When To Call It A Year

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Hanover Bill
Posts: 617
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 3:10 pm
Location: Pennsylvania/Hanover Township
Martin Colony History: 2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72

I have been trying to establish a colony in Beaver County, Pa., which is just northwest of Pittsburgh. No luck so far, and I was wondering at what point do I figure that I am not going to attract any Martins this year, and begin focusing on next spring? Also since I haven't attracted any Martins to my site would it be a good idea to try a new house location for next year? One more question, do your chances of attracting Martins to your location improve with each year your house is up or does that have no bearing on it whatsoever? Assistance is always appreciated.

My chances at this point are pretty much nil, but as far north as you are, my guess is you still have some time.
As for working on your site, it would be helpful if you could post a photo or two so that the folks here can see what you are working with, and make suggestions if they see any problems.
Good luck! :)
Posts: 1048
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: Pennsylvania/Espyville/Pymatuning Reservoir Area
Martin Colony History: Taking care of 11 active public colonies and trying to start two more in northwestern PA. Also attempting to restart another one in southwestern PA, in Collier Township's Hilltop Park. In 2017, not sure what happened but the ASY male returned and then a couple of weeks later he was gone. It could have been weather related. No other birds showed up. I had a starling nesting at the Public site that I had trouble getting rid of.
In 2018, we fledged 629 martins at all of the sites.

Hanover Bill, welcome to the forum.

By all means, the season isn't over. There are still some SY birds coming in. I am not sure where in Beaver County you are located, but you could add that to your profile.

I know there is a site outside of McDonald, PA, which may not be too far from you the way the martin flys, but you may be close to Lawrence County, where there are plenty of Amish houses, as well as Butler County, where there are multiple colonies around Lake Arthur.

I live outside of Carnegie toward Settler's Cabin Park, and although I do not have any housing at our residence here, I worked with Nevillewood Golf Course here in the area and made an old Starling Haven martin house into a starling resistant one, much too there dismay.

I am still watching it for martins, but have not been able to watch it as much as I would like.

If you have a wide open area, and good martin housing, you just never know when some birds could spot your set up and stop in for a look.

Let us know what type of housing you have, is it wood, metal or plastic, do you have any gourds, or are you playing a dawn song or daytime chatter CD. All of these things may help to draw in martins, but you just can't tell if they will decide to nest at your place or not. Also, you want to keep the English sparrows and starlings from nesting in your housing, as they will also possibly keep a tentative pair of martins from staying.

Send me an email or a message if you have any questions.

Good luck, and don't give up.


Lots of new SY activity here in the last couple days. The SY's were late this year here.
Doug Martin - PA
Posts: 1936
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:47 am
Location: Pennsylvania/Fombell
Martin Colony History: First pair in 2009 after 28 years of trying. 3 pairs 2010, 17 pairs 2011 and 35-45 pairs since. Many additional colonies are now springing up around mine in an area once completely void of Martins. I offer 50 compartments at my site consisting of primarily Excluder II gourds on Gemini racks. Also a wooden T-14. I utilize electric fence type predator guards on the base of the poles. Supplemental feeding is crucial in maintaining my colony. I platform feed throughout the season as needed. My site tends to be a stop over point for additional birds as they migrate further north.


It is certainly not too late for this year. As a matter of fact your chances are just beginning. I have seen a few sub adults but not the usual numbers yet. They certainly are not interested in nesting yet.

I am in the upper Northeast corner of Beaver County. The Martins I am seeing have been traveling to the southwest at times when they come and go. So I think there is a link between a colony or two in Southeast Ohio and the vast numbers in the Morraine State Park area.

You must pull a few from the sky with dawnsong to stand a chance. That is what I have been doing thoughout the life of about 3 or 4 CD players. I now have my 1st nesting pair. I am hoping for another subbie pair or two to insure a colony start. I have been at it for 28 years.

When to call it a year? 4th of July in these parts.

Doug from Fombell PA
Supplemental feeding plays a major role in western Pennsylvania. Finally got my 1st pair in 2009 after 28 years of effort. 3 pairs in 2010. 17 pairs in 2011. 35 pairs and 150 young in 2012 & 2013. Plus a new 22 pair colony right down the road from me.
Joe Zorn

Hanover Bill,
You probably have not given enough info for anyone to give you good answers to some of your questions.

How long have you been trying in that spot? What type of housing? What type of entrances, etc.

As for you question about moving the pole to a different location.... I have a homemade wooden house that has been absolutely ignored for the past three seasons. It's been modified in every way possible. The Martins just were not as interested in it as the sparrows and starlings. In fact, they'd fly in, look, and leave...never to return. Beautiful house. everythng done right. Three other poles doing just fine, but this one ignored.

Four things happened during the offseas.

1.Hurricane Gustav rearranged the landscape a good bit. Trees are still there, but not nearly as big or as full as before. Other neighbors lost several trees in the not so near vicinity, but it did make for a better flyway to and from the house.

2. I painted the house solid white. In previous years, it was white with purple and gold trim (LSU colors). Maybe I was getting a lot of TULANE or Ole' MIss PM fans, but they absolute did not like the house.

3. I removed half (12) of the crescent entrances ,and switched to round. The other half (12) remained crescent.

4. I also switched from 6 x 12 to 6 x 6 room size.

This year the house has 6 nests with babies. Two of the four gourds that hang under it have 5 babies each. All six nests in the wooden house are in the round hole, small room section. The gourds have clingers.

I had vowed that if the house still remain ignored this year, it was coming down. It was my favorite. Built of cypress with dowel pins and Titebond III glue, not a single nail or brad.

All that to say....it may not be just the location, although it could be. But moving it might be a bad idea, if you can't think of any other improvements that might help.

I used to have a boss whose favorite expression was, "Do Something! Even if it's wrong!" I had been doing nothing for too long, I think.
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