In conjunction with a garden club in town, we set up a gourd rack with 8 natural gourds at the local recycling center. The recycling center sits right beside Triplett Creek and adjoins the city park baseball fields to the east. An ideal location for martins. The gourd rack went up on May 14, 2014. There were some visitors that summer but no nesters. Then two pairs nested in 2015, 5 pairs in 2016, and 7 pairs in 2017. All of the gourds appear to have nesting martins this year although I have not done a nest check yet. Despite the fact that the entrances are round holes, pressure from house sparrows and starlings has been very light. Since 2014 there have been just 2 house sparrow nests, one late starling nest that never had eggs, and one tree swallow nest in the gourds. The recycling center building is literally crawling with nesting house sparrows and starlings but yet the gourds receive little attention from them. I expected failure due to house sparrow competition even if I would have used starling resistant entrances.
Another anomaly with this colony is how much later the birds return compared to my home colony just 6 miles away in the same county. The first returning martins to my home colony this spring showed up on March 18. I didn't notice birds at the recycling center until April 14. This later pattern was noticeable last year as well.
I enjoy watching the martins at the recycling center especially in the late evenings when they are swirling around over Triplett Creek. My home colony might consider me unfaithful if they knew where I was sneaking off to a couple times each week. Yesterday evening around 8:30 pm, there were 31 martins sitting on the power lines in front of the center. I pulled around to the back of the building to look at the gourd rack and it was covered with the nesting martins. So now I'm wondering where those 30 extra birds came from and why they were loafing at the center if they had nests of their own at a nearby colony. The nearest colony is more than a half mile away and it is small with maybe 3 to 5 pairs. If these were martins without a nesting site, then I need to expand next spring at this location.
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