Wooden 8-room PM House

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
BumBee
Posts: 406
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:47 am
Location: Sugar Land, Texas

From the time I started hosting Purple Martins in 1999, I've had my ups and downs.
The most I've had was 18 pairs in my two twelve home made aluminum housing. In the
past six to seven years the population came down fast to one pair. The trouble are
hawks in the neighborhood.

My one last attempt to get them back to my backyard is to build two 8-room wooden
housing for them.
PMH-8R-02.JPG
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Matt F.
Posts: 3896
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

[duplicate post]
Last edited by Matt F. on Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Matt F.
Posts: 3896
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Hi Bumby,
It's great to hear from you!
That is a great looking design for a house!
I'm really sorry you've had such a tough time with the hawks.
There are a lot in similar situations. The Cooper's Hawk numbers alone have climbed at a staggering rate in recent years - especially in the greater Houston area.
You've always been great at designing and fabricating your housing.
I remember the individual aluminum chalet style housing you had.
Looking forward to seeing this new house design in the air!
MorganW_AL
Posts: 44
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:21 am
Location: Alabama

This design looks like it would be simple enough to fit some sort of hawk guard attachement off of the perch assembly. It would provide some form of protection against hawk attacks on the housing as well as provide the perch.
BumBee
Posts: 406
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:47 am
Location: Sugar Land, Texas

Hi Matt,
Those aluminum housing you mentioned are still up. This season, I have seen numerous
sub adults like I have seen them in the past few years. No takers.

I am undecided where to put the entrances, high up on the entrance wall or low and even
with the floor the way I have them on the aluminum housing. I have been watching the
room that the single pair are in just about on a daily basis. I've noticed that the entrance
hole is usually block by one of the PM baby. I think because of the entrance hole is on the
floor level, this allows the baby martin to easily crawl to the hole. This in turn resulted with
dead babies inside the nest box. I have seen this in the past but payed no attention to it.

I will make this PM housing with 1/2 inch thick cedar wood, coat the whole thing with a rubberized
material (Flex Shot) then paint the trim for looks.

I thought of making a 12-room houses but I am not sure weather my home made pole will hold
the weight specially when strong winds comes.
BumBee
Posts: 406
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:47 am
Location: Sugar Land, Texas

Hi Morgan,
Yes it would be easy to a metal screen to deter Hawk attacks. All these years I have seen a hawk
taking an adult male as it was coming in to roost.

Your suggestion of attaching the hawk guard to the perch will allow me to raise and lower my PM
houses free and clear of obstructions and doing the nest checks would be a breeze.
MorganW_AL
Posts: 44
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:21 am
Location: Alabama

I haven't looked a lot into a permanently-attached hawk guard, but I may have to if I keep having troubles with hawks as well. Your design with the perch attached to the pole and not the house looks to be ready made for something of the sort. Build the house to raise to the guard, where the natural position of the guard is where the house sits when it is at it's set position.
Fortunately (and unfortunately), the winters are long and offer plenty of time to figure out such things. :lol:
BumBee
Posts: 406
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:47 am
Location: Sugar Land, Texas

Morgan,
The hawk/owl guard can be made to look a five sided box. Hang it up side down that allows
the PM to slide in/out of it when the PM house raised and lowered. If a bottom screen is needed,
this part has to be attached to the bottom pf the PM house.
MorganW_AL
Posts: 44
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:21 am
Location: Alabama

BumBee wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:19 pm
Morgan,
The hawk/owl guard can be made to look a five sided box. Hang it up side down that allows
the PM to slide in/out of it when the PM house raised and lowered. If a bottom screen is needed,
this part has to be attached to the bottom pf the PM house.
There you have it. I will take two! :lol:
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2939
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

What is the depth of each cavity? It looked like 8 inches based on the nest tray but I could be reading that wrong. If I were starting from scratch on a new design I would go 12 inches, especially if aerial predators are an issue. Martins will feel safer in the back of the deeper compartments, they won't be as accessible, and will be more comfortable, especially right before fledging when you could have 6 or more grown birds in there.
2020 Currently 42 nest, 110 babies, 64 eggs left to hatch(6-22-20) HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair last count 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional SY's stayed all summer but never paired/nested.
2016 1 pair fledged 4
2015 Visitors
2014 Visitors
2013 Moved 6 miles away, 1 pair fledged 2.
2012 30 pair fledged 100.
2011 12 pair (11 that nested), 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair, 21 eggs, 16 hatched, 14 fledged.
BumBee
Posts: 406
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:47 am
Location: Sugar Land, Texas

Flyin-Lowe,
The room is 5"W, 6-1/2"T, 10"D. The nest tray is half an inch away from the back wall. The floor is 1/2 inch away
from the back wall as well. This creates a vent all the way up to the attic. The entrance hole and the attic vent
should create a natural air flow through for all of the rooms. The entrance wall is a 1/4" off the floor. This will
let water flow down and not go on to the floors.

The only predator I have here are the hawks and domesticated cats. All I can do about hawks is watch them. As far as
the domesticated cats, I can trap them and turn them in to my city animal control. Neither one of them I can do no harm.
Hawks have taken PMs in my area from the air and scare the heck out the birds.

Question: Which is best? the entrance hole close to the floor? or high above the floor? I use crescent entrances.
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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.

I have built 10 of my own 4-level, 20 compartment wooden houses, all with round entrance holes (I live out in the country and shoot 10-20 starlings and sparrows each spring, so I use round holes). Each level has 5 compartments (three that are 6"x12"x5.5" and two that are 6"x9"x5.5"). On each level 2 of the bigger compartments and one of the smaller compartments have an entrance hole that is located towards the front of the compartment but on the 12" side of the compartment. So the birds have to make a 90 degree turn when they enter the compartment to get to the back of the compartment. The other two compartments on each level have an entrance hole that is in the front and middle of the compartment. I also offer 8 gourds under each house (4 swinging super gourds, and 4 secured Big Bo gourds). My housing does not raise and lower for nest checks...I have to raise and lower myself with a tractor bucket to do nest checks! Over the past 4 years I've had nearly 50 martin nests (32 this year alone). In the past I have only had one pair of martins nest in a gourd, and have only had two pairs of martins nest in a 6x12x5.5 compartment with the entrance hole in the front middle of the compartment. All other nests have been in 6x12x5.5 compartments where the entrance hole is on the long 12" side of the compartment towards the front of the compartment.

Bumbee, would it be possible to change the design of your housing to have the entrance holes of your compartments on the long side of each compartment instead of on the short (front) side of the compartment. Martin pairs at my colony strongly prefer compartments where they have to turn 90 degrees from the entrance hole to get to the back to the nest compartment. I assume the nesting birds feel more secure in such compartments as owls and hawks would have a much more difficult time reaching back and 90 degrees to get to the nestlings.

Good luck with your colony!
BumBee
Posts: 406
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:47 am
Location: Sugar Land, Texas

The attachment PMH-8R-LS-02.JPG is no longer available
Flyin-Lowe
Placing the entrance hole on the long side of the cavity would take a little more tinkering.
This will also make the cavities a little more wet (not sure). I don't have to worry about
hawks and owls opening the access door for their is no ledge on it. this idea of yours
eliminated 8 door locks too. Awesome! (forgot ro remove them from the 3D model)

What I had in mind when I started this design was the least amount of parts and material.
Ease of making with less complicated cuts. Most parts are the same width. The most
complex of this build is the roof and entrances.

I've have this plan for while now but I could not accept the fact of using stock material
thickness, they are so inconsistent. I finally bought a wood thickness planer and this will
give the ability to go a 1/2 inch material thickness I want. This takes 20% off the weight.

Question: How far up from the floor are the entrances of you PM housing?
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flyin-lowe
Posts: 2939
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Crescents are most effective when they are closer to the floor. The way the starlings legs are it makes it harder to get in. On mu two T 14's I have the porch basically flush with the bottom of the crescent. The interior floors are a little lower, not sure if it makes a difference but I figured if for some reason the martins wanted to get out quicker they could.
2020 Currently 42 nest, 110 babies, 64 eggs left to hatch(6-22-20) HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair last count 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional SY's stayed all summer but never paired/nested.
2016 1 pair fledged 4
2015 Visitors
2014 Visitors
2013 Moved 6 miles away, 1 pair fledged 2.
2012 30 pair fledged 100.
2011 12 pair (11 that nested), 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair, 21 eggs, 16 hatched, 14 fledged.
BumBee
Posts: 406
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:47 am
Location: Sugar Land, Texas

Flyin-Lowe,
Thank you for your suggestion. I like it, I think will built it.

I will use a tried and proven BumBee Tunnel Entrance I have used in my aluminum houses.
I added and extra porch for each room, I'm not sure if it will help. I raised the attic an inch,
It change the looks some.
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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.

Looks good! You'll have to keep us posted as to how next year's occupancy goes!

Best of luck to you!
BumBee
Posts: 406
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:47 am
Location: Sugar Land, Texas

randyM,
Thank you,
It looks good in the 3D world. It will depend on wood working skills how well
the build goes specially I will learning how to use a wood thickness planer.

Looking forward to the build and flyin two wood PM houses.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

If you're building the house from scratch, using your own plans, why wouldn't you build the compartments larger? Five inches wide is very small for birds as large as Martins. The Trio houses have 6x6 compartments and those are considered grossly undersized by today's standard. You'll have more square inches per compartment than a Trio but they'll still be too small IMO, but it's your house to build.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
BumBee
Posts: 406
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:47 am
Location: Sugar Land, Texas

Hey Brad,
I have 24 individual rooms flyin now, 12 per pole. 12 rooms are 8"x12" and the other 12 rooms are 12"x6" per room.
I drove around my neighborhood and I see those Red Barn looking PM houses and almost all of them have way more
PMs in them. Five years ago my PM colony was down to two nesting pairs. Now there is a pair that is coming back
to nest the past three years,

I figure that smaller rooms is what the PMs in my area are used to, so why not give them what they like. Another
factor is the weight of the house that my poles will support. I found 6"x8'x3/4" cedar boards at my local big box store
that will do for this build. Plane it down to 1/2" thick in which taking 20% off the board thickness.

The actual cedar board size is 5-3/8"x8'x5/8".
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Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Those entry level red barn houses don't get Martins in them around here. I've never seen one that had Martins in it. It's odd to me that you have larger compartments than your neighbors are offering and you aren't running over with Martins. I assure you, given the chance, Martins will most times pick the larger compartments. Gourds are king in my area and when I started I went from 4 pair the first year, to 30something the 2nd year, to 70something the 3rd year. The 2nd year I started offering 12" gourds with tunnels on them. I understand building houses if you enjoy doing that but if they aren't filling up what you already have you might want to consider adding some gourds. You could use 10"-12" natural gourds and add tunnels and access ports to them. That always satisfies my woodworking/tinkering craving. They are very light in weight so they aren't too hard on the poles and Martins absolutely love them. Anyway, I'm just offering food for thought. Good luck.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
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