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ECAmartinfan
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:30 pm
Location: Alberta Canada

I am excited to have found this site! A little background: as a child one of my favorite things was to go to my Grandpa's house and sit under the Purple Martin house, watch and listen to them for sometimes hours. Now and then Grampa would come by and imitate their calls. They would sit on the clothes line or bird house above him and cock their heads and answer him back. Fond memories!

Though I have always hoped to attract a few pairs I thought they were an urban bird so did not expect to be successful in a rural setting. Someone gave me a Martin house 3 years ago and I put it up thinking that at least a pair or two of Tree Swallows would show interest. They did but did not stay to nest. The only tenants have been: 1st year - yellow jacket nest, 2nd year - nothing, this year 1 pair of Starlings.

Then in the middle of June it all changed! 3 Purple Martins showed up for a day, on mature male but not sure of the sex or age of the other two as they did not land, just flew around. The male checked out the house several times and made quite a fuss over it until... our resident King Bird came to investigate. A scrap ensued resulting in the male Martin being driven off. He hasn't been back however there is one that returned. I believe it to be a juvenile male because it sits on our internet mast and sings. It is here most mornings an occasionally there seems to be two of them. The hope is that they will return and nest next year.

Any tips to encourage their stay would be appreciated!
johncanfield
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon May 04, 2020 5:13 pm
Location: Texas

Welcome. I've had luck playing an electronic Martin call starting at 4 AM, noon and 5 PM. After two or three years it wasn't necessary to play the call as we had regulars show up. Good thing because it broke.
John
JJ Ranch
Texas Hill Country
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

EC,

One thing I took note of is this:

"The male checked out the house several times and made quite a fuss over it until... our resident King Bird came to investigate. A scrap ensued resulting in the male Martin being driven off."

I don't know enough about King Birds to advise on what to do but if your martins get run off like that they will most likely not come back and then you are starting all over again and again and again. Is there a way you can deflect the King birds interest to another part of the property so as to not have an interest in the Martin housing? Maybe provide him with his own perch pole from which to ambush insects since he may be using the Martin house as one of his ambush perches and has laid claim to it. You would know better than me. I'm just laying down thoughts as I sit here late reading the forum.

Coolwhips
ECAmartinfan
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:30 pm
Location: Alberta Canada

Thanks for the replies! Coolwhips, I have never noticed the Kingbird sitting on the birdhouse before. He usually hangs out on the other side of the yard. There was a brief but noisy scrap between the Starlings and the Martins in the south side of the yard but the Starlings didn't seem to have their heart in it as they had already fledged and weren't using the house anymore. Maybe the ruckus attracted his attention?

Is it too late in the year for Martins to nest or do they have more than one batch of little ones in the summer?
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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'll defer to the members up north to answer the first question.

It is rare that Martins have more than one brood per year however, some members in Florida have seen a few pairs who had two broods. Some paris who have been displaced from their current housing may try to nest again somewhere else. That somewhere else could be your location.

As for the Starlings. They must be removed. If you search this forum for starlings you'll see very many topics on this. They will kill the martin babies and kill/run off the adults. You'll also want to incorporate the use of starling resistant entrances on your house. (SREH's) This will prevent the starlings from coming into the cavity and keep the martins and babies safe. Starlings and house sparrows are two invasive species in the US that will wreak havoc on native species like the Martins.

Please read up on starling and house sparrow control. Next year, do not let the starlings/sparrows use the house. You can start eliminating them now and into the spring before the martins arrive. You will want to read up on it as much as possible and the more you learn and incorporate the better chance you will have of starting your martin colony.

Coolwhips
John Barrow
Posts: 944
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:12 pm
Location: Corpus Christi / Sandia , Texas

EC,

Great to hear of your family heritage hosting martins and interest in following that path. Alberta is in the far northwest corner of the "Eastern" purple martins' range and there are some great landlords in Alberta. I would suggest you try to contact some of those members to gain their insight on how you can best build a colony. I suggest contacting Bob Buskas, an Alberta landlord who has created housing specific for that area and can be found through his website Northern Sky's Purple Martins. You can find him by searching his name (or Alberta) on this forum or on PMCA's Facebook page which has more activity.

You will need to modify your housing if starlings are nesting in your house. They are inter-specific competitors of purple martins and can, and will, kill martins that try to nest in the same housing. Instead of round hole entrances you can modify housing to offer starling resistant entrance hole, as well as trapping and shooting invasive starlings. There is a lot of information on building a colony on PMCA's main website, and some good information at the top of this forum's page.

We wish you the best in your endeavor. Building a solid colony requires a lot of work and commitment. But hosting a colony is well worth that effort.
~~TEAMED WITH A MARTIN GODDESS~~

Member/Mentor-PMCA. I do regular nestchecks and participate in PROJECT MARTINWATCH!! Coordinated 3 geolocator studies-2009, 2010 & 2013. State and Fed licensed bander (retired Jan., 2020)
ECAmartinfan
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:30 pm
Location: Alberta Canada

Thanks for the replies. It seems the Martin has moved on for now as have the Starlings but I know the Starlings will be back. The Starlings are also one of the first back from migration in the spring so that will be a good time to eliminate them. I will modify the openings for next year also.
The Barn Swallows are on their second batch of little ones now but their doesn't seem to be any conflict between them and the Martins.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1755
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

Hi EC,
I suggest reading all you can in the "Purple Martin Main Website" section on the head tab "Purple Martins" then pull down to "Attracting" section. This info will assist you in getting a martin colony started.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
Curtis Reil
Posts: 119
Joined: Mon Apr 29, 2013 7:51 pm
Location: Alberta/Tofield
Martin Colony History: I inherited this colony when I purchased the property from my Great Uncle. To the best of my knowledge, he had hosted Martins since 1977. Housing consisted of three twelve compartment units that he had built. Small compartments, round holes and no way to lower for managing. There were maybe 6-8 pairs here when we moved in. Through reading up on information provided by the PMCA and that provided to me by Bob Buskas, the decision was made to upgrade the housing. We are now fully switched over to North Star houses and hosted 58 pairs this season(2017). 60 compartments open for business and being so close to 100% occupancy, I believe we may expand housing offered next season. Expansion will continue contingent to high occupancy, being able to keep up on management and or until it starts to feel like work.

Where in Alberta are you located? I’d be willing to help out if you’re not super far away. Bob is a great resource to pull from. His houses are of excellent design. He provided me with some mentoring (truth be told, quite a bit) when I got going with Martins. I’ve paid it forward with helping a few other folks get started. Happy to help if I can.
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