Aspiring Landlord Needs Advice

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Hello All!
We have been wanting to attract PMs to our farm for years here in STate Road, NC and have finally decided to give it a go. For the past three days we have had between 7-12 PMs camped out on a big dead oak tree between our house and the pond, and I would love to snag them! Would these be immature birds this time of year?
Would it help to go ahead and put up housing now, while they may still be around to see it and maybe remember our site when they return next year, or should we just wait until next year to put it up?
Most folks around here use gourds, and I like the look of the plastic supergourds with cresent openings...would some of you share with me the housing you use that's successful? How many houses should I put up the first year?
Any basic advise along these lines would be greatly appreciated!
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

Gourds are a very good choice, but as you say, its kinda late this year, I think I would wait until next year. Get all of your poles and gourds together and try to have it ready to go by Feb or March. I use 100% gourds. If you are starting new, you may wish to start with 8 to 16 gourds. here are some suggestions:

1) be sure to use a guard on your pole to keep out mostly snakes & racoons
2) Put the pole in a very open space within 100 or 200 ft from your house. You do not want any trees within 80 to 100 ft of the pole
3) trap or shoot all the starlings & sparrows, as they will destroy the martins eggs & babies.
4) I recommend a gourd rack that you can raise & lower with a winch. The best poles available have counterweights that go into the pole, and you can raise & lower it very easy without a winch
5) put some pine straw into the nests, and put some sevin dust under the nest to prevent mites.

There are many other suggestions. Read the archives here on this site, and many of your questions may be answered.

good luck
Last edited by Emil Pampell-Tx on Thu Jul 07, 2005 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
PMCA Member, 250 gourds, 6 poles, 2traps
Dale Davis

jmotsinger, The martins you see nesting in the tree near your place are more than likely this years fledglings and the parent birds.

Unfortunely it is too late in your area to attract nesting martins this late in the season.

As far as putting up your housing now, what can it hurt. You may attract some of the migrating birds heading south and may help you come next season.

Gourds are a very popular and successful housing. Some landlords will use nothing but gourds while some will use houses plus gourds, and then you have those die hards like me that use only houses. The main thing with houses is to make sure they have plenty of depth in the compartments and predator guards on your poles. Predator guards should be used on your housing also. So to sum it up, it is basically a preference thing when it comes to types of housing.

Wish you the best of luck!

Posts: 2216
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 1:58 pm
Location: TX/Alvin
Martin Colony History: Erected 1st house in 1997. Birds were checking it out before Mike got down from the ladder. Six cavities had a little colony 1st year. Grown to 88 cavities all gourds with near 100% occupancy. Most important factor for success is rain = bugs.

Hello jmotsinger.

If you go to the button above that says Member List you can sort the members of the PMCA by location and see what others in your area are using.

I am assuming you have not purchased housing, yet. If you could get it up now, it would be standing there for all the PMs to see as they head south. The birds you are seeing in the dead tree are probably recently fledged young and their parents from a nearby colony. These fledglings are the birds you would want to attract to your site for next season. These birds are possibly staging at this tree before heading on to the Premigratory Roost at Umstead Bridge. Be sure to read about the Umstead Bridge project on the PMCA's Home Page. If you can, I would highly recommend going to see it - "Awesome!"

Purple Martins are curious about potential housing - if you could put it up today, the birds at the dead tree would definitely investigate it. That is always fun to watch.

The PMCA recommends 24 cavities to build a solid and enduring colony. It may take 2-3 years to get that many pairs at your site. If you just want to erect something for them to investigate as potential housing for next season - then just put up one pole with 4-6 gourds hanging on it. Then wait for next spring and watch the Scout Report and Forum for people reporting first sitings of returning PMs.

I use SuperGourds (45) and Troyer Horizontals (3). This year, we had 43 active nests that produced approximately 165 young (we're not done yet, still have 5 nests with young in them). The five gourds that were never nested were dominated by ASY Males. They frequently will claim and defend more than one cavity.

I would advise you to read everything you can find on this website and read the Forum frequently (like every day during nesting season). You will gain a vast education just by reading everybody elses questions and answers. You could start by reading back through the posts logged on the Forum right now...

Good luck to you and best wishes for many wonderful Purple Martin seasons in the future.

Thanks, Emil, Dale and Laverne! If there's even a chance that some passers by on the way south would glimpse and consider housing for next year, I'm going to go ahead and put it up. Maybe get some practice on gourd maintenance and pest removel.
Thanks again!
CUL Lou~Mich

Jane. Look at it this way once. If you do NOT put the housing up, no PMs will see it. If you DO put some up now, there might be a few see it, and remember it for next year. Ooooh, and a pond?? Wow, that's a great draw there. Get to hustling there gal. ha ha. Seriously, the sooner the housing is up, the sooner it can be looked at. CUL Lou
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