Predator Guards: A Story of Love & Betrayal

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KathyF
Posts: 3518
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 1:57 pm
Location: Missouri/Licking
Martin Colony History: Colony started - 2007 with one pair
As of 2018 - 84 cavities offered, max # of pairs hosted - 82.

Every year, I watch the inevitable arguments on the purple martin forums, regarding whether predator guards should or should not be used (they SHOULD) on purple martin housing.
So this year, I decided to write a blog post to show landlords why it is so important to have predator guards on their poles.
My hope is that it will help not only convince newcomers to the hobby that they need to protect their poles, but also show explicitly WHY it is needed.
I've included several links also to DIY predator guards that some may find helpful.

https://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com/2020/0 ... e-and.html
"Sometimes", said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
2016 - 82 pair
2015 - 76 pair
2014 - 75 pair
2013 - 75 pair
2012-72 pair
http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Great write up.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
JQ17B
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:44 am
Location: St. Louis
Martin Colony History: 2020: Aspiring PM landlord.

Thanks for posting Kathy. I've been reading and soaking up what knowledge I can. In an ordinary setting, is the baffle mounted ~4' up the pole sufficient in order to take care of snakes/raccoons or is netting a "must"?
Kegger
Posts: 116
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:58 am
Location: Awesome Florida
Martin Colony History: Newbie in 2020: 2 pair of SY with 4 eggs each in Troyer Horizontals
fledged a total of 7 Martins

Thanks for posting Kathy, this is a good read and helpful to me as a newbie.
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2936
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

JQ, that can depend on how big your baffle is. When it comes to snakes though the netting is always a good idea.
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.
JQ17B
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:44 am
Location: St. Louis
Martin Colony History: 2020: Aspiring PM landlord.

flyin-lowe wrote:
Fri Apr 24, 2020 7:12 am
JQ, that can depend on how big your baffle is. When it comes to snakes though the netting is always a good idea.
Thanks - I have the 8” diameter baffle sold through the PMCA website for 2” pole. Now wishing maybe I’d gone for the quick release...
Spiderman
Posts: 778
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:19 am
Location: Gladewater, Texas

Everything Kathy is saying in her blog is the truth. Raccoons, snakes, Owls, there are a lot of predators after these little birds that weigh 2 ounces.

It's Crazy sometimes.
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
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Time to move this up, because many folks are getting their first martins about now. Every pole needs a guard to stop raccoons, and some need netting as well, for snakes.
rrmartins
Posts: 1421
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

Hello everybody, everyone needs to read up and take action on this topic. My ten year old colony was nearly destroyed by a large rat climbing the cable and up and over the bird netting, getting into the T14 at night. For ten years I just had the bird netting and I thought I was good to go, boy was I wrong. You have to have a round guard at the bottom, four feet up from the ground, you can make one in five minutes from vent/duct piping sold at any big box store. Luckily I’m back to five nest and three more newbies trying to build nest, I’ll help these guys out for sure!!!
Stay safe and good luck!!!
2019
T14
7 pair
25 fledged
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

rrmartins wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 10:51 am
Hello everybody, everyone needs to read up and take action on this topic. My ten year old colony was nearly destroyed by a large rat climbing the cable and up and over the bird netting, getting into the T14 at night. For ten years I just had the bird netting and I thought I was good to go, boy was I wrong. You have to have a round guard at the bottom, four feet up from the ground, you can make one in five minutes from vent/duct piping sold at any big box store. Luckily I’m back to five nest and three more newbies trying to build nest, I’ll help these guys out for sure!!!
Stay safe and good luck!!!
That's why I like the electric guards so well. No ground predator is going over this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rG-38MSVZc
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
KathyF
Posts: 3518
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 1:57 pm
Location: Missouri/Licking
Martin Colony History: Colony started - 2007 with one pair
As of 2018 - 84 cavities offered, max # of pairs hosted - 82.

rrmartins wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 10:51 am
Hello everybody, everyone needs to read up and take action on this topic. My ten year old colony was nearly destroyed by a large rat climbing the cable and up and over the bird netting, getting into the T14 at night. For ten years I just had the bird netting and I thought I was good to go, boy was I wrong. You have to have a round guard at the bottom, four feet up from the ground, you can make one in five minutes from vent/duct piping sold at any big box store. Luckily I’m back to five nest and three more newbies trying to build nest, I’ll help these guys out for sure!!!
Stay safe and good luck!!!
RRMartins - I remember your story! It required quite the detective work to figure this one out! So happy you figured it out and was able to re-establish your colony.
Thanks for sharing!
"Sometimes", said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
2016 - 82 pair
2015 - 76 pair
2014 - 75 pair
2013 - 75 pair
2012-72 pair
http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 643
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

Kathy,
I too want to thank you for your excellent blog concerning predator guards. We’ve been hosting martins for sixteen years now but didn’t get off to a good start. We are one of those who lost our first nest of six 12 day old martins and the mama to a rat snake. We thought we were safe as we had a baffle but the snake got around it. I was ready to throw in the towel I was so upset. But when I posted about it on here, I received so much compassion and encouragement to not give up.
After that we added netting in addition to the baffle and caught several snakes. My husband got tired of cutting them out of the netting so he added hot wiring at the bottom of our two poles. We still have baffles, netting and hot wiring to deter snakes or other climbing critters. I realized how effective the wiring is when I saw a squirrel start to climb up one pole and he immediately did a backflip and took off in a big hurry :grin:
I never want to go through what we did that first year again.
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