New Landlord By Mistake

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
Post Reply
DuckCamp
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed May 27, 2020 10:03 pm
Location: Indiana
Martin Colony History: 2020 - 1 ASY pair, 3 nestlings

I have 4 S&K gourds on 15ft aluminum pole I put up 5 years ago (hoping for tree swallows or great crested flycatcher). After losing nests of bluebirds, pileated and red headed woodpeckers and tree swallows to starlings and house sparrows this spring, I got serious about making our property inhospitable/deadly to these pests. We live on 16 acres of primarily wooded property, with a clearing of about 2 acres around the house. NE Indiana.

A male (ASY) purple martin arrived yesterday, and is accompanied by two females as of this evening. I've researched quite a bit on this forum in the past 24 hours and have a few newbie questions. I've learned that my "gourds" are not what most would recommend. Bo Basic from S&K. Anything I can do at this point to improve these birds' chances? Drill drainage holes? Add vents? Or too late for this? Other recommendations for this year?

I've always assumed we had less than ideal martin habitat (our property is wooded, but with agriculture fields surrounding) so have never seriously considered trying to attract a colony. Any recommendations for next year? How would I best go about trying to bring these birds, and hopefully others, back? Houses, modifications to what I currently have, recommended set-up, etc.

Thanks for any info, and for all of the great info on this site!
2020 - 1 pair (ASY), 3 nestlings
Chris B
Posts: 378
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2014 4:10 pm
Location: AL/Toney

I have read that you need more than 4 gourds to start with. If you have room to hang them, try adding some Big BoV2 from S&K, with porches.

Pre nest with pine straw (with a tad of sevin), and good luck.
2014 8 gourds, 3 pairs nested. Ended w/ 24 total
2015 24 gourds, 22 nests. Lotsa birds!
2016 24 gourds and good activity.
2017 32 SREH gourds. Great activity.
2018 40 SREH gourds. Good finish despite big storm damage. No more dangling gourds.
2019 56+ SREH gourds, all on 3/8 rods. Birds did very well.
2020 56 SREH gourds.
deancamp
Posts: 412
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

First, I would say you are the luckiest person on this forum. :) I'm not familiar with th gourds you have, but someone else on here probably is. I would think drain holes for any nest would be good for eggs and hatchlings. Something like that wouldn't be too hard to alter during the day while they are out feeding. If you can add a picture of your setup it would be helpful in giving recommendations. If you can get them to nest successfully this year they will return next year if they survive their journey to South America and back. I would make a strong effort for this year while you have birds showing interest. Are they spending the night?
Black Jack
Posts: 80
Joined: Mon May 06, 2019 4:37 pm
Location: NC

More gourds hanging the better. I tried the BO gourds for 2 yrs w/porches. Never had any takers. Would land on porches and GAWK! Grew me some gourds m/self and this year i am run over with Martins. Try growing your own and read up on how to preserve them to not rot. Search the web for info.
DuckCamp
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed May 27, 2020 10:03 pm
Location: Indiana
Martin Colony History: 2020 - 1 ASY pair, 3 nestlings

Attached are photos I took last night (I know they aren't the best images) of my set-up at home. The birds have spent the night the past two nights. The male on Weds night, and a male and two females last night. They have gone into all 4 gourds many times, but the 2 females seem to have decided on 2 of the four as of last evening.

I will lower and drill drainage holes. I will also look into the additional gourds that have been recommended. My question would be, will altering/adding to the current arrangement at this point effect the birds? Would they see additional housing or changes as a deterrent? In other words, should I do this now or hope these birds stay and nest successfully, and make the changes/upgrades for next season?

Thanks again. After so much "bad luck" this spring at the hands of starlings and sparrows, it's nice to hear that perhaps my luck has changed with these accidental martins!
Attachments
PM4.PNG
PM4.PNG (215.71 KiB) Viewed 357 times
PM3.PNG
PM3.PNG (280.31 KiB) Viewed 357 times
PM2.PNG
PM2.PNG (150.39 KiB) Viewed 357 times
PM1.PNG
PM1.PNG (325.03 KiB) Viewed 357 times
2020 - 1 pair (ASY), 3 nestlings
deancamp
Posts: 412
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

Duckcamp that sounds promising that they will stay if they're spending the night. These are my thoughts, adding to would not affect them. I don't think I would change the configuration of what they have been checking out and spending the night in. Maybe someone who has had direct experience with that will chime in. Maybe add a few to what you have and then make your ultimate change in the off season. My 2 cents.
DuckCamp
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed May 27, 2020 10:03 pm
Location: Indiana
Martin Colony History: 2020 - 1 ASY pair, 3 nestlings

Thank you for the suggestions. Regarding adding to without changing my configuration, I am so new to this I don't even know what options I would have. I have room to add 2 gourds to my current setup. Or maybe another pole with a house/additional gourds?

Update: The pair seem interested in one of the 4 gourds in particular. Male was seen bringing in what looked to be nesting material a fewminutes ago. As suggested I lowered the gourds while they were away. Cleaned out an old sparrow nest, then added pine needles and sevin to the 3 they have not been visiting as much. The 4th gourd had bits of dried leaves that I believe the martins brought in.

Thanks again!
2020 - 1 pair (ASY), 3 nestlings
deancamp
Posts: 412
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

That's great, if you added a couple gourds to your current setup, that would be plenty for this year and would give you the off season to figure it out. Keep after the sparrows as they need to be eliminated, not just removing the nest. Keep us posted.
DuckCamp
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed May 27, 2020 10:03 pm
Location: Indiana
Martin Colony History: 2020 - 1 ASY pair, 3 nestlings

Will do. Thanks again for the advice!
2020 - 1 pair (ASY), 3 nestlings
Kegger
Posts: 110
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:58 am
Location: Awesome Florida
Martin Colony History: Newbie in 2020: 2 pair of SY with 4 eggs each in Troyer Horizontals
fledged a total of 7 Martins

Duckcamp:

I have added a good handful of pine straw to a Troyer Horizontal 2 weeks after
a couple did not start building a nest and it got them to start adding leaves
quickly there after. They were SY. I did prenest but some was removed prior
to the couple moving in. 8)
Post Reply