Newbie from Bastrop Texas

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Hello group..
Just signed on, and been reading and learning..I just placed an order for a new Martin house system. It's gonna have the pole with a lowering system and twelve large gourds. The guy is from Austin and he specializes in Martin houses. I am hoping to be able to attract a new colony out to where we are. We are out in the country between Bastrop and Austin and have lots of other small wild birds. I am only concerned about the tree clearance. We are in the post oak savannah area which has a lot of oak, cedar and such but we have a fairly large clearing behind the house where they cleared for our septic spray field. Luckily most of the trees are probably in the 20' range. I don't think I have 40' in every direction from the center of the clearing, probably 25-30' though.
I see there are other folks near me, like Lockhart and such so hopefully someone can give me some pointers of what I should do, when I should hang out the gourds and such. I am going to get a book that this man sells which is supposed to be one of the best for beginners and is by Stokes..
I saw the postings and pictures of the Martins at Highland mall..That is amazing..I used to live near there and thought only Grackles hung out there!!!!
Anyway Just wanted to say hi and going to go back to reading..
THanks so much!!!

John in Bastrop
Emil Pampell-Tx
Posts: 6743
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 1:26 pm
Location: Tx, Richmond (SW of Houston)
Martin Colony History: First started in Gretna, La in 1969 with a small homemade house, have had martins ever since at 2 different homes in Texas

Welcome, John from Bastrop. When I was in high school, we used to go to Bastrop because there was a swimming pool there, enjoyed the pool.

The best time for you to put up the gourd rack would be Feb 1, as that will probably be when the very first martins arrive. In all probablity, you may not need to put it up until about Mar 1, as you probably will not see any martins before that time. The first martins always go to well established sites. If you wait until Mar 1, you will not be bothered as much with the sparrows & starlings, and you should try to control them by trapping or shooting.

Your open space sounds very small to me, but you may be able to attract some martins anyway, as there are tons of martins in that area. If you cannot attract them, and if you do want them badly, you probably will need to cut down some of the nearby trees.

Best of luck to you. Feel free to ask questions anytime.
PMCA Member, 250 gourds, 6 poles, 2traps
apundt-TX
Posts: 983
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2004 7:34 pm
Location: Dripping Springs, Texas
Martin Colony History: :
Starting over in 2018
9 pair 2017
17 pair 2015
12 pair 2014
8 pair 2013
5 pair 2012
2 pair 2011

Greeting fellow central Texan.

You have received great advise from Emil. The tree closeness may bring you problems. I have tried for 3 years now with trees at 30 feet and just had lookers but no takers.

I know Bastrop quite well. I was the Aquatics Director for the Boy Scout Camp out there for a few years.

A.P.
Guest

Thanks so much for the tips!
I figure I am gonna have to get out the chainsaw! I am hoping the guy in which we are buying the house from will give us some direction as to location and trees. Do those decoys and the dawn voice recordings help? Being we are in a new development, there are no established martin houses nearby so gonna have to do what I can to coax them over and to stay..Going to have to make the space out back work as I doubt the subdivision will let us put a martin house out front...But will do everything I can to get them there and make them happy...

Thanks so much!!!

John
Laverne
Posts: 2216
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 1:58 pm
Location: TX/Alvin
Martin Colony History: Erected 1st house in 1997. Birds were checking it out before Mike got down from the ladder. Six cavities had a little colony 1st year. Grown to 88 cavities all gourds with near 100% occupancy. Most important factor for success is rain = bugs.

Hi John.

Welcome to the PMCA website and Forum.

Yes, the Dawnsong and Daytime Chatter CDs work like Purple Martin magnets. The decoys provide the illusion of resident PMs. I have seen several photos of a real PM sitting on top of a decoy. These tools will bring them in for a look - but, are no guarantee they will stay.

Because you are in an area of heavy trees, all you can do is wait and see if the PMs will accept your location. They may fear ambush from the nearby trees. Only time will tell...

Best wishes for success in attracting nesting Purple Martins.
Sincerely,
Laverne
Guest

Hello Laverne,
Yeah I figure my clearing will need some work..I have a large cluster of oak/cedar which is not very tall so might just take that out to clear out the area more..I looked closer last night and it looks like I have somewhere between 25-30 feet from center to the trees as it is now. Figure I am going to have to make some more room and those cedars and wierd low growing oaks can be gotten rid of..Anything to get Martins out there..I hear there are a lot of them in my area, if I can get some to stay I bet they will love it. We have a small lake about a block away where they can drink and tons of flying bugs to feed them with..
I just want to have my part in giving them a place to be.

Thanks so much!!!!

John
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

Hi John,
Welcome to the forum. You have made a wise choice in picking out the gourd system. Sometimes the martins will go to gourds when they won't go to regular housing.
I live just north of Austin and we have a lot of martins here too. I didn't get any my first year, but had a lot of interest. We did get a pair our second year and I think would have had more except we had a very aggressive male keeping all the others away. BTW, we are close to an oak tree - only about 15-20 feet away. However, we do have an open flyway about 3/4 of the way around.
Did you work with someone in Austin from one of the "bird" stores or a private individual? I'd be interested in knowing who. You can send me a personal message if you'd like.
Glad to have you on the forum. You have already discovered there is a wealth of knowledge here. I don't know what I would have done without all the great expertise I've received from long-time landlords, especially those in our area.
Sharon
apundt-TX
Posts: 983
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2004 7:34 pm
Location: Dripping Springs, Texas
Martin Colony History: :
Starting over in 2018
9 pair 2017
17 pair 2015
12 pair 2014
8 pair 2013
5 pair 2012
2 pair 2011

Don't measure from the center of the tree. You need to measure from the end of the branch and go about 40 ft to the pole. The is a lady in Red Rock near you. Her name is Renee Gortz. She has had really good luck in getting martins.

I have attracted many martins with dawnsong. I do not know if the decoys work or not yet. We are having a family debate about this this past spring.
Because of my tree situation they do not stay and nest just look around.


A.P.
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