Ontario, Canada Martin Help Please

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I live in Ontario, Canada and over the past 3 years have opened 2 Martin houses with some success. Scouts have come over the last 3 years on April 12th, 10th and 14th. Last year I had 3 pair in one house and 2 in the other. I have 3 questions hoping to get some help with:

1. When should I raise and open my 2 Martin houses? I have read that I should raise and open one enterance when I see a scout but wait on opening the rest until 4 weeks later as to minimize sparrows. Is this correct? My neighbour beside me has 2 houses with established colonies.

2. My one Martin House was plastic and eventually broke. I have replaced it this year in the exact same place with the same pole with a Trio that looks similair to the old plastic one. Will this affect the 3 pairs of Martin's that occupied it last year?

3. Where is best to place a decoy plastic Martin? on the house perch or the house railing?

Thanks in advance and wishing everyone a great season.
John Miller
Posts: 4779
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Welcome to the Forum. Looking back at some of my posts, not sure I speak English...will try to speak Canadian.

There are no hard and fast rules as when to open; only guidelines. Sounds like you've been given good advice. I'd expect you will get nesting martins once your neighbor's site fills. Martins tend to fill an established site first, then move over to nearby ones -- you.

The decoy placement probably is not critical. The housing change isn't significant -- good though it's in the same spot.

Since you are in a colder climate, I'd consider insulating the aluminum house. You can glue something like 6 x 6 panels of cork or styrofoam on the interior walls, and even the inside of the doors. Lay a piece of cork over the top of the aluminum subfloor too.

Good luck to you...it feels like Ontario in St. Louis today -- snow flurries and a few martins here. I have some of my housing insulated, and thinking that I'll insulate more for next year.

John M
Posts: 3165
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

When to open the house is a chess game sometimes at a new site. If you are not there to keep the competitors out you should keep it closed up until martins show up in your area. The problem is that at a new site you don't want to have the housing closed up too long after the martins arrive. They will stick around for a little bit but they won't stay long if the site is closed. Changing housing in the off season shouldn't be a problem.
I have my decoys on a perching pole about 10 feet away from my housing. I feel in the open the decoy is more likely to be spotted by a hawk and hawks will sometimes go after the decoys, giving martins time to escape.
2021 Currently 62 nest 138 babies plus 110 eggs (6-317-21) HOSP count-9
2020 42 nest, Fledged 164 HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional lone SY's
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 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair 14 fledged.
Mary Wilson-SW Ont
Posts: 218
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 6:24 pm
Location: Leamington Ontario

Hi Matthew. Whereabouts in Ontario are you located ? I am from Essex County .... SW Ontario, close to Windsor. Have you checked the scout report in the last several years to see when anyone close to your location has posted scout arrivals? This may be helpful. We have an active purple martin club which would be happy to give you some advice - give us a little info as to your location, or contact us at the website shown below. I don't think replacing a plastic house with a Trio in the same location will bother the birds at all - I wouldn't worry. If your birds from last year have survived the migration, and if they bred young successfully last year, they will return.
www.ontariopurplemartins.ca ..... the website of the Ontario Purple Martin Association, in SW Ontario, Can
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