. i knew i was going to have to get to a winch system, even though quite expensive in my book
it was almost a have to thing, so for six hundred bucks from sk i went to a round pole with a winch system and 24 big bio gourds, i got it finished yesterday and up she went, had to put the winch right on the ground almost in order to get the gourds to come down low enough to check, so you have to get on one kneee to crank it up and down, not a big deal, you can use the pole to get up and downn it your knees go bad lol, mine are,
Cut down on the number of gourds on each pole, that will help, the tri tele will lean a tad but not to bad, you could shim where it goes in the ground sleve, or set a new sleve and make sure its perfect, move pole to it, be sure to tape a piece of metal on the bottom on sleve before you cement it, keeps it from sinkin into the dirt over the years. sounds like you got some good housing there and martins will love it even if it leans a bit, they are not that picky, i would just suggest staying with winch system and gourds, i believe they like gourds best, not over load with gourds and keep up the good fight sounds like your determined to make this work, good for you and good luck! (i have been tweeking my housing for 15 years, i think i finally got it right)
Ed Svetich-WI
Posts: 798
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 10:05 pm
Location: Brooks, Wi (McGinnis Lake)
Martin Colony History: 24 Super and Excluder Gourds on two gourd racks, all SREH. Full occupancy. My philosophy is to maximize fledge % with existing cavities rather than adding gourds to grow colony, thus providing opportunities for new colony expansion. Fledge over 100 nestlings yearly from 24 gourds. Band nestlings in cooperation with state university. 2019 Adendum: Reduced colony size to 12 gourds to focus on more intensive management regimen.

MartinStudent,

Too bad about your dilemma. If I am not mistaken, it has been suggested many times here on the Forum that aspiring landlords go slow, gain experience and grow into being a Martin landlord. Too often, expensive lawn ornaments are the result of moving too quickly.

Good luck.

Ed
Todd Wright
Posts: 222
Joined: Thu May 03, 2007 12:16 pm
Location: Kilgore(Liberty City),Texas

I to started out with telescoping poles and they can be very frustrating. I now have 2 multi-purpose poles with two houses on each and 4 gourds under each. In my opinion the multipurpose pole is the only way to go.
Todd Wright
Bird Brain
Posts: 150
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:22 am
Location: Highland Village, TX
Martin Colony History: 2017-nothing
2018-1 visitor
2019-nothing
2020-the most visitors/activity by far after making many site improvements. Unsuccessful SY Male visited for 2 weeks.

Ok to make mistakes as long as something is learned. I can't remember who said it. But aluminum houses should be utilized by Northern landlords. It just gets too hot in the South for aluminum housing, even if painted white. A few hours of Summer Southern sunshine will cook any bird that lives in those things. I would avoid aluminum housing based on your location. Those plastic s&k barns don't provide enough security in my opinion. A large owl can grasp it's talon on an entrance hole and rip the whole door off, exposing several nests at a time. Wooden houses are too heavy. Aluminum houses are too hot, at least in the South they are. Plastic houses are too cheap and not secure from owl predation. I honestly think a large capacity gourd rack is the way to go. Large capacity so you can add more gourds in the future. I too wasted money on an S&K barn. I through it in the garbage after 1 year and bought a 24 capacity gourd rack. Properly vented gourds are much cooler here in the south. They can also have long tunnels to help protect from owls. Lots of Southern landlords use gourd racks and the martins are accustomed to them. Also spend the extra money and get a 3 inch pole. 60 mph winds are common all over martin country. The 3 inch pole doesn't wobble a bit. 3 inch pole, rope and pulley or winch, large capacity, gourds with long tunnels.
Every time I kill a house sparrow, I make the world a better place.
~Ray~Gingerich
Posts: 2114
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 10:24 pm
Location: Delaware/Dover

I had a coates watersedge house on a telescoping pole for a few years. I could deal with the pole but was somewhat aggravating. What I didn’t like was the house mount connection to the pole that didn’t fit snuggly; the house always had an annoying wobble with the slightest breeze. I eventually placed it on a multipurpose pole and bought a second house to make a matched set. My pole a 2”sq aluminum rope operated system that works nicely with 2 houses and 4 gourds underneath.
~Ray~ Gingerich
1999 1pair, 2006 2 pair, 2008 2 pair,
2009 23 pair, 2010 39 pair, 2011 67 pair,
2012 115 pair, 2013 160 pair,
2014 152 pair, 2015 174 pair, 2016 178 pair
2017 187 pair, 2018 200 pair
JimmyP
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2017 7:04 am
Location: Altamont Kansas
Martin Colony History: 2010-2016 12 cavities
2017 Added T-14 7 pair
2018 Added 12 Gourd rack

Sounds like we have all went through the same problems , if possible use Gourds with a winch system its the only way to go! As for the SK barn houses in my opinion they should be outlawed! I lost so many birds because of these houses , Great house if you're wanting to feed owls and hawks.
mwren
Posts: 108
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:43 pm
Location: OH/Athens
Martin Colony History: I have had my martin colony on the dam of one of my ponds for nine years. The colony has grown each year, but I am now concentrating on helping friends and acquaintances who have shown interests in martins. My colony consists of three T-14's with 8 Troyer gourds attatched to each T-14, a Troyer gourd rack with 12 gourds, and another gourd rack with 18 Troyer gourds for a total of 96 nest cavities. I am having serious predation issues with hawks and owls and am experimenting with various hawk guards and "screens". Established successful supplemental feeding last season during late march and had a blast flipping mostly meal worms and some crickets. Faculty from Ohio University are using my colony as a research site to study parasites that target cavity nesting birds. In exchange for access to my bird trail nest boxes and martin housing, they are banding all birds involved in their study.

Martinstudent, your experience is sadly repeated over and over by wannabe landlords from coast to coast. The first mistake is usually purchase of relatively cheap plastic houses that still have round holes, and multiple nest cavities that are way too small. Those houses are usually sold with cheap telescoping poles that are just too difficult to do nest checks as often as you need to do them. The next common mistake is often times the placement of the house too close to trees that do not allow enough room for the birds to out manuver sharp-shins and coopers. Trees too close also allow predators to perch and hide too close to your colony. Next serious mistake is some wannabes do not fully understand the serious problem that is caused by house sparrows and starlings. They must be controlled. (controlled being a nice way of saying eleminated) I wasted a lot of money because I tried to start out by making all the mistakes that have been described here! If you are on a limited budget, start out with large plastic gourds, with starling resistant openings, properly vented with long hallways if possible. Protect with owl and hawk guards. (long hallway will help) Mount on a pole with a winch system if at all possible. This will make your nest checks a fun experience versus a "chore".
Good luck, and as my buddy Jimmy V used to say, "Don't give up, don't ever give up !" :!:
Mike "Bird" Wren
handyman315
Posts: 297
Joined: Thu May 12, 2016 11:03 am
Location: SW Ohio
Martin Colony History: Colony established May 20, 2017 after three unsuccessful years. Persistent and aggressive Tree Swallows plagued the site, but beyond learning - and practicing - to control them, was the return in 2017 of a 2016-SY-M previously unable to find a mate. As a handsome ASY-M, he brought along two females and a swagger that soon put the Tree Swallow issue to rest. As the anchor pair, he and his mate hatched all six of their eggs into fat and healthy babies into what settled in to be a three-pair, flourishing new colony with up to 11 birds total, including 3 SY-M trouble makers.

Amen to mwren's comments just above, i.e., as a new landlord I've made more (mechanical) mistakes than successes. To his list I'd add my nemesis, a round pole. I look at square poles longingly as mine twists, turns, spins. Why didn't someone tell me beforehand? :-| Duh. :oops:
2019- 19 Nesting Pair Fledged 84 babies. The Pattern is Full.
2018-ASY-M Arrived April 6, Despite Snow & Cold, Joined Soon by Mate & Two Adult Pairs, Season of 11 Nests W/48 Babies
2017-FIRST-YEAR LANDLORD! :grin: Resident SY-M from 2016 Returned (as ASY-M) on May 20. At Least 11 Resident PMs, with 13 Fledged from Three Nests and Operated a Daily Flying Circus :grin:
2016-Late-Arriving SYs, Resident Lone SY-M, Unable to Find Mate
2015 & 2014-Many Visits
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Bird Brain, I have to disagree with you about using aluminum houses in the southern states.
But aluminum houses should be utilized by Northern landlords. It just gets too hot in the South for aluminum housing, even if painted white. A few hours of Summer Southern sunshine will cook any bird that lives in those things.
My personal choice of housing is gourds, but I know that thousands of landlords, from Florida to Texas and north of the gulf as well, use metal housing with great success. The birds and eggs do not 'cook' by any means. I have worked with Trio and Lonestar houses in particular, and know of two mega colonies in Texas that use metal housing exclusively and successfully. I wanted to reply mostly because there is a lot of bad information being circulated about metal housing, intentionally, by a retailer in Texas - he promotes the gourds he sells by promoting negative myths about metal housing.

Photo shows one of our past metal houses, filled with 'uncooked' martins!
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John & Linda - KY
Posts: 599
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 10:19 pm
Location: Kentucky/Hawesville

We have two TriTel poles with 12 gourd racks on each. When we put the gourds up we put about 1/2 tsp of Seven Dust in each gourd, that takes care of the mites for the season. We use crescent entries, that takes care of the starlings. We trap house sparrows and remove their nests until the martins begin nesting. Other than that we leave the racks up until we're ready to clean them out at the end of the season, we don't do nest checks. The martins thrive and fledge a bunch of babies each year. Are we "bad landlords"? I don't think so, the nest checks aren't really necessary and they would be a pain in my 71 year old neck. -- John
Elijah Clark
Posts: 52
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:52 pm
Location: Bend, TX
Martin Colony History: Put up the colony in 2015 and had a mean and nasty fight with the sparrows, yet one pair stayed and five fledged.

I moved my houses closer to a river yesterday and had the same problem with the telescoping poles getting stuck occasionally. I took them apart and sprayed some WD-40 on each section, and now they slide up and down with ease :grin:
"A good sparrow is a dead sparrow"
2015- 1 pair
2016- 12 pair
2017- 0 pair (predators). Back to square one.
JimmyP
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2017 7:04 am
Location: Altamont Kansas
Martin Colony History: 2010-2016 12 cavities
2017 Added T-14 7 pair
2018 Added 12 Gourd rack

handyman315, no doubt square pole would be easier I have round poles that I made myself one is a t-14 and very heavy the other is a 12 gourd rack we are having 50 mile hr wind here in Ks today and yes they can swing and twist, I have fixed this problem by making a notch in the slide of the rack and adding a keyway a the top of the pole works great.
deancamp
Posts: 412
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

JimmyP, can you explain your remedy for a house rotating on a round pole? Any pictures you can add would help greatly.
deancamp
handyman315
Posts: 297
Joined: Thu May 12, 2016 11:03 am
Location: SW Ohio
Martin Colony History: Colony established May 20, 2017 after three unsuccessful years. Persistent and aggressive Tree Swallows plagued the site, but beyond learning - and practicing - to control them, was the return in 2017 of a 2016-SY-M previously unable to find a mate. As a handsome ASY-M, he brought along two females and a swagger that soon put the Tree Swallow issue to rest. As the anchor pair, he and his mate hatched all six of their eggs into fat and healthy babies into what settled in to be a three-pair, flourishing new colony with up to 11 birds total, including 3 SY-M trouble makers.

JimmyP wrote:handyman315, no doubt square pole would be easier I have round poles that I made myself one is a t-14 and very heavy the other is a 12 gourd rack we are having 50 mile hr wind here in Ks today and yes they can swing and twist, I have fixed this problem by making a notch in the slide of the rack and adding a keyway a the top of the pole works great.
Thanks for the mention of what you have done to stop the rotating problem, and I would also love to see your further explanation and/or pictures. Plan to do the same thing to my 3" round pole but can't track down the right parts or design.
2019- 19 Nesting Pair Fledged 84 babies. The Pattern is Full.
2018-ASY-M Arrived April 6, Despite Snow & Cold, Joined Soon by Mate & Two Adult Pairs, Season of 11 Nests W/48 Babies
2017-FIRST-YEAR LANDLORD! :grin: Resident SY-M from 2016 Returned (as ASY-M) on May 20. At Least 11 Resident PMs, with 13 Fledged from Three Nests and Operated a Daily Flying Circus :grin:
2016-Late-Arriving SYs, Resident Lone SY-M, Unable to Find Mate
2015 & 2014-Many Visits
JimmyP
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2017 7:04 am
Location: Altamont Kansas
Martin Colony History: 2010-2016 12 cavities
2017 Added T-14 7 pair
2018 Added 12 Gourd rack

Sorry no pics I should have said my pole is 2in diameter, you can mount a small keyway or piece of 1/2in metal strip about 2in long at the top of pole then cut a slot in the gourd rack or slide, when cranked all the way up it will lock into place. With the smaller diameter poles options are a bit more limited.
Evan337
Posts: 150
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2004 11:00 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Louise Chambers wrote:Bird Brain, I have to disagree with you about using aluminum houses in the southern states.
But aluminum houses should be utilized by Northern landlords. It just gets too hot in the South for aluminum housing, even if painted white. A few hours of Summer Southern sunshine will cook any bird that lives in those things.
My personal choice of housing is gourds, but I know that thousands of landlords, from Florida to Texas and north of the gulf as well, use metal housing with great success. The birds and eggs do not 'cook' by any means. I have worked with Trio and Lonestar houses in particular, and know of two mega colonies in Texas that use metal housing exclusively and successfully. I wanted to reply mostly because there is a lot of bad information being circulated about metal housing, intentionally, by a retailer in Texas - he promotes the gourds he sells by promoting negative myths about metal housing.

Photo shows one of our past metal houses, filled with 'uncooked' martins!
Thanks for this reply Louise. I am in south Louisiana and have fledged a lot of birds out of Trio Aluminum houses. They are never hot and are probably the best ventilated housing on the market. Aluminum houses are really good options for beginner Landlords in my opinion. The Trio Grandpa is tough to beat.
Dale D
Posts: 329
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:11 am
Location: Orlando, Fl
Martin Colony History: Landlord since 2004

I built my own AAA-16 and modified it to fit a 2" round pole. I had a couple of mounting brackets laying around from my old predator guards so I took one of them and cut 4 notches in it so that when the 3" square hub was raised against it the sides of the hub locked the rack into the notches. The first pic shows the bracket with the notches and the second pic shows the hub and rack raise to meet it.

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Orlando, FL Landlord since 2004
Offer 42 Cavities Total
handyman315
Posts: 297
Joined: Thu May 12, 2016 11:03 am
Location: SW Ohio
Martin Colony History: Colony established May 20, 2017 after three unsuccessful years. Persistent and aggressive Tree Swallows plagued the site, but beyond learning - and practicing - to control them, was the return in 2017 of a 2016-SY-M previously unable to find a mate. As a handsome ASY-M, he brought along two females and a swagger that soon put the Tree Swallow issue to rest. As the anchor pair, he and his mate hatched all six of their eggs into fat and healthy babies into what settled in to be a three-pair, flourishing new colony with up to 11 birds total, including 3 SY-M trouble makers.

Dale D wrote:I built my own AAA-16 and modified it to fit a 2" round pole. I had a couple of mounting brackets laying around from my old predator guards so I took one of them and cut 4 notches in it so that when the 3" square hub was raised against it the sides of the hub locked the rack into the notches. The first pic shows the bracket with the notches and the second pic shows the hub and rack raise to meet it.

Image

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That's just a great idea, e.g., squeezing the pipe rather than drilling for a cross-bolt stop. How do the flat tops of the angle iron (aluminum) bracket arms slide into the notches you cut in the collar?

Thanks for the pictures and reply.
2019- 19 Nesting Pair Fledged 84 babies. The Pattern is Full.
2018-ASY-M Arrived April 6, Despite Snow & Cold, Joined Soon by Mate & Two Adult Pairs, Season of 11 Nests W/48 Babies
2017-FIRST-YEAR LANDLORD! :grin: Resident SY-M from 2016 Returned (as ASY-M) on May 20. At Least 11 Resident PMs, with 13 Fledged from Three Nests and Operated a Daily Flying Circus :grin:
2016-Late-Arriving SYs, Resident Lone SY-M, Unable to Find Mate
2015 & 2014-Many Visits
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