Ferocious Battle Between Female Martin And House Finches

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Posts: 1130
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:14 pm
Location: Texas/Texarkana

Steve I have the housefinches nesting in some of my Super gourds. Every time the martins come in from feeding the HF's show up and try to defend the gourd rack .

I've seen the martins try to run them off. I've thought to myself if they try to start a problem I might have to try and run them off.

I'm glad you reposted this older article.

Most of the older martins in my colony still love the houses ....all of them are roosting in the trio houses except for one male. He is roosting in a Bo 11 gourd under 2 trio houses on my MPP.

As of yesterday I counted 9 martins at my site.
2015 (110 nesting pair)
2014 (92 nesting pair)
2013 (75 nesting pair)
2012 (35 nesting pair)
2011 (20 pair)
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Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4342
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Hey Malcom,

I had house finches for two years at my old Tallahassee, Florida colony and the martins were dominate over the finches when any behaviroral interactions occurred. The most house finch pairs I had were two I believe and these finches never really caused any issues for the martins; it was the other way around!

If martins had nested in many of your Super Gourds last season, then these martins would most likely take back their cavities when the martins return or at least move into the gourd racks. I doubt any small house finch would be able to deter strong ASY male martins from re-claiming their territory after flying thousands of miles to get home! I have seen returning male martins beat house sparrows to ground and inside gourds/house compartments numerous times at my boyhood martin colony!

If more martins show an interest in the Super Gourds and start bonding to them, then the martins should be able to move into those cavities.

Of course, every situation is different, and perhaps your house finches are more aggressive in defending their cavities than the ones I saw in Tallahassee. You could continue to monitor the situation and see if any martins start entering and claiming any Super Gourds in those racks where the house finches are located.

I am glad your martins are adapting to the change in location! I know in the past your martins have always preferred houses but maybe this year the martins will move into the gourds in larger numbers.

PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season
Posts: 130
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:27 pm
Location: Holt, Florida

I currently have a pair of HF that have built a nest in one of my s&k barn. I removed the nest and plugged the entrance, not an hour later they were going in one of the compartments.
2010/2011: 0 / 2012: 8 Pair / 2013: 22 Pair / 2014: 35 Pair / 2015: 39 Pair / 2016: 73 Pair / 2017: 94 Pair
Dan G
Posts: 403
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:52 pm
Location: PA/Bellefonte
Martin Colony History: Trying since 2014. Visitors, but no nests. Several colonies with in 6 mile radius.
2020- An SY male built a nest but could not attract a mate.

I have two pairs of house finches that keep going in an out of gourds and the T-14. I lowered the house this morning and there is no sign of nest building, but i searched and found this post. Thanks Steve. Its a little early here to put some hanging baskets out, and we do have a porch so hopefully i can get them interested there and not the martin housing. Last year there was only one pair around and they did not nest in the martin housing so i was not too concerned. The males are cute with there red heads, but I want a martin colony to grow, not house finches. :grin:
Bellefonte PA
2014, 1st year-a few lookers, no nests
2015, 'Spot' SY male, here every day from 5-28 to 6-23
2016 added a perch wire between house and gourd rack
offering 22 cavities, T-14 plus 8 gourds
2016, multiple visitors from 6-20 on. Almost daily
2017- Lots of visitors late in season.
2018- Adding another T-14. Few visitors
2019- Hopeful but stopped holding my breath
2020-SY male built a nest.
Posts: 2134
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

I have House Finches nesting in hanging plants every year. They used to nest over my back door, but the HS chased them away & took their nest. We have since closed in that area, so no birds can nest over the door. We had also put up a few boxes for them, but again the HS chased the Finches out & took their nests, so we took the boxes down. Sadly we don't have near the House Finches we used to. I love to listen to the males sing. To date no House Finch has ever tried to enter my Martin Houses. The House Finches usually arrive early March & then they pair up & wait & wait for me to put up hanging plants. That is usually in early May, right around Mother's Day, which is when most of the stores start selling hanging plants here. Usually within an hour of hanging plants they start checking them out & choose one to build a nest in. By the next day the nest is half built. Eggs come soon after & then the little chicks. In a few weeks they are gone. Life goes on.

Toy in PA
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stan davison
Posts: 715
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2005 7:48 pm
Location: Tulsa Oklahoma

Steve, a couple year ago I had a female Martin kill a female house finch. The two were fighting in the Martin house and the finch fell out of the house to the ground she was unable to fly.
John Miller
Posts: 4774
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

will add my two cents. House finches have become very numerous around St. Louis, and I enjoy them, but I'd not let them build in martin housing. I've observed a problem. When the finches learn that the martins are bringing in insects to feed their young, they will sometimes chase the adult martins endless in the air around the housing, trying to make the martin drop the insect and preventing or at least delaying it from landing on the housing and feeding young. whew...always something.
Posts: 523
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 7:35 am
Location: Kansas, Lawrence
Martin Colony History: 1 gourd rack with 24 gourd capacity. 2018, my 11th year hosting martins.
18 pair in 2017.

It's late March and I have martins. I also have a pair of House Finches trying to nest. The martins are a month away from nest building. I'm not sure I want House Finches in the gourds. What do you think?
PMCA Member, Single Gourd Rack, 2019 marks 12 years hosting martins.
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:04 pm
Location: South Dakota
Martin Colony History: 2018 23 Successful Pairs

Mixture of real and Plastic Gourds


Last summer I had 1 natural gourd in my colony that fledged 3 finches on may 13 then a sy pair set up camp and managed to fledge
4 all in the same gourd.Their was no aggressive behavior all summer between the house finches and martins.

I know it sounds unusual but this is what we witnessed last year.

I'd give them a shot at it.....

Posts: 523
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 7:35 am
Location: Kansas, Lawrence
Martin Colony History: 1 gourd rack with 24 gourd capacity. 2018, my 11th year hosting martins.
18 pair in 2017.

Thanks for your thoughts, CapanJack. I have a pair of Finches that have nested in my artificial Barn Swallow nest cup. They have eggs and it's going to be in the teens tonight.

A second pair of HF's have been nest building in one of my gourds. Both, Martins and Finches, seem to ignore each other but neither has young yet. It's so cold right now that neither are hanging around.
PMCA Member, Single Gourd Rack, 2019 marks 12 years hosting martins.
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