My Purple Martins Obviously Like Gourds!

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4221
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

My Purple Martins Obviously Like Gourds!

Postby Steve Kroenke » Tue Aug 27, 2019 9:39 am

My Purple Martins Obviously Like Gourds!

I started using natural gourds for purple martins way back in the 60s in north Florida when I was just a boy! I eventually switched to all plastic gourds in my current martin colony in northwest Louisiana in 2010 though I still like the naturals a lot. My martin colony has flourished using plastic gourds and in 2019 I erected 310 of them and at least 300 had martins nesting!

In my colony I use Troyer Horizontals with tunnels/porches and with cling plates, Troyer Verticals, Excluders and Super Gourds. All these brands are well made, opaque (non-translucent), durable and well-liked by martins. I have Super Gourds that are at least 20 years old I believe and still look almost brand new, particularly when I give them a good washing with water and a little bleach. The plastic on all these gourds is dense, UV protected and resistant to sun damage. I believe these gourds will still be around when I no longer am!

Even though martins are colonial nesters, they still like some space between pairs and protect their territory. Gourds can provide that territorial privacy when suspended on racks with space between each gourd. Gourds can minimize nest domination behavior by aggressive martins which often take over multiple cavities. Most of my gourd racks, including a 36 gourd system, are 100% occupied each season by martins.

If you are trying to attract martins for the first time, I would recommend you consider a gourd rack. There are some excellent starter gourd racks offered by the PMCA. Sometimes the addition of gourds to an unoccupied colony can be just the stimulus to attract breeding pairs of martins!

Now there are great martin houses, too and I have successfully used Trios, Lone Stars, Sunset Inns, Coates, and my favorites Trendsetters. But I must confess that gourds are my favorite.

Here are some photos of gourd racks in my current martin colony taken at different times. As you can see, my purple martins obviously like gourds!

Image

Image

Image
PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season

Hanover Bill
Posts: 583
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 3:10 pm
Location: Pennsylvania/Hanover Township
Martin Colony History: 2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72

Re: My Purple Martins Obviously Like Gourds!

Postby Hanover Bill » Wed Aug 28, 2019 6:51 am

Steve;

My colony kind of evolved a little differently. I started off with a plastic house, then a house and some gourds. I only got nesters when I added a T-14 to the mix. It seemed to be the deal maker in attracting my first nesting pairs. However, after those first nesters the gourds won out in a big way. Now my Martins clearly prefer the gourds over the T-14. My gourd racks are full and the T-14 always has some vacancies in it.

It would be interesting to know exactly what goes into their decision making when selecting a nesting compartment. Type of housing, directional orientation, etc. etc. I guess that's something for us to ponder.

Hanover Bill.
2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72

Dave Reynolds
Posts: 1756
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:35 pm
Location: Little Hocking, Oh.
Martin Colony History: 2018 Success at Satilite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”.
2019 Success at my home Site

Re: My Purple Martins Obviously Like Gourds!

Postby Dave Reynolds » Wed Aug 28, 2019 7:51 am

Steve;

My colony kind of evolved a little differently. I started off with a plastic house, then a house and some gourds. I only got nesters when I added a T-14 to the mix. It seemed to be the deal maker in attracting my first nesting pairs. However, after those first nesters the gourds won out in a big way. Now my Martins clearly prefer the gourds over the T-14. My gourd racks are full and the T-14 always has some vacancies in it.

It would be interesting to know exactly what goes into their decision making when selecting a nesting compartment. Type of housing, directional orientation, etc. etc. I guess that's something for us to ponder.

Hanover Bill.
..
.
.... Bill... That's an interesting story... This was my first year of hosting a pair of Martins and my story goes like this.. The Martins slept in separate rooms in the T-14, the first week they were here. Then they started building in another room in the T-14 and spent their night in that room. After ten days of building, they abandoned the T-14 and flew about 60 feet away and started a new nest in a gourd on my gourd rack. I don't know why they decided to change from the T-14 to the Gourd rack. The nest in the T-14 was complete and had green leaves in it.. They left the T-14 room that was facing due West and re-nested in a gourd facing Northeast.. Laid 5 eggs, and fledged 5 young..

Dave
Home Site
2019 — First pair, 5 eggs, 5 hatched, 5 fledged :wink:
2010 / 2018 -- Lots of Visitors

Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”
2019 -- 26 Pair, 128 Eggs, 99 Hatched and 97 Fledged :wink:
2018 — 15 Pair, 58 Eggs, 38 Hatched and 36 Fledged :wink:

PMCA Member

Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4221
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Re: My Purple Martins Obviously Like Gourds!

Postby Steve Kroenke » Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:00 pm

I've noticed in all my martin colonies, those in north Florida where I previously lived and now in northwest Louisiana, gourds have generally been better occupied than my various multi-compartment houses. It is difficult to say if this is a "true preference" or if the gourds provide that territorial privacy that martins may like and minimize nest domination problems. I have generally seen more nest domination behavior in houses than gourds.

In addition to plastic gourds I also used four aluminum Trendsetters in 2019 and these houses were well occupied by martins. I have had these type of houses nearly 100% occupied before. I usually achieve at least 75% occupancy levels in these houses and my 12 room houses often have around 10 rooms occupied. My Trendsetters are designed to maximize occupancy levels by having only one hole per floor, staggered hole placement and porch dividers. All these features help to provide territorial privacy and reduce nest domination by aggressive martins.

For 2020 I am replacing two of my 12 room Trendsetters with two 24 gourd racks. I will probably eventually replace the remaining two Trendsetters after 2020 with gourd racks. I have always preferred gourds over houses. But the Trendsetter is my favorite aluminum martin house. Just like those gourds better!

In some places like the Deep South martins may show a definite preference for gourds. These areas often have a long history of martins nesting in gourds and perhaps martins just look for gourds as nesting sites. I've talked with some southern landlords who had no luck attracting martins until they erected gourds.
PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season


Return to “Purple Martin Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google [Bot], MSN [Bot] and 11 guests