How do I discourage Starlings

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Alaningeorgetown
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:05 am
Location: Georgetown TX

Last year we made an 8 nest Purple Martin Condo. After we put it up, the starlings took over and before we realized it and had become established. As this was our first attempt, we did not evict them in time. When I cleaned out the box this year, all 8 spaces had been occupied by Starlings. This year we sealed the box and are waiting for the starlings to give up in order to allow the Martins to take a look. But they are really persistent and are still around the box every day. It’s getting late. What can we do? Once we open the box, the Starlings will be in like a rat up a drainpipe! Should I leave it sealed this year? Help!
James Strickland FL
Posts: 2249
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2003 8:04 pm
Location: Reidsville NC
Martin Colony History: 2017 Had a lot visitors no Matins nesting, hoping 2018 will be different.
2018 Had 1 pair
2019 had 30 pair

If you have round holes change the out for SREH and they will not be able to get in and if they are hanging around shoot them.
PMCA MEMBER
Dave Duit
Posts: 1700
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2019, 54 pair with 218 fledged youngsters. 83 total compartments available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified trio metal house units, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

Likes James mentioned, the Starling Resistant Entrance Holes (SREH) will virtually stop all starling activity. The SREH comes in a variety of entrance shapes, but they are all known as SREH. I used Conley 2 entrances and have never had a starling issue since changing all my entrances to SREH.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2926
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

You can buy the SREH plates and screw them directly over your entrances. You might have to cut the entrance you have out a little larger depending on what size your round hole is. I bought some of the plastic plates and put them on my first T14 which is close to 15 years old and they still work fine.
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.
deancamp
Posts: 412
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

I have the Conley 2 entrances and have not seen a starling be able to push into it although many have tried. There have been a few reports of them being breached, but I don't believe it's common. I still like to shoot or trap them so there is no chance they can figure it out. I'm not always home so the Conley 2 does a good job keeping them out until I am.
Archer
Posts: 757
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:09 pm
Location: Manitoba/Altona
Martin Colony History: six pair in 2014, have grown to 52 pairs in 2017.

You can purchase Sreh entrances right on this website, just hit the Shop tab and pick out the ones you like.
2011- first year trying, a few visitors.
2012-One ASY pair, raised two young, lots of subby visitors. So thankfull.
2013-daily subby visits.
2014-Six SY pairs
2015-18 pair, 83 fledglings
2016-36 pair, 147 fledglings
2017-52 pairs, 192 fledglings.
2018-60 pair, 246 fledglings.
2019-59 pair, 238 fledglings.
mwren
Posts: 108
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:43 pm
Location: OH/Athens
Martin Colony History: I have had my martin colony on the dam of one of my ponds for nine years. The colony has grown each year, but I am now concentrating on helping friends and acquaintances who have shown interests in martins. My colony consists of three T-14's with 8 Troyer gourds attatched to each T-14, a Troyer gourd rack with 12 gourds, and another gourd rack with 18 Troyer gourds for a total of 96 nest cavities. I am having serious predation issues with hawks and owls and am experimenting with various hawk guards and "screens". Established successful supplemental feeding last season during late march and had a blast flipping mostly meal worms and some crickets. Faculty from Ohio University are using my colony as a research site to study parasites that target cavity nesting birds. In exchange for access to my bird trail nest boxes and martin housing, they are banding all birds involved in their study.

alaningeorgetown,

You have gotten the basics of Starling control from some very successful landlords who posted ahead of me. As you have seen, it all starts with STREH entrances to your nesting cavities. Next is removal of the problem with traps that fit in housing along with target practice using an accurate, high end air rifle. DO NOT TRY TO "WAIT OUT THE STARLINGS" . You will lose that game. Just like house sparrows, starlings are extremely persistent and competitive for nesting sites. This is why they have put such a serious hurt on cavity nesting songbirds like bluebirds and our purple martins.
You must keep them out of your housing and do it in a manner that is more "persistent" than these predators.
Good luck, get after them!

Mike
Mike "Bird" Wren
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

All good advice posted above. I’m one of those mentioned above that has Starling's breach the Conley II entrance. It wasn’t an isolated event. I don’t remember how many Starling nests I pulled out last year before modifying the entrance but it was in the teens or low 20’s. If you go with that entrance look up the Lewis modification on here. It works very well.

Other than having all SREH, I shoot every one of them that I can. House Sparrows too
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Alaningeorgetown
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:05 am
Location: Georgetown TX

Thank you all for your posts. I have ordered the Conley II entrances and will fit as soon as they arrive. Am I too late for tenants this year? It’s been warm here and I see a lot of purple martins flying around. When do they pick nests in the this area (Austin, TX)
Spiderman
Posts: 778
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:19 am
Location: Gladewater, Texas

You could buy a Van Ert trap and erect it right next to your Martin housing. It's a live trap, so you could release anything that you catch unintentionally.

But you will have to dispose of the Starlings through some method. It works on Sparrows too.

There are a lot of cavity nesting birds (wood peckers for one example) that are being displaced by Starlings all over the country.
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
deancamp
Posts: 412
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

There are definitely birds still coming into your area. You have time. Are you playing the dawn song? This would really help attract some lookers.
Alaningeorgetown
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:05 am
Location: Georgetown TX

Thanks to you all.

I have looked up the Lewis modification and plan to implement it with the Conley II plates when they arrive. I had a little trouble (from the .PDF) understanding exactly what the modification was. Here is my understanding (and please feel free to correct)

1) Modify the circular hole and install the Conley II plate over the new hole.
2) Install a porch plate that raises the shelf level to the bottom of the Conley entrance.
3) Cut a 1” wide 1/4” deep grove in the porch plate to line up with the entrance center and extend to the end of the porch. I think I have some cedar that I can machine to fit this need.

I see also something about wing guards, but I’ll try this first.

Alan
Archer
Posts: 757
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:09 pm
Location: Manitoba/Altona
Martin Colony History: six pair in 2014, have grown to 52 pairs in 2017.

Hold on there, No need to cut a grove in your porch plate. Just position the entrance plate so that the bottom of the opening is no more than a quarter inch above the level of the porch.(you will have to modify hole as you suggested) The Lewis Mod is to prevent starling from getting in, in those cases where they do manage to get in. Those cases are not that common. The lewis mod consists of putting blocks of wood even with the sides of the entrance so that starlings cannot turn their bodies when trying to get into the Conley 2. It may also prevent wing entrapment, but one step at a time. I have never had an entrapment in my Conley 2. Just get the plates installed and get your house up.
2011- first year trying, a few visitors.
2012-One ASY pair, raised two young, lots of subby visitors. So thankfull.
2013-daily subby visits.
2014-Six SY pairs
2015-18 pair, 83 fledglings
2016-36 pair, 147 fledglings
2017-52 pairs, 192 fledglings.
2018-60 pair, 246 fledglings.
2019-59 pair, 238 fledglings.
Alaningeorgetown
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:05 am
Location: Georgetown TX

OK, I hope I have attached a picture of the condo while in construction. Here is what I will do:

1) Modify the holes
2) Raise the porch step to within 1/4” of the entrance hole.
3) Fit the Conley II

I’ll attach a picture when I am done.

Thanks again.

Alan
Alaningeorgetown
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:05 am
Location: Georgetown TX

Sorry for the delay. We were grounded due to both having COVID 19 symptoms (And the house is at my son’s place), but turns out we tested OK. So I have only completed the modifications today. Too late for this year I fear, but I have cranked up the house to test it for the remainder of the year. The starlings were showing interest even as I made the changes. They are really persistent.

I fitted the Lewis mods and raised the step. I have again tried to attach a photo.

Thanks gainful your help,

Alan
Duke
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2020 9:43 am
Location: Corpus Christi

Introduce them Starlings to Mr .177 Cal pellet. I was having trouble with them too but after dispatching a few they don’t come around anymore. We all know these are invasive species that do harm to our native birds and PM. They would fight with my Martins and actually pull them off the porch. Not any more but now it’s dealing with the pesky HOSP. Good luck.
Mike Mack
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:56 pm
Location: Centex

Hi Alan,
Best of luck dealing with the starlings. Hopefully with your entrance modifications they will be discouraged enough to move on. No matter what don't give up. There is still plenty enough time to attract martins this season in central texas. Keep us posted. Mike.
Alaningeorgetown
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:05 am
Location: Georgetown TX

Well it’s amazing. There is at least one starling who has managed to get into the modified entrance. It take them a LOT of effort and they have a hell of a time getting out again. I assume they will give up at some point? It would NOT work for a nest for them I think.
4th Gen Martin Fan
Posts: 1483
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:19 pm
Location: TN/Collierville
Martin Colony History: I have been exposed to purple martin sounds in utero when my mother went out to get my father away from his martin colony.
I played around the martin colony every summer and watched as my father maintained his colony. In the late 50's until the 70's he did not notice European Starlings in south Texas.
When old enough, I helped maintain his colony. My primary task was eliminating English House Sparrows with a 1956 Benjamin 317 .177 air rifle.
When I settled into my own home, I started my first colony with an original Trio Castle and Trio Grandpa. When I moved again, I did not put up any martin houses. Frustration with European Starlings in the Southeast US was overwhelming.
Found PMCA Forum and learned about modern enlarged compartments and SREHs.
Inherited my father's last martin house, a Trio Grandma, modified it to modern specifications and have had good results since then.

Alan,
You must be frustrated by the continued breaching of starlings through your Conley II entrances. Especially after you elevated the porches.
Some people will advise you that the Conley II entrance is okay by itself. As you have experienced, that is not true.
Porch elevators are an excellent addition BUT if the porch elevators are too far below the base of the Conley II then the starlings can still get their feet under them to push their way through. If the porch elevators have any texture then the starlings can use their claws to push their way through.
I sense that you are an experienced woodworker with excellent woodworking tools.

I propose a properly executed Lewis Modification to Conley II entrances. You are aware that a trough is involved in the Lewis Modification. That trough is necessary because the porch of a Lewis Mod is much closer to the base of the Conley II entrance than 1/4". The trough only needs to extend back about 1" and does not need to extend across the entire porch.
I have asked Mr. Lewis, the original designer of the Lewis Modification, to give precise measurement for a properly executed Lewis Mod. Specifically how close is the porch to the base of the Conley II?
The Lewis Mod can be completed to stop the starling breaches now and help you get purple martins this year.

I would like to know how many compartment are in your house so I can do my part to help you ASAP.

Sorry about the extra pictures, I cannot get the extras deleted.
Attachments
Lewis Mod to Conley II Entrance (2).jpg
Lewis Mod to Conley II Entrance (2).jpg (32.97 KiB) Viewed 1015 times
Lewis Mod to Conley II Entrance (2).jpg
Lewis Mod to Conley II Entrance (2).jpg (32.97 KiB) Viewed 1016 times
Full Lewis Mod on Troyer Horizontal Gourd.jpg
Full Lewis Mod on Troyer Horizontal Gourd.jpg (143.48 KiB) Viewed 1016 times
Lewis Mod to Conley II Entrance.jpg
Lewis Mod to Conley II Entrance.jpg (17.23 KiB) Viewed 1016 times
Mark.
Firm believer in HOSP/EUST Control, Enlarged Compartments, SREHs, Pole Predator Guards, Owl/Hawk Guards, Mite/Parasite Control, Housing Insulation, and Vents for Compartment Cooling.
PMCA Member.
Lewis
Posts: 240
Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 3:21 pm
Location: Georgia/Newnan

Alan, I raised my porch flush with the ConleyII sreh using 1/8 in. POLYMAX or HDPE. The TROYER gourds come with a porch that is 1/8 in. below the entrance so by using the 1/8 in HDPE sheet you can buy from Amazon in small sizes I made the porch flush with the entrance then I used a Dremel tool to sand a grove so that the porch does not interfere with the dip in the ConleyII assuring a 1 and 3/16 in. opening. AS shown in Mark's photos you need to install the WEP or wing guard directly over the ConleyII entrance and flush with the new floor.

I know Troyer recommends installing the plate 1/4 in. below the entrance and maybe that works for him, but that is different from my modification. I sensed some confusion on your part after reading my description in the UPDATE , so I hope this helps. The WEP keeps the starling away from the entrance and makes it enter straight on which it can not do because of it's size and the flush slick floor makes it bend down puts it's long legs behind where he can get no traction to push. Hope this helps.

Lewis
Spring Garden Keeper
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