Re: Disappointed in PM houses and You?

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Dale D
Posts: 329
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:11 am
Location: Orlando, Fl
Martin Colony History: Landlord since 2004

Once I notched the bracket and fitted it over the hub I raised the rack with the bracket loose to the desired height so I knew it would meet the bracket properly when lowered and raised back up. Once I got it to the top I tightened the bracket down and walla, no more spin. :grin: Have been using it for 2 years now and it works like a champ.
Orlando, FL Landlord since 2004
Offer 42 Cavities Total
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:24 pm
Location: Mississippi

First, thanks for so many replies! Greatly appreciated, especially the helpful comments. :P Nice to hear I am not the only one that experienced problems in the beginning with houses. It sure would have been nice if PMCA had told me when I had asked so many questions about houses and poles about problems with telescoping poles. Also, not one word about problems with aluminum housing in the South. If aluminum houses were such a danger to PMs in the South, I'd think the PMCA would say so. FYI: As a wannabe Landlord, I did a great deal of research before I invested money to buy a "real good" PM house. I didn't just dive in. I even already had the S&K Barn up as it was and the wrong pole with no takers last year. No research done before then; glad no one showed up. I didn't just start out buying all expensive stuff this year. :shock: Neither one of my houses has round holes. Don't know where that came from. Anyway....I just joined this forum a month or so ago, and obviously have missed out on some posts, which I'll never catch up on, but I shall endeavor to do so for the birds.
"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)" Thanks for your advice, but if you note, I already did all of this. My problem is with the houses, both, one from S&K and one from PMCA are just too heavy to raise and lower.

Second, the plastic S&K Barn needed a great deal of renovation to work. Out of the box, from what I now know, I wouldn't have put it up to begin with, but live and learn. I modified it into four large cavities 6 x 9 x 18 each vice the 6x6x9 each they originally had, plus I closed off the attic by making them into vent holes. The roof was painted white and we added owl guards, predator guards and such to both poles and houses. The Birdschoice Watersedge house is on the 2" (?) round pole I was told it went with. The S&K house is also with the pole it was supposed to go with; a 1.9inch round pole. Everything was followed to put them up. The S&K gourds are supposed to go under the barn house, which is why I purchased them. I called S&K and they're puzzled: go figure. They think it is the pulley so they're sending a new one. We'll see. As it is now, as I said both houses are really heavy to lift to do weekly next checks. The winch and multi-pole from PMCA is just too expensive and there is no way to justify spending it when I just spent so much already. :-( It is just so frustrating that things we spend money on just don't work the way they are supposed to.
Thanks again. Keep birding. I wanted to add some photos of my housing to show you what i did, but I can't make any attachments. Any clue as to why I can't?
Animal Lover. Voice for animals. Purple Martin Landlord Wannabe. Proponent for large cavities. :grin:
Dave Duit
Posts: 1701
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2019, 54 pair with 218 fledged youngsters. 83 total compartments available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified trio metal house units, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit and join.

It sounds like many of us have went through the growing pains of becoming a landlord. Over the years a person learns many new things about what works and what doesn't work. My first year was the biggest learning curve and each year got progressively better.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
Bird Brain
Posts: 150
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:22 am
Location: Highland Village, TX
Martin Colony History: 2017-nothing
2018-1 visitor
2020-the most visitors/activity by far after making many site improvements. Unsuccessful SY Male visited for 2 weeks.

My apologies if I was wrong about aluminum houses in the South. But I did read it somewhere. Here's the link. ... -carolina/

Scroll down to "houses/hotels"
Every time I kill a house sparrow, I make the world a better place.
Posts: 220
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:35 pm
Location: Marlboro County, SC
Martin Colony History: Capacity: 72 Troyers on 3 X Super-24 racks

Todd Wright wrote: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.
We started with an S&K Barn too. I took it down and threw it on the trash pile. Then went ahead and built and set up a T14, and a Super-24 rack (this was when our colony was growing rapidly), both installed on 3 inch square 16 ft aluminum poles, including ground stakes. Problem solved.

Do yourself a favor, and get a small gourd rack w/ winch, or if you prefer house, a house that can be winched up and down. When you start to get birds, and cramped for compartment space, you can expand.

Good Luck to you. I understand your frustration. Situations like these could have been avoided if an experienced mentor & landlord had been available to you for suggestions as to how and where to start.
Location: Marlboro County, SC

2020: Capacity: 72 - First Scouts: 2/11 - 71 pair - 298 hatched as of last nest check.
2019: Capacity: 72 - First Scouts: 2/22 - 70 pair - 315 fledged
2018: Capacity: 70 - First Scouts: 2/18 - 60 pair - 270 fledged
2017: Capacity: 42 - First Scouts: 2/25 - 39 pair
2016: Capacity: 42 - First Scouts: 3/10 - 32 pair
2015: Capacity: 24 - First Scouts: 3/23 - 4 pair

Purple Martins Of South Carolina
2020 Season
Posts: 132
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:18 pm
Location: PA/Erie

Bird Brain wrote:My apologies if I was wrong about aluminum houses in the South. But I did read it somewhere. Here's the link. ... -carolina/

Scroll down to "houses/hotels"
Lots of bad information out there on the internet. If you're unsure, use the PMCA website as a definitive source.
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.

I echo Bio Joe's suggestion. If anyone contemplating hosting martins needs hands on experience as a resource before making that first purchase, spend some time using the search function on the Forum or the advice available through the PMCA. Rather than incurring the wrath of anyone by specifying any particular housing options, there are certainly types of housing and accessories that receive more than their share of negative feedback. Do your due diligence. We all have our preferences. Mine is gourds. I wasted a surprising amount of time and money before I found what works for me. I had Trio houses to begin, modified them, attracted martins, added more housing, added gourds, reduced housing to what I found a manageable number, went 100 % gourds, 100 % SREH and settled back to enjoy the martins.

I find it interesting that some without martins often offer the most advice. Consider your sources. I have seen martins nesting in a converted plastic mailbox. Do martins need a cadillac, when a VW will do? A starter type of housing will allow you to gain experience. What is most important is a location which provides a measure of safety for whatever housing you choose to offer. There is more that is required but you can find that by spending time reading the vast amount of information that is available here on the Forum or at the PMCA.

I wish you success.
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2004 10:34 am
Location: whitewater, WI

I am also disappointed in most martin houses. T-14 being the exception. I needed a six place house for the end of my pier and saw nothing I liked. I am lucky because I have a wood shop so I built a T-6 out of a 1/2" solid plastic plywood substitute we use for concrete forming. I use an aluminum beam for the post on my T-14. Again an item we use in concrete forming. I am use to more substantial materials.
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