Why do I not have martins

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
Birds
Posts: 71
Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:35 am
Location: Northeast OH
Martin Colony History: 2017: nothing, 2018: discovered the PMCA, new house modifications 2019:Still no Martins. House sparrow and starling hate forever.

Hi it's me again. I'm just wondering if I still have time to attract purple martins. I had some flybys in early May but I don't see them any more? :wink: Thanks for your help!
2017 :installed a Martin house hoping for Martins.
2018 :discovered the PMCA made modifications to a heath house .
2019 : Still no martins yet. House sparrow and starlings hate forever.
Tip :never give up
randyM
Posts: 101
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:30 pm
Location: Long Lake SD
Martin Colony History: 2006 - SY pair, unsuccessful nest attempt, 3 houses = 52 cavities

2010 - ASYM + SYF pair - male disappeared after storm, female fledged all 4 young.

2015 - Lone SYM stayed month of June...added 8 gourds = 60 cavities

2016 - 1 nesting pair (ASYM + SYF) 2/3 eggs hatched 2 young fledged.

2017 - 4 nesting pairs, 16/17 eggs hatched, 16 fledged, 16 banded - 2 banded SY returned in 2018 (12.5%), added housing: 11 houses w/gourds, 4 gourd poles = 376 cavities

2018 - 10 nesting pairs, 46/52 eggs hatched, 45 fledged, 29 banded - 3 banded SY returned in 2019 (10.3%)

2019 - 32 nesting pairs, 145/160 eggs hatched, 139 fledged - 87 banded - 12 banded SY returned in 2020 (13.8%).

2020 - 35 nesting pairs, 180/199 eggs hatched, 178 fledged - 150 banded.

In the northern half of the country nest initiation can begin as late as the end of June, so you still have time. If you don't have a "resident" bird by the middle of June, chances for nesting at your colony this year would be slim....hang in there!
Matt F.
Posts: 3895
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Birds,
One thing that may increase your chances, is matching your housing to the housing being used by the closest colonies to you.
You mentioned some T-14 houses, and gourds.
Get granular - like what specific brand of gourds, and entrance types they're using.
Same goes with the T-14 - entrance type, house color, etc.
I'm one of those in the camp that believes that SY Martins are going to be more drawn to the same type of housing they fledged from.
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

To improve your chances, here are some important things: 1) the trees nearby is the most important factor. The nearer the trees, the less chance you have of attracting martins 2) the abundance of martins. If you live in the scarce area, you may need to wait longer. 3) The size of the rooms 4)if you can modify your housing so that the owls cannot see the martins, they prefer to be hidden. 5) presence of hawks can drive away visiting martins, as will sparrows and starlings, keep away the sparrows and starlings)..….However, the trees nearby will be about 90% of the equation, other items are minor items (type of housing is not very important)
PMCA Member, 250 gourds, 6 poles, 2traps
Matt F.
Posts: 3895
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Birds,
As you can see, opinions vary.
Definitely not an exact science.
Trees and predators are important factors, but had already been mentioned by others on page 1 of this thread.
Birds
Posts: 71
Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:35 am
Location: Northeast OH
Martin Colony History: 2017: nothing, 2018: discovered the PMCA, new house modifications 2019:Still no Martins. House sparrow and starling hate forever.

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thanks. sorry I took so long to respond.
I don't want to spend any more than I have to on houseing. As I have already spent more than 120 dollars on this setup. The colony near by my house uses starling resistant holes, So that's what I have been using. My heath house is modified so that the cavities are in some what of an "L" shape. But I don't think the Martin's even know because, I have NEVER seen them even land on the house. I did read somewhere that Martin's are attracted to gourd so I bought an as&k gourd which I hung it on the houseing. I also use the crescent entrance holes because I can't do with out them the starlings flock here in the thousands. :???:
Last edited by Birds on Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
2017 :installed a Martin house hoping for Martins.
2018 :discovered the PMCA made modifications to a heath house .
2019 : Still no martins yet. House sparrow and starlings hate forever.
Tip :never give up
Birds
Posts: 71
Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:35 am
Location: Northeast OH
Martin Colony History: 2017: nothing, 2018: discovered the PMCA, new house modifications 2019:Still no Martins. House sparrow and starling hate forever.

IMG_20190527_122435_kindlephoto-54591624.jpg
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Last edited by Birds on Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:03 pm, edited 4 times in total.
2017 :installed a Martin house hoping for Martins.
2018 :discovered the PMCA made modifications to a heath house .
2019 : Still no martins yet. House sparrow and starlings hate forever.
Tip :never give up
Birds
Posts: 71
Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:35 am
Location: Northeast OH
Martin Colony History: 2017: nothing, 2018: discovered the PMCA, new house modifications 2019:Still no Martins. House sparrow and starling hate forever.

Screenshot_2019-06-01-10-10-26_kindlephoto-35926331.png
Screenshot_2019-06-01-10-10-26_kindlephoto-35926331.png (468.55 KiB) Viewed 7089 times
The white arrow is ware the Martin's house is
2017 :installed a Martin house hoping for Martins.
2018 :discovered the PMCA made modifications to a heath house .
2019 : Still no martins yet. House sparrow and starlings hate forever.
Tip :never give up
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

I don't know why you don't have Martins, but location of the gourd rack doesn't appear to be the issue. In my area, someone with a site that open, using gourds, I would estimate to have a 90% or better chance of having Martins their first year. That is, assuming you don't have 1000's of acres of woodlands surrounding the picture you posted. If the surrounding general area is as open as the picture shows, then location isn't the problem.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Birds
Posts: 71
Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:35 am
Location: Northeast OH
Martin Colony History: 2017: nothing, 2018: discovered the PMCA, new house modifications 2019:Still no Martins. House sparrow and starling hate forever.

U hope this isn't a problem but it's not a gourd rack it's a heath house with one gourd hung from the porch. :| I will keep playing the Martin song tho.
2017 :installed a Martin house hoping for Martins.
2018 :discovered the PMCA made modifications to a heath house .
2019 : Still no martins yet. House sparrow and starlings hate forever.
Tip :never give up
Birds
Posts: 71
Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:35 am
Location: Northeast OH
Martin Colony History: 2017: nothing, 2018: discovered the PMCA, new house modifications 2019:Still no Martins. House sparrow and starling hate forever.

I was just driving 5 miles down the road and a saw a a guy who had a bunch of gourds on a clothes line, that had Martin's Going in and out of them!!. Is it possible that they might draw the Martin's to my house.
2017 :installed a Martin house hoping for Martins.
2018 :discovered the PMCA made modifications to a heath house .
2019 : Still no martins yet. House sparrow and starlings hate forever.
Tip :never give up
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

I wouldn't break the bank buying high dollar housing until I had some Martins. Having said that...

When I was around 20-22 my mother bought a Heath house at our local farmers co-op. I put that sucker, with it's 1000 bolts together and installed it at the barn. It stayed up for a decade or so and never had a Martin nest in it. I did see one pair on the house, one year. I think it was 2000 or 2001 that I put up a gourd rack with 6 small natural gourds. I had Martins bond to the gourds the first year and House Sparrows ran them off. That year I found the PMCA forum. I found out how to deal with HOSP, I also found out about using larger gourds. The next spring I put up 16 natural gourds and had 4 nesting pair.

The caveat to my story is, Martins don't like to nest in houses, IN MY AREA. I know they do other places, but the only Martin houses I know of, that are occupied by Martins are on the river and lake with the exception of one house that's on the mountain above the lake.

If you have access to 10-12" diameter natural gourds, I'd suggest turning 3 of them into PM gourds before next spring and hanging them under the house. Down here good gourds sell for $1-$5 each depending on who you buy them from.

Do you think you have the "carpentry" ability to modify gourds? It's really very simple
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Birds wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:38 pm
I was just driving 5 miles down the road and a saw a a guy who had a bunch of gourds on a clothes line, that had Martin's Going in and out of them!!. Is it possible that they might draw the Martin's to my house.
I'd stop and talk to the guy. I'm sure he'll enjoy you talking to him about Martins. I'd also ask him where he gets his gourds. I don't know why but gourds on a line like that are about the most attractive way to offer them, at least here they are. They'll take gourds on a cable strung between two poles first over anything.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
PMDavid
Posts: 408
Joined: Wed May 16, 2018 8:50 pm
Location: Boyce,Louisiana
Martin Colony History: Second year trying to attract martins. This year I am getting rid of the wooden house and showing something they are used to seeing.
Offering 2 trio grandpaws w/2natural gourds under each and C.Abare gourd rack w/16 natural gourds. And one rehabbed 16 compartment Coates original with two natural gourds.Lots of lookers,a few overnighters and daily activity cruising and looking. All gourds have a rain canopy and wire perch.2019 7 pair moving into 2020 almost double pairs from 2019. Still have most of the month of March to go for new arrivals and April.Here late in season seemed to have as many as 18 Pr of nesting birds. Huge upscale in birds from 2019. Will also have a 20 gourd satellite rack prepared for the 2021 season.

Hi birds, I know I’m not in your area but the thing about your 5 mile neighbor ........do stop in as suggested and visit. Inquire about his gourds and who knows he may even have a few to share!!! Martineers are generally all nice social and willing to share knowledge ,contacts for gourds etc. Who knows the dude might grow his own and hook you up with some on the spot! Martins will accept gourds quickly and the five miles he lives from you ain’t no piece for a Martin to fly. You can bet some of his birds have passed your place. Like someone said the subs are trickling into your area for the next month,if at all possible I would figure out how to quickly hang up a dozen if possible. Just for statistics,at my house I’m offering 40 holes in houses and 22 gourds. Technically this is my second year. I’ve managed to receive 6 pr of birds . 4 pr out of 6 are in gourds. There are only half as many gourds as house holes available,yet most of the birds chose gourds. To me ....that says they prefer gourds. Good luck and don’t give up,act quickly.
Birds
Posts: 71
Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:35 am
Location: Northeast OH
Martin Colony History: 2017: nothing, 2018: discovered the PMCA, new house modifications 2019:Still no Martins. House sparrow and starling hate forever.

Wow ya I had no idea that they were so attracted to gourds instead of housing. So maybe I will talk to the guy just for the heck of it. I do believe he uses natural gourds with round entrances. So do you think I should take the heath house down And go for a gourd string. Or do leave it up and tie the string on the house and onto another pole. My grandpa had this house up for a while and never attracted Martin's so he gave it to me. So maybe I will make some natural gourds. Here is a pick of his setup and how open it is
Attachments
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2017 :installed a Martin house hoping for Martins.
2018 :discovered the PMCA made modifications to a heath house .
2019 : Still no martins yet. House sparrow and starlings hate forever.
Tip :never give up
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

I wouldn't take the house down. I'd add the gourds like you said. I wouldn't use round holes though.

Unless I'm not seeing something or overlooking something, his site doesn't overall look much more open than yours. Your site looks overall very open.

Many years ago I had a great friend/mentor that had a large supercolony of around 150 pair IIRC. He had round holes like most people who had Martins for 50 years had. I made 20 gourds with a WDC entrance cut directly into the gourds. We hung them on a cable between two posts in his colony site a month or so after the earliest birds had returned. He ended up with 19 pairs in those 20 gourds and his round holed gourds were about 80% occupied for the year. He had 60 or so round hole gourds on cables too. The remainder were on gourd racks.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Birds
Posts: 71
Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:35 am
Location: Northeast OH
Martin Colony History: 2017: nothing, 2018: discovered the PMCA, new house modifications 2019:Still no Martins. House sparrow and starling hate forever.

gee thanks for all your help it's greatly appreciated. I'm not sure what a WDC is but thanks. Do you know where I can find plans to build one of these setups or is it something that i just figure it out. One problem is I don't know how I would lower or raise one of these setups, or do nest checks in natural gourds. But these are what the plans are for. It can also get pretty windy here, how would I prevent the gourds from blowing around. Sorry if this it too many questions to answer I just don't know where else to find this kind of information.
Last edited by Birds on Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
2017 :installed a Martin house hoping for Martins.
2018 :discovered the PMCA made modifications to a heath house .
2019 : Still no martins yet. House sparrow and starlings hate forever.
Tip :never give up
Birds
Posts: 71
Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:35 am
Location: Northeast OH
Martin Colony History: 2017: nothing, 2018: discovered the PMCA, new house modifications 2019:Still no Martins. House sparrow and starling hate forever.

I'm glad my site is open enough.
2017 :installed a Martin house hoping for Martins.
2018 :discovered the PMCA made modifications to a heath house .
2019 : Still no martins yet. House sparrow and starlings hate forever.
Tip :never give up
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

I'm likely going to get blasted on here for posting this, but oh well...

Nest checks are primarily for the landlord. The birds will be just fine without them. You might once per every several years find an encapsulated egg that you could save,if you did them weekly. I do some spot checks, just to see what's going on and when.

I wouldn't let the ability, or inability to do nest checks stop me from trying a system that would attract nesting martins. If you feel the need to do nest checks, you can add lids to natural gourds. I did it for several years. You can spend as much time as you want to, modifying natural gourds to suit you.

You can also just peek in through the entrance and see how many eggs they have and also how many chicks hatch. Most people that reply to this have probably never done that. I have. It works fine.

For me, the easiest, most effective, SREH entrance to cut in a natural gourd is a variant of a WDC entrance. The WDC has another name, maybe modified excluder?

At any rate cutting something very starling resistant into a natural gourd, I use a 1 1/8" hole saw. I cut 3 holes in a line, that are spread no more than 3" wide from one end to the other. That leaves "pips" sticking up and down between the 3 holes. Two on top, two on bottom. I cut the pips off the top, leaving it flat, and leave them on the bottom. Those pips stick up like the humps on an excluder type entrance. I check with calipers to make sure the entrance is at least 1.1875" tall. Hole saws are not precise tools. A 1 3/16" hole saw makes and oversized entrance. If this doesn't make sense, I'll try to attach a picture.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Birds
Posts: 71
Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:35 am
Location: Northeast OH
Martin Colony History: 2017: nothing, 2018: discovered the PMCA, new house modifications 2019:Still no Martins. House sparrow and starling hate forever.

Sorry I'm having a hard time understanding this. But I can relate to letting the birds take care of there young. Once my tree swallows have a nest of eggs and the
HOSPs are taken care of. I just let the nest go and the parents do the rest of the work. I wasn't planning on doing nest checks regularly any way I just need a way to remove the sparrow nesting :evil: . Do you think it would be just as effective if I hung the gourds on my house? A pic would be helpful to thanks.!
2017 :installed a Martin house hoping for Martins.
2018 :discovered the PMCA made modifications to a heath house .
2019 : Still no martins yet. House sparrow and starlings hate forever.
Tip :never give up
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