SY Has Arrived & TS Wars

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

Hi All,

Fantastic news. After playing Dawnsong for 68 days straight, a SYM showed up on May 16, and has stayed the past 2 nights! Never give up hope.

There’s also been a pair of Tree Swallows here -since 3/26 - defending the PM housing from anything that moves. I’ve successfully relocated them to a shepherd’s hook gourd about 30 feet away. Since they’ve moved, they’ve loosened up on defending the PM housing a bit. They’ve been nesting since about 5/3 and now defending the SH gourd pretty violently. The male TS handles most of the security detail it appears.

The PM doesn’t seem phased by the TS attacks with the M TS harassing him non stop. The PM spent the entire first day looking into every cavity and sparring with the TS. There was at least one mid-air battle lock up. They separated just before hitting the ground. Another time they did wind up on the ground in a fight. PM has no problem holding his own. A couple times the PM flew past the SH gourd to take a look, and both of the TS came out of the gourd and went after him. Not a good idea.

Then last night 5/16 ... the PM was gone much of the day. He’d come back occasionally with others in tow making all sorts of racket when landing on the housing. No followers though. He wasn’t here all afternoon and then showed up right about sunset. He spent a long time on a BO-9 porch looking into the gourd but didn’t go inside. Then he flew up to the porch of the barn (where he spent the previous night). Both cavities were on the opposite side of the TS gourd. It was almost completely dark, when suddenly he flew off and went INTO the TS gourd - with the 2 Tree Swallows!

About 15 seconds later a big ball of birds fell out onto the ground in another epic fight. Eventually the PM flew off and the TS went back into the SH gourd. About 5 minutes later the PM came back and went directly into the BO-9 he’d been eyeing. It was now completely dark.

Anyone else ever see this sort of thing? I guess I’m a little surprised the SY PM is so aggressive. Hopefully he’ll be successful in finding some friends to join him at this late date.

FWIW - next year there is no way I’m allowing Tree Swallows to stay! What a headache.
Next step is to move the TS gourd a few feet at a time until it’s a good distance away from the PM housing. Maybe that will help.

-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: 2898
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

I still from time to time see an adult martin enter into a TS gourd, even though the martin has it's own gourd. I haven't seen it happen at dark though. As far as moving your TS gourd I think I would leave it as is. You are about right in that sweet spot. If you move it a little too far then the TS that are in it will not defend the area where your PM housing is and another pair of TS will try to take up residence in your PM housing. The more the SY martin stays around the less the TS will care about him, and it sounds like you are already seeing that first hand since you said there is less fighting now. (I think I read that right). TS can be a huge burden on new landlords but it sounds like you have overcome that hurdle, you have them nesting and in an area where they are now allowing a PM to stick around. I bet if another TS landed on your PM housing they would go after it which is what you want. Congrats on the visitor and hopefully he can get a mate to stay. Even if he doesn't, don't give up hope. The first colony I started was with a lone SY male who stayed all summer in a cavity trying to attract a mate. He never did that year but the next year he came back as an ASY and went into the same cavity. He had no problem finding a female that year and he also attracted 4 additional pair. As soon as you get some returning martins each year you will no longer have to worry about the TS. They will not chase off adult martins with site fidelity.
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.
TNMartins
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Smyrna, TN

Thanks flyin-lowe - Great advice as always. That makes perfect sense.

One other thought - The male TS spends most of his time perched on the 18' tall PM housing (since it's much higher and probably better vantage point?). Would it make sense to move the shepherd's hook just far enough away where he will perch on it instead? The TS gourd would still in the 'sweet spot' but far enough away that he's not instantly harassing additional PMs should they arrive? I'm thinking more like 40' - 45' away vs. the current 30'. Or will it really matter? I know it's splitting hairs, but June 1 is only two weeks away and the PM window is closing. I don't want to miss a chance for PMs.

If more TS start hanging around I can always move the SH closer again. Any input on this? Thanks so much for your help and knowledge!

-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 -
kim w.
Posts: 89
Joined: Mon May 05, 2014 6:43 pm
Location: IN/Goshen

TNMartins
Were you playing the dawn song 24/7 or just in the morning?
Kim W.
TNMartins
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Smyrna, TN

Hi Kim -

Dawnsong has been running from 5am until 7pm every day. It's playing from a 2nd story window --> pointed above the PM housing. For a while I had it turned off from 11am-3pm to avoid endlessly annoying the neighbors. Everyone's been at home 24/7 for the past 9 weeks, and I'm sure people are wondering what sort of nutcase lives at our place. :grin:
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 -
kim w.
Posts: 89
Joined: Mon May 05, 2014 6:43 pm
Location: IN/Goshen

TNMartins
It dose get very annoying :lol:
Kim W.
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2898
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

If the martin is still sticking around your place you can turn off the dawn song if you haven't already. He will do a better job of recruiting visitors at this point. It did what it was supposed to do. I've personally seen martins become agitated with it and others have reported the same. Some people say they left it on and it didn't seem to upset anything.
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.
TNMartins
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Smyrna, TN

Thanks flyin - He’s back again this morning so Dawn Song off.
Last edited by TNMartins on Tue May 19, 2020 7:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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: 2898
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Hoping he finds a mate.
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.
4th Gen Martin Fan
Posts: 1481
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.

I agree with turning off the Dawn Song as soon as the SY-Male Purple Martin committed to your site.
Any martin that commits to your colony can do a much better job of attracting more purple martins than any Dawn Song recording.

Sounds like the SY-Male is doing a great job. Move the TS gourd to 40 feet. That is still within the sweet spot.
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.
randyM
Posts: 101
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:30 pm
Location: Long Lake SD
Martin Colony History: 2006 - SY pair, unsuccessful nest attempt, 3 houses = 52 cavities

2010 - ASYM + SYF pair - male disappeared after storm, female fledged all 4 young.

2015 - Lone SYM stayed month of June...added 8 gourds = 60 cavities

2016 - 1 nesting pair (ASYM + SYF) 2/3 eggs hatched 2 young fledged.

2017 - 4 nesting pairs, 16/17 eggs hatched, 16 fledged, 16 banded - 2 banded SY returned in 2018 (12.5%), added housing: 11 houses w/gourds, 4 gourd poles = 376 cavities

2018 - 10 nesting pairs, 46/52 eggs hatched, 45 fledged, 29 banded - 3 banded SY returned in 2019 (10.3%)

2019 - 32 nests, 145/160 eggs hatched, 139 fledged - 87 banded in 2019 - 11 banded SY returned in 2020 (12.6%).

2020 - 35 nesting pairs, 199 eggs

I disagree with those that suggest you stop playing the dawnsong/chatter CD once you have a single martin at your colony. If the SY male at your place has stayed for 2-3 days with the dawnsong playing, he's obviously not bothered by it. When this single bird leaves for the afternoon to feed he may be miles away from your colony site. If another martin flies by your colony and the single bird is no where to be seen, wouldn't it be better to have the dawnsong and a few decoys out to maybe entice another martin to stay (perhaps until your single male returns)? I had a SY male visit my colony for the month of June a number of years ago and I continued to play the CD after he arrived. I had a few visitors stop by at that time when the male was gone for the afternoon, however unfortunately they didn't stay. This male came back to my colony the next year as an ASY (he chose the same house and compartment as the previous year - I have 10 houses up, so I'm pretty sure it was him) and attracted a SY female. That year I played the daytime chatter CD until the 4th of July, and the pair didn't mind at all and successfully fledged all their young. My colony has grown a fair bit since then and there always seem to be a few martins at the colony, so I don't play the CDs in the spring any longer. Martins nest in colonies and seem to like the noise of other martins, so keeping the lone pair company with decoys and chatter CD seemed like a beneficial thing to do. Additionally, playing the CD and having martin decoys around your colony might desensitize the tree swallows at your site somewhat from being so aggressive to new martins that might stop by if the tree swallows already are accustomed to the sounds and sight of "martins" at your site. I also suggest that you play the chatter CD during the fall migration, as I do every year and have 2-3 dozen visitors stop by each fall, many of which are hatch year birds that hopefully will remember my site during their migration north the following spring.

Best of luck to you this year and beyond.
TNMartins
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Smyrna, TN

If only we knew what they were thinking.

On the first day the SY Male hung around all day, on the 2nd day he was here only a short time, and on the 3rd day he wasn't here at all. In fact, I'm pretty sure he did not spend the night last night unless he slipped in silently after dark. He was here again this morning for about 20 minutes though looking in gourds. So maybe a good point about keeping the DS CD going for other passers by. I'll go 50/50 and run it 10am - 3pm and see how that goes.

As for the Tree Swallows I don't think anything will desensitize them. They go crazy when the PM is near like they have radar and know he's coming. I keep thinking a whole flock of PMs are coming in and it's always one PM plus the Tree Swallow Defense Force hot on his tail. Just for fun a couple Barn Swallows seem to show up too. Maybe checking out the commotion?

The TS gourd is now at 40 feet - We'll see how that goes. I think the 'perimeter' for this guy is way more than 50'. More like 200 feet (our entire yard).

-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 -
deancamp
Posts: 412
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

I agree with Randy on the dawn song. You can tell by watching if it is bothering them and if it is turn it off while they're there. I would keep playing it until you have a committed pair. Spending the night and nest building.
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