Gourd Racks And Houses Lowered And It’s Cleaning Time

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Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4221
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Gourd Racks And Houses Lowered And It’s Cleaning Time

Postby Steve Kroenke » Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:17 am

Gourd Racks And Houses Lowered And It’s Cleaning Time

I finally lowered all my gourd racks and houses and just started some cleaning! I removed the doors and nest trays from my two Trendsetter houses but still need to clean out the rooms. Just started cleaning some of the gourds but haven’t taken them off the racks yet. After cleaning the gourds, my plan is to place them in a new utility building which I haven’t bought yet!

When I clean my plastic gourds, I usually don’t wash out the insides but will clean off mold/mildew and martin poop from the outsides. A bleach and water potion does a good job. I generally dump out the old nests but leave any dirt scar on the bottom and sides of the gourds. Why leave the scar? I believe martins like that lived in look and they readily nest in cavities with old nests in them. Plus the dirt scar helps create a rustic surface on the slick plastic and this may help to keep nesting material from sliding around too much. Before I raise my housing for the next martin season, I always pre-nest my gourds and houses with a substantial nest of pine straw and sometimes even add a handful of dry oak leaves to the nest bowl. My pre-nests blend nicely with any dirt scar.

I do wash out the rooms on my Trendsetters with a hose as the dirt can clog up the tracks where the doors slide in and out. Too much accumulated dirt in the rooms may interfere with the ease of inserting and removing the nest trays. Plus the Trendsetter porches and roofs do become covered with martin poop which may require washing to remove. I dump out the nest trays but don’t scrub them clean. My nest trays are painted dark brown.

I will treat my houses and gourds with Sevin to kill any parasites that may overwinter. Before I raise the housing in January I add a small amount of Sevin (1/4 to ½ teaspoon) to the nesting material to help control any parasites that the martins bring with them. Later in the season I may re-treat with Sevin if I find parasites such as mites in the gourds/houses during nest checks.

My martin colony did well in 2019 and I attracted between 340 and 350 pairs of martins. I believe 1200+ martins fledged. My next door neighbor Bob attracted between 150 and 200 pairs of martins and fledged well over 500 youngsters. So we hosted 500+ pairs of martins and probably fledged close to 2000 babies.

I replaced two of my 12 room Trendsetters with two new 24 gourd Super Systems; there are two Trendsetters remaining, a 12 room house and a 16 room house. I took the Trendsetters down and gifted them to a good friend who has a thriving martin colony. Both Super Systems are on the old ground stakes for the Trendsetters, but I still need to install the winches on both poles. Forty-eight new Troyer Horizontal gourds with tunnels/porches will be on both racks next year. I still like the Trendsetters a lot and they are my favorite house, but I prefer gourd racks. My gourds are usually better occupied than houses as gourds provide more territorial privacy between pairs and tend to minimize nest domination behavior. I will eventually replace the remaining two Trendsetters with gourd racks but will keep the houses for the 2020 season.

Here are some photos of my martin colony with the gourd racks and houses lowered. If you look closely, you may be able to see the two new 24 gourd Super Systems that replaced the Trendsetter houses. I still need to add winches to the poles and eventually the gourds. For some reason the photos when linked from Photobucket don’t link in full size to the Forum. In the past I believe they did! I don’t know if this is a Photobucket or Forum issue or maybe me!

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PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season

Rodger Drye
Posts: 566
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:07 am
Location: NC/Mt. Pleasant
Martin Colony History: Have been hosting and providing a sanactuary for Purple Martins for 30 years.

Re: Gourd Racks And Houses Lowered And It’s Cleaning Time

Postby Rodger Drye » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:16 pm

Looking good Steve. My grandson came and helped me 2 or 3 weeks ago to take my gourds down wash them out and dip in a 9 to 1 Bleach solution. He was a lot of help and it still took us 2 complete days to accomplish the task at hand. When the gourds have all been cleaned and dried I place them in a 3’ x3’ x 8’ box (that I built) which fits on the forks of my tractor. Then I transport them to my metal workshop / building. Quicker than running back and forth with the UTV. I’m like you and do not scrub the insides. Just wash out all old nesting material and do the bleach dip. Each gourd is stored with pre nest pine needles and a tea spoon of sevin for next year.
I had 90 pair of Martins and still fledged over 400 birds.
I have finally completed a new rack (the Nitro - D) that I designed. It will hold up to 54 gourds on 3 tiers, but I’ll only place 36 gourds on 2 tiers and add my first T-14 for next year. That will give me 174 cavities total and I will not add any more. It’s quite a job taking care of this many birds with nest checks and all. With all the birds you have I know you have your hands full. I also had 200 x 2 individual Exterior Aluminum Gourd Numbers made up that I mounted on each of my front gourds and on each of the individual Doors with SS Bolts & Lock Nuts. They really look Awesome. Just got tired of marking them with Black Markers and having the numbers fade out each year. It took some time to get this done but in the end I think well worth it.
Respectfully,

Rodger Drye
PMCA Member
Have been Hosting and Protecting Martin's for 28 years.

Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4221
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Re: Gourd Racks And Houses Lowered And It’s Cleaning Time

Postby Steve Kroenke » Fri Oct 11, 2019 6:15 pm

Rodger,

I know you are glad to have someone help with cleaning your gourds! I have started cleaning out the gourds and have done several racks. I still need to wash off the outsides. Still haven't bought that new utility building yet! There is a business down the road and across the river in Texas that sells buildings and that is where I will eventually buy my new one.

Looks like you have a good system in place to take care of your gourds after the season! The bleach along with the Sevin should do a good job of eliminating any parasites that may be "thinking about" overwintering in your gourds! Of course, martins may bring some parasites with them and a little Sevin can help control pests such as mites.

You had a great martin season with 90 pairs and fledging over 400 youngsters! And with your expansion you will fledge even more martins to help increase the population. One year I had a bunch of my nestlings banded and survivors did spread out and one of my banded youngsters returned the next year and traveled about 100 miles north of my martin colony to another colony in Texas.

Is your new rack, the Nitro-D, a ring or crossbar type system or something else? My favorite gourd rack is the Gemini with two rings. I have four of them and each holds 24 gourds. They are usually 100% occupied by martins each season.

Your Gourd Numbering system sounds creative and functional! With that system, no more fading marker numbers.

I am glad you had a great martin season and thanks for sharing information about your colony.

Steve
PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season

Rodger Drye
Posts: 566
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:07 am
Location: NC/Mt. Pleasant
Martin Colony History: Have been hosting and providing a sanactuary for Purple Martins for 30 years.

Re: Gourd Racks And Houses Lowered And It’s Cleaning Time

Postby Rodger Drye » Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:35 pm

Hey Steve,

So sorry I haven’t gotten back to you before now. Have been so busy. We have 13 grandchildren and they are always wanting us to come watch them play their individual sports. Needless to say we stay on the go. I’m sure you will like it when you get your new building to winter your Gourds in. Was surprised to hear that the PMCA does not recommend or endorse the use of sevin around Martins. My Dad used Sevin and Sulfur for years and he really had a lot of Birds each year.
Steve, do you also band Martins.? I don’t use Sulfur but I do use Sevin dust and the liquid. It bothers me to see those little chicks being eaten alive from those mites, and there again I don’t place or spray it directly on them, but dust the inside of the Gourd and spray the outside.

My new rack is sort of a mixture of both. The inside rings are Aluminum welded tubing 1” x 1” with a round rod that can be inserted and extended 2’ out. A picture is worth a thousand words and if I ever learn how to take and post pictures you’ll see that it’s really a simple design. If I had to do over again I’d use 1” x 1” Aluminum Angle which would be easier to break down, thus assisting in the marketing process. I want to produce a rack that has little or no welding and one that can be marketed easily and profitably. Like they say back to the drawing board. I want to see how this rack is functional before I make any more changes. There will probably be several. Things like this as you can imagine take time and money.

I have 1 Gemini Rack which attracts a 100% occupancy, using Troyer Horizontal Gourds. My birds really like those Horizontal Gourds. Most of my other Gourds are BO-11 with Ultimate Tunnels. That gives the birds 14” nesting area and a 3 “ horizontal tunnel. My birds really like these Gourds too, and it gives them plenty of room.

Wow, you and your neighbor had a Super Year fledging 2000 babies. That’s a lot of Birds.

I use the 5/8” Hex Drive Winches on all my Poles and Racks. If you or your neighbor ever need any Winch Handles just let me know and you can have all that I have.

Sincerely,
Rodger
PMCA Member
Have been Hosting and Protecting Martin's for 28 years.


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