The Lewis Mod

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

Rodger Drye asked about this in another thread. I thought I'd post it in a new thread in hopes more people would see this important tool.

This is an extremely effective way to increase the Starling resistance of an SREH opening. I have been all SREH since I started my colony 17 years ago. I started with crescents, then moved to homemade WDC / Modified Excluder openings within a year after I started making my own tunnels. The first "store bought" SREH that I offered was the Conley II entrance. It was extremely Starling resistant for several years. I suspect I had some Starling problems and didn't know it during the 2017 season, and maybe some before that, but at the end of the season in 17 I had a few Starling nests in my gourds. Last year started out really bad with Starlings entering gourds left and right. I jumped on this forum and asked for advice. Someone quickly posted a link to an issue of the PM Update showing the Lewis modification. I can't remember Lewis's last name but his screen name on here is simply Lewis. I ordered some WEP's from the PMCA and gave them a try. don't remember how many Starling nests that I ripped out of my gourds, but it had to be close 15-20 out of 102 gourds. I left the nests for a few days and did the Lewis mod. Only one of the Starlings that had built a nest was still able to enter. Only the female, the male could not enter. I killed 19 Starlings off the two gourd racks in my back yard one Saturday as they tried to get back into their nests.

Thank you again Lewis, for posting your idea. It surely saved my colony. After deciding to expand this year, I needed more WEP's and ordered them. When I got them, they were much different than the ones bought last year. Thanks to some contact by members here with the PMCA, they are now offering a WEP again that will work for this modification. I haven't seen one in person, but that's what John Barrow reported on this website. I ended up making 120 of these, for my expansion and to use on some replacement gourds on the racks down at the barn. I also made 32 for my neighbor. I sanded the inside of the curve smooth but left the outer edge "saw rough" because it doesn't effect the WEP and won't bother the birds. I was ready to get finished working with that dang UHMW!

Image
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
bobeteb
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:03 pm
Location: IL/Breese
Martin Colony History: 2014 no birds 12 rm trio house
2015 1 ASY pair fledged 5 modified trio to large rooms with 4 TVG under
2016 added second gourd rack with 2 THGs and added third floor to trio
2 ASY pair fledged 10.
2017 added 2 Bo 11 gourds, 6 pair 26 eggs 23 fledged.
2018 adding 2 more THGs and a 4th floor to the trio, hopefully something for everyone. All SRE, cant shoot in town, can't wait for April.
2018 16 pair fledged 65, great summer.
Just finished building a T14 and will be hanging 4 troyer gourds under it so we will see if my returning birds approve of the improvements for 2019.

Mind sharing what material you used to make them and where to get that material
Thanks bob
Lewis
Posts: 240
Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 3:21 pm
Location: Georgia/Newnan

Thanks Brad for sharing your modification and thanks John Barrow for interceding with PMCA. No SREH has been found to be starling proof,but my full modification with HDPE raising floor even with Conley II entrance makes it impossible or almost for any starling to enter and here is why:
1. They can not enter straight on because of their size.
2. They can not enter sideways because the WEP keeps them far enough away from the entrance ,they can not put their head or foot in to leverage their way in.
3. Because of the raised slick floor and the WEP, They must bend with their head down and their feet behind, so they have no push.

I am so glad it worked for you . I can think of several others on this board, I don't remember their names, but their colony's were over run with starlings and they used the modification with success. Thank Mark, "the 4th gen. martin man" for helping these people with the modification.

Take care and Keep the faith.

God bless in these trying times.

Lewis
Spring Garden Keeper
paule
Posts: 81
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:06 pm
Location: Central Iowa
Martin Colony History: 5 Modified Trios 10 Gourds and 1 B&B
2019 24 Pair 83 Fledged
2018 23 Pair 92 Fledged
2017 26 Pair 105 Fledged
2016 21 Pair 99 Fledged
2015 15 Pair 59 Fledged
2014 18 Pair 40 Fledged
2013 16 Pair 30 Fledged
2012 10 Pair 30 Fledged
Started in late 1980's

Brad Biddle wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 4:24 pm
I thought I'd post it in a new thread in hopes more people would see this important tool.
Brad,
Years ago I read about the "Lewis Mod". I can not remember if I first read it here or on the Purple Martin Update. I must say I was skeptical. I had 6 Troyer vertical gourds hanging under a housing complex and only ever had 1 pair in them. Even though the housing above had pairs. I had WEP's left over after installing them in all the Trio crescents. I installed them with screws in the Conley ll entrances as an experiment with little faith. That was the spring of 2017. I felt I could easily remove them if that possible returning pair would reject the Lewis mod. Went from only 1 pair in them for years to 5 pair in them that year. I was amazed how readily they accepted those new entrances. After that I installed them on all my gourds. I sent Lewis a big thank you as I now do the same with you for readdressing this modification.
Thank You
Paul
Project MartinWatch participants and supplemental feeding is provided. I also add heat to housing when needed.
Rodger Drye
Posts: 671
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:07 am
Location: NC/Mt. Pleasant
Martin Colony History: Have been hosting and providing a sanactuary for Purple Martins for 30 years.

Brad,

I have about 25 or 30 of those still in a mailing box down in my Block Shop. I remember back about 2015 I decided to go with some Aluminum housing. I bought a Sun Set Inn and a Coates 8 Room. All had crescent entrances. I couldn’t get a single Martin to nest in those Aluminum houses, just Sparrows. I gave the Coates house away to a friend and still have the Sun Set Inn laying down there on a shelf, brand new - never used.
I’ve basically gone with all Gourd’s of different kinds. Troyer Horizontal’s are my favorite with BO-11’s coming in second. I do have Big Bo gourd’s with tunnels, Excluder and Super Gourd’s.
I did break down and got a Poly Wood T-14 from Andrew Troyer just to be different this year. Hoping the Bird’s will take to it in a good way.?
Most all my entrances are Conley II or Crescents. The Troyer Horizontal’s and Verticle’s as well as the Big Bo gourd’s and the BO-11’s all have WEPs built in and of course the S & K gourd’s have 3” Ultimate Tunnels. My Bird’s like these gourd’s the best and are always filled each year.

The only Gourd’s that do not have a WEP are the Excluder and the Super Gourd’s and this will be my first year in using them. After Steve Kroenke encouraged me to use them instead of just letting them sit around collecting dust.
Time will tell if Starlings breach those entrances. If so I’ll have to deal with that when the time comes.
I did’t know that was what folks called the Lewis Modification. If I did I must have forgotten it.
Thanks for posting the photo Brad and reminding me.

Rodger
PMCA Member
Have been Hosting and Protecting Martin's for 30 years.
TerryW
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:02 pm
Location: Nashville, Arkansas

Great thread, as usual, my friend! Great mod too, Lewis!
white-out
Posts: 73
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:21 am
Location: ohio

bobeteb wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 1:00 pm
Mind sharing what material you used to make them and where to get that material
Thanks bob
Is this info banned to post here? thanks
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

bobeteb wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 1:00 pm
Mind sharing what material you used to make them and where to get that material
Thanks bob
UHMW is the material. I'm not sure where you'd be able to get it. I bought it through our business from an OEM that we are a dealer for. In that application it's used in poultry litter spreader beds. What I used was left over from a project we needed it on. It's very hard to work with to make WEP's from. I'd suggest getting some 1/2" thick Sintra if you want to make them yourself.
TerryW wrote:Great thread, as usual, my friend! Great mod too, Lewis!
Thanks Terry. When I say that this mod saved my colony, I mean it. I don't think Starlings would have ever completely bullied out all my Martins, but when I finally realized what had happened due to my inattention for a couple of years, they had sure knocked a dent in the Martin population here.
Rodger Drye wrote: Brad,
I’ve basically gone with all Gourd’s of different kinds. Troyer Horizontal’s are my favorite with BO-11’s coming in second. I do have Big Bo gourd’s with tunnels, Excluder and Super Gourd’s.
I did’t know that was what folks called the Lewis Modification. If I did I must have forgotten it.
Thanks for posting the photo Brad and reminding me.

Rodger
You're mighty welcome Rodger. I tried putting up a Trio Castle one year that I enlarged the compartments on. Martins around here just don't nest in houses. I hung three gourds under that house. I intended to make the Martins nest in it. They intended to show me they wouldn't. I ended up taking it down. Never did have a PM nest in it. BTW, I tried to call you late last week to help walk you through the postimage.com thing. I didn't get an answer. I'll try again later in the week.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Rodger Drye
Posts: 671
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:07 am
Location: NC/Mt. Pleasant
Martin Colony History: Have been hosting and providing a sanactuary for Purple Martins for 30 years.

Hey Brad,

My Bird’s are the same way. They just don’t like an Aluminum house.! I know some folks can’t believe it but it’s true. Like I said I’ve got a brand new Sun Set Inn Aluminum house setting on a shelf that I’ll sell pretty darn cheap. - LOL.! :!:
That’s no problem Brad we get flooded with so many phone calls daily. We may have seen it and if we don’t recognize the number we don’t answer it. What is your zip code so we can kinda be looking out for it.? Better yet if you want to contact me click on my contact icon below my name and give me your phone number and I’ll call you. We can call anywhere in the continental US for free so there is no long distant charge.

That scares me when you say something like that. I’ve just spent all that money on this T-14 house and it would be a crushing blow if my Martin’s don’t ever use it. I’m keeping my fingers’s crossed...!

Rodger
PMCA Member
Have been Hosting and Protecting Martin's for 30 years.
cchild03
Posts: 412
Joined: Sun May 28, 2006 12:03 pm
Location: Kansas/Leavenworth

I'm at my wits end with starlings breaching my Troyers with the Conley II tunnels. This morning, I found a dead martin with head damage, and I haven't been that mad in a long time. I have about four starling pairs hanging around. I have traps on the gourds right now and am hoping to catch a few that way. I'm so glad I found this modification. I understand that the Lewis Mod involves raising the porch and adding the WEP to the outside of the gourd entrance. But Brad, I think you're having luck without raising the porches. Is that correct? I plan to order the WEP today.
Candace
TerryW
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:02 pm
Location: Nashville, Arkansas

After returning from my 15-year hiatus and seeing the Conley, I said to self, self, that doesn't look very starling resistant! You confirmed that for me, Brad.

Now, my other concerns:

Why did the PMCA stick a patented entrance on their SG, after all the knowledge site operators just hand over to them on this forum, they don't want us duplicating them? Why did both the PMCA and Troyer make their aleady heavy gourd offering so much heavier with those gosh-awful heavy porch setups? And the porch setup for the Troyer have splits in porch/tunnel addition about every 4th one.
Rodger Drye
Posts: 671
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:07 am
Location: NC/Mt. Pleasant
Martin Colony History: Have been hosting and providing a sanactuary for Purple Martins for 30 years.

Cchild03,

There’s nothing more traumatizing than to find one of your Martin’s with it’s head pecked and or damaged or killed from a run in with a Starling. I’ve had pretty good luck with my Conley II entrances so far, and I do use some Crescent entrances. Ridding my property of Starlings is a constant vigil for me here on the farm.
One thing that has invariably helped me has been the Repeater trap I built a few years ago. It’s always there standing guard, even if I’m not. I trap and destroy countless Starlings each year with this little beauty.!!
It has a round hole to the trap which I believe Starlings around here really are attracted to. They just can’t resist hoping in whether it’s their nest or some other bird’s. However, for sure if they hop in my repeater it’s over for them.

I wish I could have round holes in my Martin Gourd’s but that’s just not gonna happen around here for me. So the next best thing for me is Conley II and my Repeater trap Combo.

Rodger
PMCA Member
Have been Hosting and Protecting Martin's for 30 years.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

cchild, yes that's correct. I did not raise my porches. I did have one female Starling that was still able to enter them. She was in a gourd, on the backside of the rack, away from my house and it took me 3 days to get a kill shot on her.

Just so you know, I live in the country and can and do shoot Starlings with my 22 rifle. I use subsonic ammo and it's almost a mile to the next road and house over, behind my racks. I didn't give any of those Starlings that had already built nests in the gourds long to see if they could get back in. It was early enough in the season that they didn't have eggs or nestlings, so if they had already had either of those, then they might have had enough drive to push past them.

So, what i'm saying, is that you might have to raise your porches. As far as I know, I haven't had a Starling enter one this year. I also haven't allowed many to stay around long enough to get many attempts at it.

My neighbor installed them on his new Troyer gourds and I do see a Starling sitting on one of his racks pretty often, so I don't know if it's claimed a gourd or not. I can say with 100% certainty that he has more Martins now than he's had in the past several years. I saw at least 6 over there this afternoon. That tells me that the Starlings aren't being too successful because last year that's all he had nesting over there. He said he had one pair of Martins last year, but I don't remember seeing them.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

TerryW wrote:
Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:49 pm
After returning from my 15-year hiatus and seeing the Conley, I said to self, self, that doesn't look very starling resistant! You confirmed that for me, Brad.

Now, my other concerns:

Why did the PMCA stick a patented entrance on their SG, after all the knowledge site operators just hand over to them on this forum, they don't want us duplicating them? Why did both the PMCA and Troyer make their aleady heavy gourd offering so much heavier with those gosh-awful heavy porch setups? And the porch setup for the Troyer have splits in porch/tunnel addition about every 4th one.
Terry, that's the thing.... They were really Starling resistant for several years. At least they were for me. I don't remember when the Troyer vertical gourd went on the market but I'm fairly certain that I bought some that first year. Until 2018 I'd never personally seen a Starling enter one.

I agree with you on the patent issue. I know folks use to get all hot under the collar about Duke Snyder having a patent on them. That never bothered me, he's the one that came up with it. I really don't understand why the PMCA has it now. I guess so other MFG's can't use it. I'd use them if they were offered on tunnelled gourds, but they aren't.

Are you saying you've had issues with the Troyer tunnels/porches splitting?
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Lewis
Posts: 240
Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 3:21 pm
Location: Georgia/Newnan

you can use the WEP without raising the floor and it will work for awhile but if the starling has traction and is small enough it will get in. You can find the HDPE ( high density polyethylene) POLYMAX on Amazon in small 1/8 in. sheets for making your floors. If you have the number of gourds Roger or Brad has I would buy from FARM TECH. If you do the full mod , the starlings will eventually leave your site.

Lewis
Spring Garden Keeper
TerryW
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:02 pm
Location: Nashville, Arkansas

Brad Biddle wrote:
Tue Apr 07, 2020 8:26 pm
TerryW wrote:
Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:49 pm
Are you saying you've had issues with the Troyer tunnels/porches splitting?
Brad asked the above question.

Troyer Horizontals that I bought this year about every fourth one had a long split in it. I don't think they are going to ever fall off because the push pins hold them on real good. They are just unsightly with the split. I didn't complain, so I can't do anything about it now, but others have voiced it too on one of the other forums. Course I could scuff it up a bit and cover it up with caulk...pretty pricey gourd tho to have that as a defect.

I pretty much forgot about my opinion on the Conley until this thread because others have also said they have had no starlings enter their Conley.

I had forgotten that this Snyder guy had the patent on the original Excluder.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

That’s interesting about the splits. I made a large “group” purchase of 108 Troyer Vertical gourds this year for my neighbor and I and while I haven’t unpacked every gourd yet, I have unpacked over 60 of them, I haven’t had any issues with that. It’s got to be the same tunnel on both gourds. If I do find some, I’ll definitely expect replacements. I’m not paying that much for defective equipment.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
TerryW
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:02 pm
Location: Nashville, Arkansas

Could it be Troyer is passing them off to PMCA, because I got mine from PMCA?
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.

cchild03,
How many Conley II entrances do you currently have?
With Full Lewis Mod, the European Starlings won't even hang around your colony anymore because they will not be able to breach.
The Purple Martins will have no problems entering and exiting the Full Lewis Modified Conley II entrances.

I have not heard a single breach by Starlings after the Full Lewis Mod. I am not guaranteeing it could NEVER happen but so far no problems.
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.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

No idea on that
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
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