Here is my set up that has martins thriving in a small residential yard.

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i_carumba
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:27 pm
Location: Southern Saskatchewan, Canada

Our first attempt was last year and we had 4 pairs.
This year there are 9 pairs.
Hopefully next year we will have more (there are 16 nest trays total)
Currently 21 eggs and 17 hatch-lings (Canada so they are well behind the southern birds)
The houses are at each back corner of the yard about 11 ft high.
There are lots of obstructions around, power poles, trees, houses etc but the birds are doing just fine.
So even if you dont have an ideal location it does not hurt to try anyway!
I do control the sparrows, that is pretty important.
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Dave Reynolds
Posts: 1883
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:35 pm
Location: Little Hocking, Oh.
Martin Colony History: 2018 Success at my Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”.
2019 Success at my home Site "Little Hocking, Ohio".

-i_carumba..... Great Photo... I’m sure they (The Martins) love the view..

Dave
Home Site “Little Hocking, Ohio”
2010 / 2018 -- Lots of Visitors
2019 — 1 Pair, 5 Eggs, 5 Babies, 5 fledged. :wink:
2020 — 1 Pair, 4 Eggs, 4 Babies, 4 fledged. :wink:
2021 — Waiting on March 2021

Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”
2018 -- 15 Pair, 58 Eggs, 38 Hatched and 36 Fledged :wink:
2019 — 26 Pair, 128 Eggs, 99 Babies and 97 Fledged. :wink:
2020 — 30 Pair, 156 Eggs, 137 Babies and 137 Fledged. :wink:
2021 — Waiting on March 2021

PMCA Member
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2935
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Nice looking site and great to see the northern martin population getting some help. In areas with low populations of martins it is hard to get near 100% occupancy. Since you have 16 cavities it could be tough to get more then 12-14 pair. If you want to increase the colony size more then that you might need to add some more cavities. In the south with higher populations people get 100% but not always. A friend of mine had 50 cavities and for years he could not get over 40 pair. The following year he added a rack with 16 gourds and went over 50 pair the next year.
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.
Spiderman
Posts: 778
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:19 am
Location: Gladewater, Texas

Yeah, 100% occupancy is tough. But you have a very nice setup. If you did add another house your pair numbers would probably increase.

Not having a lot of large trees for the Hawks to hide in is a big plus for your location.
2008 - 33 PAIR - FLEDGED 96 YOUNG
2009 - 51 PAIR - FLEDGED 166 YOUNG
2010 - 45 PAIR - FLEDGED 146 YOUNG
2011 - 33 PAIR - 128 HATCHED, 97 FLEDGED
2012 - 37 PAIR - 119 HATCHED, 101 FLEDGED
Chris B
Posts: 378
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2014 4:10 pm
Location: AL/Toney

Did they populate both boxes or do they prefer one over the other? Those power lines are a plus, mine love them.

I have a mating pair of redtail hawks in the woods at the rear of my place. Flying 1/2 mile for a little PM snack is nothing to them. I wish they would pick on the doves, or better yet the starlings instead.
2014 8 gourds, 3 pairs nested. Ended w/ 24 total
2015 24 gourds, 22 nests. Lotsa birds!
2016 24 gourds and good activity.
2017 32 SREH gourds. Great activity.
2018 40 SREH gourds. Good finish despite big storm damage. No more dangling gourds.
2019 56+ SREH gourds, all on 3/8 rods. Birds did very well.
2020 56 SREH gourds.
GeneP
Posts: 523
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 7:35 am
Location: Kansas, Lawrence
Martin Colony History: 1 gourd rack with 24 gourd capacity. 2018, my 11th year hosting martins.
18 pair in 2017.

I could only wish my site was that opened. Yet, I once had 18 pair on a rack with 20 gourds but that was 2 years ago. They are declining as the neighbors trees are encroaching. I probably have just a few more seasons until the old ones are no longer around. Great luck to you!
PMCA Member, Single Gourd Rack, 2019 marks 12 years hosting martins.
brent
Posts: 178
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:43 pm
Location: Raceland, Louisiana

Nice. How do you control the sparrows?
i_carumba
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:27 pm
Location: Southern Saskatchewan, Canada

There are 5 pair in one house and 4 in the other so they seem to not prefer one over the other.
They do like the power lines and perch on them quite a bit.

As far as sparrows, I shoot the odd one with a pellet rifle but I get most of them with a repeating trap I made.
55 of them have been removed this year so far.
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.

Do you actively manage your colony with nest checks and nest replacements? Your site looks fine. Obviously, the martins accepted it. Especially in areas with lower martin populations, active colony management can significantly increase the local population and produce martins for other potential colonies.. You have enough cavities to establish a viable population in your locale. Smaller colonies can significantly have a positive impact upon martin populations. I believe that 10 colonies of 24 actively managed cavities can produce more martins than one colony of over 200 cavities. In the last 10 years, my colony of 24 gourds achieved 100% occupancy every year here in Wisconsin with over 100 fledged every year.. This area is noted for a decreasing martin population. Careful hands on management to maximize the number of successful fledglings is turning the population around with new active colonies every year. You can do the same in your area.

When you approach 100% occupancy, you can then decide if you can manage the additional work required with increasing martin numbers. The choice is yours. In my case, I decreased my colony to 12 gourds this year to focus on more frequent nest checks. We just banded 61 nestlings out of 12 nests this week. Every chick that hatched has thus far survived. It takes work. Hopefully, they will all make it to fledge.

Good luck with your growing colony.

Good luck in the future. Future martin landlords will thank you.

Ed
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

I’d agree. 240 active compartments would no doubt produce more Martins than 200 active compartments. Seems simple enough
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
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.

Apples to oranges. Active compartments actively managed is key. Providing cavities and attracting martins and then providing lilttle oversight does not permit one to document results. If success is defined as having a nesting martins, providing cavities, attracting martins and cleaning out old nests in the Fall, I hope they are successful. Some martins were produced. Enjoy your success. You earned it. Providing a number of cavities, frequently checking the status of active nests in those cavities, replacing nests to eliminate vermin as needed and documenting the presence of healthy nestlings up to fledging is another philosophy. Do whatever you are happy doing.

I propose that providing only a manageable number of cavities rather than providing cavities that are left to mother nature will fledge more young PER CAVITY. It is possible that we disagree as to active management vs no management. That's fine. Different strokes.One management style can document results, while one cannot. Once anyone reaches a point where hands on management of a martin colony becomes impractical because of the number of cavities provided, successful fledgling of nestlings is an unknown as records are not kept. How many landlords begin with one gourd rack or house, attract martins and begin the process of adding more and more cavities,only to discover that they are unable to do neccesary management that they used to provide to be successful.. I know several who regret overdoing their expansion.

An analogy might be planting a simple vegetable garden or a crop of grain and never cultivating or fertilizing or watching for insect damage. The harvest would suffer.. My post referenced 10 martin landlords actively managing 24 cavities,vs 200 or more cavities left to nature.

Produce as many martins as you are able and pass them on to others.

Ed
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

We don't have an issue with blowflies, and I use Sevin to eliminate mites. There is absolutely no biological reason for people who don't have blowfly issues, or mite issues to do nest replacements. There are warm, fuzzy feeling reasons for people to do them in that case. Writing numbers on a piece of paper does nothing to increase the number of Martins fledged. How many Martins will I have fledge this year? Not sure. Around 400 would be an educated estimate. How many Martins did Steve K have fledge? He doesn't know for sure, but it was a tremendous amount. What about Emil P in TX? A whole lot too.

You just don't like large Martin supercolonies.

I will be increasing my total cavity numbers from 102 to 150-155. That will be even more "improperly managed" Martins to fledge next year. Those poor fledglings won't know what to do when they return in 2021 and start a colony for someone who does nest checks and nest changes every week.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
i_carumba
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:27 pm
Location: Southern Saskatchewan, Canada

I won't be adding any more housing, I figure 16 nests is plenty for a small yard. They are pretty noisy at times and poop all over the place and I don't want to have upset neighbors. I'm sure not everybody appreciates them as much as we do.
I partially monitor and intervene. I open up the houses once a week to look at how they are progressing. I do not touch the birds, or change nesting material. I don't feed them. If a baby or fledgling falls out I will put it back into a house. I figure providing them with good housing and a sparrow free environment should be enough for them to do well. They are wild, not pets after all. But this is only my second year doing this, perhaps my opinion will change over time.
jhcox
Posts: 494
Joined: Thu May 26, 2016 9:23 am
Location: tennesse
Martin Colony History: Started colony in 2014. First pair to stay and raise young in 2018.

I kind of see a point to both ways of doing it but it’s all up to the individual how much they want to interfere with with Mother Nature. I mean if you really think about it they have managed to take care of them self’s form thousands of years. The only real thing that they need from us is what we have taken from them in the first place and that is a cavity to nest in. God has already supplied them with the abilities to take care of themselves I don’t really Think that they need our assistance except for providing the cavity to nest in and to occasionally to place a young bird back into the cavity if it were to fall out. And oh yeah blasting every starling and house sparrow we see.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

I don't want people to think that I'm hating on intensive management. If I have come across that way, that was not my intention. Intensive management is not for me. If it's your thing, great for you, but don't look down on me for not doing it. I've had thousands and thousands of Martins fledge from my site over the years. That's a good thing, regardless of how you feel about my management style. When I started with Martins in 2003 I thought I had to do things exactly like I read to do them online. Nest checks every week, feeding during minor cool snaps, the whole nine yards...

I did that for 3 years or so and instead of enjoying Martins, I started to see them as another chore that I had to take care of. With a then young family, a full time job, a farm with cattle herd and all the associated jobs that creates, I didn't need another job. Instead of enjoying the Martins each year, I ended up viewing them as just another thing I HAD to do. It took every bit of the enjoyment out of them. I lost some of my interest in them over time and my colony declined over the past 2 year period to about 50% of what it was. Those young kids from the early 2000's are grown. One of them moves off to college this fall. She's completed her first two years at a local community college. She informed me last spring that something was wrong with my Martins. She said we didn't have as many as we use to. She was correct. I had a dwindling Martin colony and a impressive Starling colony. When I use to make my own entrances, I never had a Starling breech my homemade WDC entrances. It took them 5 years or so to figure out how to enter a Conley 2. They got good at it. Thanks to Lewis, on this forum I was able to modify the entrances to help keep them out. But several of the ones who could already enter the entrances, still got in. Quite a bit of long range Starling sniper shooting with my 22 rifle and subsonic ammo got the remainders.

This year has been a great rebuilding year. They are thriving again. My electric predator guards were crossed at least once, because they got unhooked without me knowing it. A permanently mounted warning light will now warn me if that happens again.

I don't wish having to rebuild a once thriving colony on anyone. I also don't want anyone to view this HOBBY as a job that HAS to be done.

Like most things in life, moderation is the key. I'm not good at moderation. I'm learning as I go.

I will say this..... I don't let nature take it's course. I do intervene when needed. I have just learned what NEEDED means in my area. The Martins don't NEED nest changes IN MY AREA. Documenting numbers, doing weekly nest checks, feeding when the temp drops to 50 for a high for a day or two don't HAVE to be done.

Does feeding ever HAVE to be done? No. Will Martins die is feeding is NEVER done in AL? YES. Does it happen every year, NO.

If I lived in an area north of here where it was either feed them or let them die, I'd feed 3 times a day if they needed me to. IMO you can't build a sustainable colony up north without feeding. You might have a nice colony but anything longer than a 3 day cold snap is going to kill Martins. In my experience they've got to be on the edge of death to be trainable to feeding and it's important to keep them trained by feeding a little each year whether they need it or not. I had mine trained many years ago, and will have to retrain them when the need arises again.

i_carumba, as your colony gets older, your birds will arrive earlier and you'll be faced with the decision to feed or them die. I hope you decide to feed, but they're under your care. Its your decision, not mine and I'm good with that.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
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