Brand new - could use advice on housing

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pjb4466
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:41 pm
Location: Syracuse, NY

Hello all, I'm just now getting into having purple martin housing here in Syracuse, NY. Built a ~1.5-2" telescoping pole that can be set at 13', 10', and 7' and it's at least 40 feet from any trees taller than it (and about 30 feet from a songbird feeder pole that's only about 8 feet tall, but I can move that a bit further if necessary). Someone built us a two-story cedar house (pictured) with 12 starling-resistant crescents. It's about 30 lbs as it is - so the less weight added the better. :lol: I've seen a lot of discussion about expanding the rooms back and plugging the opposite hole? How necessary a modification is this? Compartments are about 6" wide, 7" deep, 6" tall - ventilation looks really good. Also aware that I have missed this nesting season. Is it much help to keep the housing erected for now regardless?

Thanks for any help, everyone.

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SSMartin
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

When you consider an adult Martin is 6” long and a pair stays in the nest at night and they can have an average of 4-6 young who are practically the same size as the adults when they fledge you can quickly see why those compartments are too small. Expanding the compartments would be very beneficial.

Predators such as hawks, owls, and crows can easily reach in an pull out martins in small cavities. This is why they always place the eggs as far from the entrance as possible.

Expanding the rooms will also make them more attractive to the martins And increase your chances of attracting and getting them to nest. Martins typically will have smaller clutches of eggs if they do nest in these smaller compartments and the chance of early fledging (before they can fly) increases due to over crowding and heat stress.

I’m in the south and my seasons wrapping up with two birds left to fledge any day now. I think you can wait till next year to put it up and you can spend the off season modifying it.
pjb4466
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:41 pm
Location: Syracuse, NY

SSMartin wrote:
Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:08 pm
When you consider an adult Martin is 6” long and a pair stays in the nest at night and they can have an average of 4-6 young who are practically the same size as the adults when they fledge you can quickly see why those compartments are too small. Expanding the compartments would be very beneficial.

Predators such as hawks, owls, and crows can easily reach in an pull out martins in small cavities. This is why they always place the eggs as far from the entrance as possible.

Expanding the rooms will also make them more attractive to the martins And increase your chances of attracting and getting them to nest. Martins typically will have smaller clutches of eggs if they do nest in these smaller compartments and the chance of early fledging (before they can fly) increases due to over crowding and heat stress.

I’m in the south and my seasons wrapping up with two birds left to fledge any day now. I think you can wait till next year to put it up and you can spend the off season modifying it.
Thanks for your reply. I'll definitely plan on expanding the rooms. Consensus seems to be a large-ish hole on the left or right of the back wall? Should I plug the opposite hole with something opaque or would a trace amount of light be beneficial? I wasn't sure whether leaving it up would give the Martins a chance to see it for next year - but if not I want to limit HOSP exposure to it as much as possible I guess. Oh, and that dirty HOWR piling twigs up in all the entrances. :twisted:
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2936
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

It's hard to tell by the pictures but an SREH needs to be fairly precise. If you there a a bit too large and they are not effective, a bit too small and martins can't get in. I can't tell from the angle of the picture but the entrances don't appear to be uniform in the angle of the arch (if that makes sense.) If it was me I would by a plastic SREH plate and put it over your SREH and see how the size compares. If they are not perfect I would enlarge your existing opening a little and put the plastic plates over them. There is no benefit to having light in the back of the cavity, so if you block the back off you don't need an opaque covering.

Leaving the house up this time of year is a good idea, if you can find an insert trap that will fit (I can't tell for sure how the cavities open, and how large the openings are) I would get a trap or two and use them now. The more sparrows you can get rid of now the better off you will be next year.
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.
pjb4466
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:41 pm
Location: Syracuse, NY

flyin-lowe wrote:
Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:58 pm
It's hard to tell by the pictures but an SREH needs to be fairly precise. If you there a a bit too large and they are not effective, a bit too small and martins can't get in. I can't tell from the angle of the picture but the entrances don't appear to be uniform in the angle of the arch (if that makes sense.) If it was me I would by a plastic SREH plate and put it over your SREH and see how the size compares. If they are not perfect I would enlarge your existing opening a little and put the plastic plates over them. There is no benefit to having light in the back of the cavity, so if you block the back off you don't need an opaque covering.

Leaving the house up this time of year is a good idea, if you can find an insert trap that will fit (I can't tell for sure how the cavities open, and how large the openings are) I would get a trap or two and use them now. The more sparrows you can get rid of now the better off you will be next year.
Alrighty, ordered some SREH crescent plates. Thinking they're a bit too tall as they are - no big deal for now until I can get them precise. Knock on wood but I do not have starlings here. Just the sparrows. :)
SSMartin
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

They like the cavities dark as stated above so you can seal off the rear opening anyway you see fit. You can drill a 3” hole in the diving wall or remove most of it they will nest in this back chamber.

I never had starlings either on my farm then one day two land on my gourd rack. Start feeding in the pasture and building a nest. Changed those round holes to clingers and never saw them again.

Make sure you can access the interior for nest checks and parasite control do not underestimate mites they can kill even large chicks if they get out of control.

Also depending on how you mount this house you may want to consider hanging some gourds under it if possible. This can help increase your chances of attracting martins and give some variety to nesting preferences among different birds
pjb4466
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:41 pm
Location: Syracuse, NY

SSMartin wrote:
Wed Jul 08, 2020 9:34 pm
They like the cavities dark as stated above so you can seal off the rear opening anyway you see fit. You can drill a 3” hole in the diving wall or remove most of it they will nest in this back chamber.

I never had starlings either on my farm then one day two land on my gourd rack. Start feeding in the pasture and building a nest. Changed those round holes to clingers and never saw them again.

Make sure you can access the interior for nest checks and parasite control do not underestimate mites they can kill even large chicks if they get out of control.

Also depending on how you mount this house you may want to consider hanging some gourds under it if possible. This can help increase your chances of attracting martins and give some variety to nesting preferences among different birds
Just lifting it up with the telescoping pole and putting a pin or bolt through both sections. So not the easiest thing in the world but doable two to three times a week I think. I'll plan on attaching some gourds as well. The front sections are each hinged so it'll be extremely easy to monitor and clean out.

Great advice, everyone, I really appreciate all of it. So far my plan is to do some modification work to the house:

1. SREH crescent plates are on order. How much will the existing holes need to be widened in order to use these? Obviously enough that the crescent is the smallest point of entry - but any wider than that?

2. Going to tack some 1/4" plywood to the inside of half the holes and drill a hole through the center divider to extend each floor space. I've seen different recommendations on the hole size - from 2 1/8" to 3" to just cutting it out altogether. The largest hole saw I have on hand is a 2 1/2" - if I can soften (sand) this hole size will it be sufficient being that it'll be about 1/4" thick? About how high off the floor should the bottom of each hole be? How critical are sub floors in a cedar house?

3. I went ahead and also ordered two of the Troyer horizontal gourds. I'll get those mounted on the bottom of the house with aluminum angle or something similar. I never dreamed I would fill all the compartments in the house - so 8 dwellings feels plenty sufficient for now. From the looks of things around here it may only be a matter of time before I want to add more. :lol:

Again, thanks to all the suggestions. Still wide open to any other advice if anyone thinks of anything!
Last edited by pjb4466 on Thu Jul 09, 2020 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
SSMartin
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

As far as the new hole size your going to have to fit the plate over it and go from there. The crescent is a good starling resistant entrance and by ordering the plates there’s no guess work. You might even need a jigsaw or something to just cut out a square and then attach the plate. There’s really no wrong way to do it. Just remember you want the landing porch 1/8th of and inch below the entrance. If you have the entrance higher it can help starlings push themselves inside. When they have to bend down to try to squeeze they can’t get much leverage or grip.

If you can remove the center divider do so. If not drilling your hole through the middle will be sufficient. 2.5” round should be ok I personally would go 3” if you can. Either way it’s way better then from where you began.
I wouldn’t worry about a subfloor as long as the housing is dry inside.
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.

White pine needles to pre nest, a little mud on the porch and entrance. And don’t forget the Dawn Song play it in the morning from 4am to maybe 10 each morning. Or you can play it from 4am to sunset that night each day. If you can replace the pole for a pole you can put a wench on weight shouldn’t be a big deal. Finish it of with 4 troyer horizontal gourds one on each corner. Good luck next year.
pjb4466
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:41 pm
Location: Syracuse, NY

jhcox wrote:
Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:33 pm
White pine needles to pre nest, a little mud on the porch and entrance. And don’t forget the Dawn Song play it in the morning from 4am to maybe 10 each morning. Or you can play it from 4am to sunset that night each day. If you can replace the pole for a pole you can put a wench on weight shouldn’t be a big deal. Finish it of with 4 troyer horizontal gourds one on each corner. Good luck next year.
Thanks for extra tips! Luckily have plenty of pine needles to use. Will rub some mud on it once I get the new entrances installed. Cavities have been extended! How loud does the Dawn Song need to be played (I live on an acre with neighbors on either side) and is it advantageous to do this now or just when the season starts up next year? I have two of those gourds coming for now - but if I need to expand that's where I'll gravitate to. :)

Of course now a HOSP is becoming very interested in it. Not a big deal - I knew it would come to this sooner or later either with the Martins or my bluebirds. I have a local wildlife rehabilitator who has in the past indicated she will take trapped invasive birds. So fingers crossed that works out and I don't have to figure out a way to end these little buggers myself.
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.

I would play the Dawn Song as loud as you possibly can with out pissing of the neighbors. It with really draw them When they are migrating north in the spring and it couldn’t hurt to play it this fall as they migrate south. Do you want as many birds as possible to see your set up this fall as they migrate south So maybe some of them will remember it next spring able decide to nest there at your site. Good luck
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.

I would play the Dawn Song as loud as you possibly can with out pissing of the neighbors. It with really draw them When they are migrating north in the spring and it couldn’t hurt to play it this fall as they migrate south. Do you want as many birds as possible to see your set up this fall as they migrate south So maybe some of them will remember it next spring able decide to nest there at your site. Good luck
pjb4466
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:41 pm
Location: Syracuse, NY

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In the process of renovating the entryways and wondered whether this is adequate? The SREH is about 3/8" off the floor (plate is flush with the floor) but there doesn't seem to be a lot of porch to allow a Martin to be able to get its way through. Should I just take the perch rods out or will they be okay? Thanks again for any help.
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.

I believe that they will use the rail to help them push their way into the house.
pjb4466
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:41 pm
Location: Syracuse, NY

jhcox wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 6:02 pm
I believe that they will use the rail to help them push their way into the house.
Huh, no kidding. Pretty cool - thanks!
Whippy
Posts: 598
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:15 pm
Location: Plano, Texas
Martin Colony History: 2016 - late to put up, many visitors
2017 - 1 pair, 3 fledged
2018- 2 pair, 12 fledged
2019 - 4 pair, 21 fledged
2020 - 15 pair, 67 fledged

I would keep a close eye on the perch rod issue. I'm looking at it and trying to imagine a Martin squeezing in between the rod and the entrance. Looks like theres only an inch or so between them. A full grown Martin is 6 inches in length and may have a hard time getting between the two.

So keep an eye on it and be prepared to remove those perch rods but also be prepared to add a perch system in their place if you do remove them. I'm a perch rod junkie and I feel having more perch rods allows the Martins to better socialize yet keep a distance from each other.

Coolwhips
pjb4466
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:41 pm
Location: Syracuse, NY

Whippy wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 8:18 pm
I would keep a close eye on the perch rod issue. I'm looking at it and trying to imagine a Martin squeezing in between the rod and the entrance. Looks like theres only an inch or so between them. A full grown Martin is 6 inches in length and may have a hard time getting between the two.

So keep an eye on it and be prepared to remove those perch rods but also be prepared to add a perch system in their place if you do remove them. I'm a perch rod junkie and I feel having more perch rods allows the Martins to better socialize yet keep a distance from each other.

Coolwhips
Ah, yes this is my concern. I guess I will find out if/when Martins take to the gourds and not the compartments. I guess if I got rid of them I could tack a thin strip of plywood to the outside of those porches and hopefully that would give them some space and a spot to hang out. Will Martins perch on rods underneath housing? I have some 3/8" galvanized rod I could put through my telescoping pole. Just floating ideas. :)
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