Tree Swallow Relocation Strategy

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TNMartins
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Smyrna, TN

After 3 weeks of Dawnsong ... still no PMs. Housing still closed up. However, our friendly neighborhood Tree Swallows are more than happy to take ownership of any cavities that are open within an hour. I’ve tried opening a couple cavities 3 times now and the TS show up immediately. I have a separate shepherd’s hook gourd nearby, but the TS don’t seem very interested. They’ll take a look and then leave.

So I need some advice...

- Do I leave the shepherds hook gourd in place and just wait it out until the TS pair moves in, then open the PM housing? (This could take weeks..)

- Do I remove the shepherds hook gourd now, and leave PM housing closed while waiting for the TS gang to go elsewhere? (Unknown how long this would take)

Not sure what to do. The PM window will close before too long, so trying to determine the best option.

Appreciate any advice for those who have successfully dealt with this.

TM
12 S&K B09 Gourds w/ 2 S&K barns converted to 6 cavities each

2016 - 0 visits
2017 - Few visitors late summer
2018 - 1 Pair, 5 Fledged
2019 - Visitors
2020 -
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2939
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Since you don't have any returning martins this year you need to leave your martin housing closed up and only leave the TS housing open. If you have a way to lower the martin housing do that as well. You will keep battling them if you don't leave the martin housing closed. You need to leave it closed until the TS are close to laying eggs. Usually once they start lining their nests with feathers they will not abandon it but if you raise and open your martin housing before that then don't be surprised if they do leave their housing for the tall martin housing. People who don't have to deal with TS don't realize what kind of problem they cause. I have started 2 colonies in an area with high TS populations and they are without a doubt the biggest hurdle to overcome. I always left the martin housing closed unless I physically saw a martin flying around my housing. At that point I open it and see what happens. If the martin moves on then close it back up.

It is also important to make sure the TS housing is around 30-50 feet away from your martin housing. If it is further then that than another pair will move in when you open your martin housing up. TS will be protective of an area up to about 50 feet and won't let other TS nest in that area. It is a fine line you have to walk when starting a martin colony when you have TS.

We have such high TS populations where I am at the one year I had two pair of TS nest in the same gourd rack with martins also present.
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.
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.

Hey TNMartin I feel your pain I have somewhere between 10 to15 TS. And flyin lowe is correct you’ve got to leave your house in closed and set the shepherds pole 30 to 50 feet away from your Martin racks I prefer 30 that’s just my preference. I had my first pair of Martin show up yesterday and as soon as I opened one gourd for the purple Martin pair the tree swallows started to try to get into it but the adult pair of Martin’s were successful in keeping them out. I would be sad if tree swallows would nearest in colonies I would have a nice colony started right now. I don’t try to deter the tree swallows I just give them a place to nest lower to the ground. Honestly like seeing them flying around just as much as I did Martin’s. But it is a chore to try and keep the tree swallows out while opening your gourd rack for the Martins. I have really found that it’s beneficial if you can find someone who has chickens and if they’ll let you rake up some feathers preferably white ones that are noticeable and place them just inside the opening of the gourd or Treeswallow house that you have and play some on the ground in front of it it helps to Lore them to that housing. I hope this helps you out have a great season
randy741985
Posts: 156
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2018 5:08 pm
Location: NE Alabama
Martin Colony History: 2018-First Year 0 Martins
2019- Lots Lookers
2020- TBD

I have the same issue so I put up another gourd on Shepard hook today, just to give them another option. But the feather thing sounds like a good idea I should have keep the feathers from my ts nest from last year.
Last edited by randy741985 on Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
2018-14 Gourds First Year 0 Martins
2019- 14 Gourds Lots Lookers
2020- 6 Gourds TBD
Ryan
Posts: 281
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 4:19 pm
Location: Eganville, Ontario
Martin Colony History: Visitors are rare. Three SY males seen in 10 years.

If you cut a feather shape out of a piece of thin plastic it will work as an attractor.

It sounds crazy but I've tried it. Take a piece of white plastic from a food container or something and make a small 3" long feather shaped piece. Take a short 16" or so piece of fishing line and tie it to the plastic feather and then tie the other end to the underside of the gourd/birdhouse for the tree swallow. The feather attractor hangs under the gourd.

It sounds crazy but they see the white flash in the wind when it spins on the fishing line and draws them in. Once they next I remove it.
Home site: 12 cedar chalets - Plus two satellite sites which are also empty.
2010- 1 SY male on and off for a couple weeks
2011- 0 visits
2012- 0 visits
2013- 0 visits
2014- 1 SY male stopped in here and there for two weeks.
2015- 0 visits
2016- 0 visits
2017- 0 visits
2018- 0 visits
2019- Break-through year. Had a SY Male stop in on June 7th and stay all day, every day until end of June and built a nest. Hoping he returns in 2020 because I'm getting tired of updating this list.
TNMartins
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Smyrna, TN

All -

Thanks for the replies - good input. I just measured and my TS gourd is 27 feet from my 2 PM racks (think 3 poles in a triangle). There are still feathers in the shepherd’s gourd from last year’s TS. We have tons of turkey feathers in the yard, so I could easily cut the white part of some of those up and even hang one from the TS gourd.

As I’m sitting here writing this, the TS is perched on a telephone wire about 100 yards away. That little dude is patiently waiting for another chance at one of those sweet penthouse gourds. Persistent little guy.

In the meantime ... I’ve never heard this mentioned, but is there any value of painting the white SREH covers black so it looks like the gourd cavities are open from a distance? Would it make any difference to PMs flying over to maybe notice potential vacancies?

-TM
12 S&K B09 Gourds w/ 2 S&K barns converted to 6 cavities each

2016 - 0 visits
2017 - Few visitors late summer
2018 - 1 Pair, 5 Fledged
2019 - Visitors
2020 -
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2939
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

I don't think it would make much difference. If martins are in the area and are in need of housing they are going to spend some time checking things out. The housing and or dawn song will draw them to your area and they will take care of the rest. Our TS populations are very high so I have never had to try to do anything to attract them. If you put up some type of gourd they will find it.
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.
Matt F.
Posts: 3896
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

This has been a helpful reference for some:
https://web.archive.org/web/20160807020 ... cy-377.pdf
TheSmiths
Posts: 319
Joined: Mon May 12, 2014 1:02 pm
Location: Western KY
Martin Colony History:

Tried to attract PMs since 2004; began a more ernest attempt in 2014.

2018 — 3 pairs: 1 ASY pair & 1 SY pair in the Trio; 1 SY pair in a supergourd on the gourd multi-rack.

2019 — 6 pairs

2020 — In progress

Current housing consists of two modified Trio M12Ks at 20' and a round gourd rack at 20'.

We've also provided housing for bluebirds, Carolina wrens, house wrens, Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice, great-crested flycatchers and northern flickers for ~15 years.

If all else fails give Larry Melcher's method a try — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGe51zE8Ppo .

TM, there is still plenty of time. The subadults haven't arrived yet. There's also the possibility that an adult pair could lose their housing or abandon due to predation. Our first pair were adults who arrived at our site in June and hatched young July 4.
TNMartins
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Smyrna, TN

Smiths,

Thanks for the Larry Melcher link. That’s a great method too! Now to figure out which way to go. Stick with the current plan (of leaving everything closed until TS take ownership the Shepherds hook gourd - which hasn’t happened yet) or open up PM housing and see what happens with the plan to ‘move’ the gourd that TS take if they move in.

Great distraction during quarantine!

Hope all are staying well
-TM
12 S&K B09 Gourds w/ 2 S&K barns converted to 6 cavities each

2016 - 0 visits
2017 - Few visitors late summer
2018 - 1 Pair, 5 Fledged
2019 - Visitors
2020 -
jasalva
Posts: 73
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:54 pm
Location: DE/Milton

At my previous home I had a real problem with TS. I eventually had to lower the gourds and wrap them in a drop cloth. It was only then that the TS took to the nearby shepherd’s hook with a gourd. When I saw them defending their new location, I unwrapped the gourds and raised them again. In our present home I also have TS, both homes were on/beside water. My BB stay all winter, I feed them, and they set up their nest early and ward off the TS on PM nearby poles. They force the TS to take one of the boxes instead of the gourds. TS are pretty persistent little characters! Good luck. Some years ago I was seeking the same kind of help on this site. You will succeed, I am sure. These. Halle gets are real learning experiences.
randy741985
Posts: 156
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2018 5:08 pm
Location: NE Alabama
Martin Colony History: 2018-First Year 0 Martins
2019- Lots Lookers
2020- TBD

My problem is the TS have not paired up yet. Maybe this week I still got my entrance closed.
2018-14 Gourds First Year 0 Martins
2019- 14 Gourds Lots Lookers
2020- 6 Gourds TBD
Matt F.
Posts: 3896
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Hi Randy,
Sorry to post again if you already saw this.
This has helped numerous folks:
https://web.archive.org/web/20160807020 ... cy-377.pdf
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

TNMartins wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 5:31 pm
The PM window will close before too long, so trying to determine the best option.

Appreciate any advice for those who have successfully dealt with this.

TM
The PM arrival window won't completely close for you until very late May, possibly even early June.

I have 2 Bluebird boxes within spitting distance of all my gourd racks. I had Martins before Tree Swallows started nesting in our area, so I was lucky with that. I would install another BB box or gourd close to the racks. I wouldn't go 30 feet. I'd put the one you have now closer to the PM housing and put another one the new one about 30 feet from it. TRES will nest that close together. I'd leave the PM housing closed, until a TRES pair commits to both gourds. Let them start carrying nesting material and then open some Martin housing. Surely 2 pairs that close together won't allow another pair to build in the PM housing.

To be clear, if you have one PM house or gourd rack, put one TRES gourd 15 feet from it one way, and the other 15 feet from it the opposite direction. Make them claim those gourds, then they should keep other TRES from nesting in the Martin housing.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
randy741985
Posts: 156
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2018 5:08 pm
Location: NE Alabama
Martin Colony History: 2018-First Year 0 Martins
2019- Lots Lookers
2020- TBD

Thanks Brad.
Last edited by randy741985 on Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
2018-14 Gourds First Year 0 Martins
2019- 14 Gourds Lots Lookers
2020- 6 Gourds TBD
randy741985
Posts: 156
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2018 5:08 pm
Location: NE Alabama
Martin Colony History: 2018-First Year 0 Martins
2019- Lots Lookers
2020- TBD

I got one bb box thats already occupied with blue birds and a gourd on a shepards hook I have seen ts go in it but not nesting yet. I also put up one more gourd totally on the other end of my yard hoping they might take that one. Not sure what else I can do.

Yea Matt I have a copy ts emergency. I used Chuck Abare method to move them last year worked good but hope to avoid it this year.
2018-14 Gourds First Year 0 Martins
2019- 14 Gourds Lots Lookers
2020- 6 Gourds TBD
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