All Gourds In Storage

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Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4232
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

All Gourds In Storage

Postby Steve Kroenke » Wed Nov 06, 2019 7:33 am

Finally all my 300+ plastic gourds are off the racks and in storage. I do a “minimal” cleaning on the gourd insides and prefer to keep the “lived in” look. I believe purple martins may even like that! I usually retain that “dirt scar” on the gourd bottoms/sides and this may help to provide a rustic like surface on the slick plastic to keep my pre-nests of pine straw together. Any mold/mildew growing on the outsides of the gourds will be cleaned off with a water/bleach potion later on when I start pre-nesting with pine straw.

My Trendsetters have been cleaned and one is lowered and another is raised to invite starlings to check in but not check out alive! In our area of northwest Louisiana, starlings often start checking out possible nesting cavities in the fall and early winter. In fact I saw several starlings in their winter plumage including a singing male over at my neighbor Bob’s martin colony the morning of November 5, 2019. I usually begin my “early starling trapping program” around the first of November and catch some prior to the arrival of the martins. The raised Trendsetter has three PMCA Trendsetter traps inside and the other rooms are closed off. I have placed PMCA metal traps in Bob’s three Goliads, raised them, and have the “welcome sign” out for any starlings! We don’t have much of a starling problem and so far I have been able to easily control them via trapping/shooting.

I did have four Trendsetters for the 2019 nesting but have replaced two of them with new 24 gourd Super Systems for the 2020 martin season; there are 48 new Troyer Horizontals with tunnels/porches to hang on the racks. The Trendsetter is my favorite aluminum martin house but I must confess I like gourds the best. I plan to eventually replace my remaining two Trendsetters with gourds in the future.

Here are two photos showing the contrast between my colony with everything there and most everything gone! One photo shows my entire martin colony in late July of 2019. Most the martins have finished nesting. The other photo shows my colony with all the gourds removed and one Trendsetter lowered and the other one raised to catch any starlings. If you look closely at the photos you can see the two Trendsetters which were replaced with the new gourd racks. I still need to add the winches to the poles and net traps.

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PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season

jpp77
Posts: 166
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:21 pm
Location: Lawrence, KS
Martin Colony History: 2015 - 1 pair, not successful (Sparrows)
2016 - 1 pair, 4 young
2017 - 5 pair, 23 young
2018 - 8 pair, 40 young, two deaths most likely due to heat.
2019 - 18 pair, 74 eggs, 1 nest abandoned, all the rest successful.

Re: All Gourds In Storage

Postby jpp77 » Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:02 pm

Very nice! Curious about one thing and I suppose it depends on where you live? Does leaving the racks up during the "off season" cause in problems? Rust, etc..? I have 1 Gemini rack but purchasing a second. The last two years I have taken the whole thing down and stored in my shop. However, I live in Kansas where we have some pretty extreme weather. Just wondering what someone who has been doing this way longer than me thinks? Any tips?

Thank you!

Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4232
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Re: All Gourds In Storage

Postby Steve Kroenke » Thu Nov 07, 2019 6:51 am

I leave my gourd racks outside after the nesting season. I do remove and store my gourds. I just have too many to try to take all those racks down and store them!

If you are using good quality racks made from aluminum and stainless/galvanized steel, these hold up well from what I have observed. I have some gourd racks that have been up well over 10 years and they are doing just fine for the most part. All my Geminis, K24s, and Super Systems are doing fine so far and they are left outside year round.

I do wonder about the impact of leaving out brake winches all year long over many years. Will this eventually damage the braking mechanism and cause failures? So far, I haven’t seen a problem. It may not be a big issue to remove a winch off the pole and store it. Perhaps you could “cover” the winch with some kind of tarp over the winter for protection. I believe there are tarps you can buy for martin houses. Also these winches probably need a little lubrication but you need to be careful around the internal braking section from what I have read. Maybe lubrication in that section reduces the ability of the winch to “hold” and not slip.

I have seen some minor issues with the plastic glide buttons inside the gourd rack hubs becoming brittle and crumbling due to UV damage over the years. It is my understanding that the newer systems have better quality plastic glide buttons that are UV protected. You can get replacement buttons but I believe you have to remove the hub from the pole to install the buttons and that would be a “hassle”!

I have also seen a few nuts/bolts and cable guiding wheels that have shown some rust but nothing that would adversely impact the structure of the racks. These minor items can be replaced if necessary.

I did have several of my galvanized cables on some gourd racks that rusted the first year and I replaced them with stainless steel cables. I believe these were just “bad ones” as I have other galvanized cables that are rust free after being used for over 10 years.

In some locations like living near salt water on the beach, the “salt air” can be corrosive to metals over time I believe. So in such areas, perhaps storing a metal gourd rack would help to prolong the life of the system.

So for the most part, I haven’t had any major issues leaving my various gourd racks outside year round. If it’s feasible to store a gourd rack during the off season, any protection from the weather over time probably would help to preserve the system. But that can be a lot of work, if you have many large gourd racks!

Steve
PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season

jpp77
Posts: 166
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:21 pm
Location: Lawrence, KS
Martin Colony History: 2015 - 1 pair, not successful (Sparrows)
2016 - 1 pair, 4 young
2017 - 5 pair, 23 young
2018 - 8 pair, 40 young, two deaths most likely due to heat.
2019 - 18 pair, 74 eggs, 1 nest abandoned, all the rest successful.

Re: All Gourds In Storage

Postby jpp77 » Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:44 pm

Thanks for the info. I plan on maxing out at two racks with 16 gourds on each, so won't be as big of a deal for me to take them down each year. I could see how your setup would be next to impossible to take all of them down.


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