New SY Males in central PA

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ToyinPA
Posts: 2149
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

We had 2 new SY Males arrive today. I had 2 other SY Males that visited last week or so, but they moved on north.

I lost my ASY Alpha male this week. Sampson has been missing for 4 days now. He built a nest, but had not mate yet. He was last seen joining in with Grackles to chase off a hawk that was in the neighborhood.

I currently have 7 pair & 14 eggs laid as of yesterday. 7 ASY Males, 2 ASY Females & 5 SY Females. Many of the SY females nests are packed & a bit damp, as they had to build in the rain. Some used mud.

Today is the only day this week we haven't had any rain. Knock on wood. More rain/T-storms Saturday & Sunday & then we may catch a break early week. Temps are to be below normal next week. 3 inch hail & tornadoes hit east, northeast of us on Tuesday. Sure has been crazy weather.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
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

Hi Toy;

I think we can add a third certainty in life; death, taxes, and crazy weather. LOL. Sorry to hear about your Alpha male, hopefully he will find his way back to the colony.

Things are going well over here, weather hasn't been too much of a factor, except for too much rain. I am due for a nest check tomorrow, so we'll see what has been going on.

Hanover Bill.
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
gotham
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:36 am
Location: Wellington, On, Canada (our summer place)
Martin Colony History: -Wife's family martin house shore Lake Ontario since 1967.
-2017 martin house taken over by starlings.
-2018 did research and purchased new martin house -Lonestar Alamo aluminum 14 compartment with perching rods and nest trays.
-2019 opened new martin house but frustrating season long battle with wily HOSPs (see posts) and martin visitors but no settlers.
-2020 Covid-19-honored request of locals that seasonal home owners stay away and only reached summer home too late to attempt to start colony. Aiming with determination and hope for next year.

Hello Toy,

I am sorry, too, to hear about your alpha male.

Glad, however, to hear that you have noted the very recent arrival of a couple of subadults in central Pennsylvania, as this gives me some hope that perhaps I still have a chance of attracting some late arrivals up here in Canada, on the north shore of Lake Ontario (see my account of my frustrating and disappointing season so far on "Chicadee" Interference).

Good luck on your colony this year-you are doing much better than I,

Gotham
ToyinPA
Posts: 2149
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

Hanover Bill wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:46 am
Hi Toy;

I think we can add a third certainty in life; death, taxes, and crazy weather. LOL. Sorry to hear about your Alpha male, hopefully he will find his way back to the colony.

Things are going well over here, weather hasn't been too much of a factor, except for too much rain. I am due for a nest check tomorrow, so we'll see what has been going on.

Hanover Bill.
Hi Bill:

Good to hear your colony is doing well.

Nest check today added 4 more eggs. I know the one SY Male was here today. Not sure if the 2nd one was here or not. Hard to spot them with total cloud cover. Had to lower the houses tonight due to a storm. Had high gusting winds & rain for a bit. Have rain tomorrow again, so when we get a sunny day I hope I will spot both SY Males & with any luck a few new females too.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
ToyinPA
Posts: 2149
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

gotham wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:12 pm
Hello Toy,

I am sorry, too, to hear about your alpha male.

Glad, however, to hear that you have noted the very recent arrival of a couple of subadults in central Pennsylvania, as this gives me some hope that perhaps I still have a chance of attracting some late arrivals up here in Canada, on the north shore of Lake Ontario (see my account of my frustrating and disappointing season so far on "Chicadee" Interference).

Good luck on your colony this year-you are doing much better than I,

Gotham
Hi Gotham:

Looks like you are almost straight north of me. I read thru your thread. I often have martins stop over on their way north. There are none recorded between me & the NY boarder. Hopefully you will get a colony started soon. A few suggestions.....

The martins should be able to get it the SREH. If there is no rough surface below the entrance holes I would get some adhesive back anti-slip grit tape. It comes in rolls, sheets, different brands & sizes. Black color would be best. My houses came with it on. The size on my houses is 3 inches wide x 2 inches high. Cut it to whatever size will fit your balcony, but it doesn't need to cover the whole balcony, just enough to give them a little footing. Place it right below the entrances. That may help them get in easier.

If you haven't pre-nested the cavities try adding some dried white pine needles, dried leaves or straw. Whatever you can get right now. Just put a nice big hand full in the trays. Then smear a little mud around the entrance hole & just inside the entrance floor. That makes the cavity look used. They like the used look, which tells them it's a good place to nest.

European Starlings & House Sparrows are an invasive species that destroy song bird eggs, kill song birds & their chicks. Martins have a soft beak, so they have little to no defense against them. I have had issues with stubborn HS. Can't shoot them in town, they avoid the traps. A mouse trap will not work & you can end up trapping a martin. I saw you ordered a trap from the PMCA. Let the HS build a nest. Then remove some of the nest & place it in the trap. What ever trap you end up using in your house the house entrance needs to be made small enough a martin can not get into the cavity. You could use cardboard, or a piece of 1/8 inch thick Lauan plywood board, etc.. Cut a hole too small for a martin to get in & then attach it to the house by either taping it in place with strong tape or screwing it in place. The HS will fly off & sit nearby & watch you. They will not return if they see you, so move to a location where you can see the house, but they can't see you. Sit in your car if need be. Once they return & go in you have them trapped. It may take several minutes to an hour. An easy, not so traumatic, way to dispose of them is to use engine starter fluid. Rig up a small bucket (ice cream size should work). Cut a flap in the lid big enough to stick the HS in. Punch a hole big enough to spray the starter fluid in. Keep in mind they are strong & fast. Place the HS in the bucket, tape the flap shut & spray the starter fluid in. He will pass away.

I would not keep lowering & closing up the house. You need to let the martins find your house & move in. Deal with HS as the need arises.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
gotham
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:36 am
Location: Wellington, On, Canada (our summer place)
Martin Colony History: -Wife's family martin house shore Lake Ontario since 1967.
-2017 martin house taken over by starlings.
-2018 did research and purchased new martin house -Lonestar Alamo aluminum 14 compartment with perching rods and nest trays.
-2019 opened new martin house but frustrating season long battle with wily HOSPs (see posts) and martin visitors but no settlers.
-2020 Covid-19-honored request of locals that seasonal home owners stay away and only reached summer home too late to attempt to start colony. Aiming with determination and hope for next year.

Hi Toy,

Thank you very much for having taken the trouble to offer these suggestions.

I will try getting the anti-slip grit tape for the balcony floors. Had that been in place a few days ago I might now be hosting a mating martin pair. I will also try your suggestions re making the compartments look more used or "homey".

I agree that temporarily taking down the house and blocking off all the entrances is counter productive. I initially did it thinking the HOSP would then leave our territory, establish a nest elsewhere and not return. However, even after leaving our martin house closed for a couple of weeks while we were temporarily back in the city, the HOSP returned soon after we reopened it. I also discovered that, despite having more than one nest elsewhere, he continued to be strongly attracted to our martin house. I currently have our martin house up, with a couple of compartments open and will now prepare these as per your suggestions. If the HOSP comes back he will only have these 2 cavities to choose between (when the martin house was earlier fully open the sparrow was in and out of all 14 compartments). If he then shows signs of committing to a chamber, that is when and where I will place the insert trap and will ensure his nesting material is put on the trap floor. I will also follow your recommendation re decreasing the size of the compartment opening to prevent the inadvertent entry of a purple martin.

Thanks again, Toy. Will let you know how we do.

Gotham
ToyinPA
Posts: 2149
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

gotham wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:49 pm
Hi Toy,

Thank you very much for having taken the trouble to offer these suggestions.

I will try getting the anti-slip grit tape for the balcony floors. Had that been in place a few days ago I might now be hosting a mating martin pair. I will also try your suggestions re making the compartments look more used or "homey".

I agree that temporarily taking down the house and blocking off all the entrances is counter productive. I initially did it thinking the HOSP would then leave our territory, establish a nest elsewhere and not return. However, even after leaving our martin house closed for a couple of weeks while we were temporarily back in the city, the HOSP returned soon after we reopened it. I also discovered that, despite having more than one nest elsewhere, he continued to be strongly attracted to our martin house. I currently have our martin house up, with a couple of compartments open and will now prepare these as per your suggestions. If the HOSP comes back he will only have these 2 cavities to choose between (when the martin house was earlier fully open the sparrow was in and out of all 14 compartments). If he then shows signs of committing to a chamber, that is when and where I will place the insert trap and will ensure his nesting material is put on the trap floor. I will also follow your recommendation re decreasing the size of the compartment opening to prevent the inadvertent entry of a purple martin.

Thanks again, Toy. Will let you know how we do.

Gotham
Gotham:

You're welcome.

Check Lowe's for the grit tape.

Forgot to mention that you should only open compartments on the sides that you can see from your house. It makes it easier to keep watch. Once you get a colony established & need the ones on the back side then you can open them. Good luck on trapping the HS & I hope the martins come back & stay.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
gotham
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:36 am
Location: Wellington, On, Canada (our summer place)
Martin Colony History: -Wife's family martin house shore Lake Ontario since 1967.
-2017 martin house taken over by starlings.
-2018 did research and purchased new martin house -Lonestar Alamo aluminum 14 compartment with perching rods and nest trays.
-2019 opened new martin house but frustrating season long battle with wily HOSPs (see posts) and martin visitors but no settlers.
-2020 Covid-19-honored request of locals that seasonal home owners stay away and only reached summer home too late to attempt to start colony. Aiming with determination and hope for next year.

Hello Toy,

Yes, the two compartments I have open are ones facing our house so I can easily monitor what is going on-not only hoped for martin activity but, of course, whether the HOSP returns and starts a nest (no sign of him past couple of days).

Early this AM played Dawnsong. One martin landed on house and dropped down to the balcony of one of the open compartments and looked inside but did not try to enter and flew off. One other landed on the roof but left after only a momentary visit.

Am going to try to get the tape for the balconies this morning and will place some potential nesting material in the two open compartments. Still awaiting the arrival of the insert trap, which should get here this week. Am hoping I don't have to use it but do need to have it ready.

Thanks again for your helpful suggestions,

Gotham
ToyinPA
Posts: 2149
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

gotham wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:10 am
Hello Toy,

Yes, the two compartments I have open are ones facing our house so I can easily monitor what is going on-not only hoped for martin activity but, of course, whether the HOSP returns and starts a nest (no sign of him past couple of days).

Early this AM played Dawnsong. One martin landed on house and dropped down to the balcony of one of the open compartments and looked inside but did not try to enter and flew off. One other landed on the roof but left after only a momentary visit. It's frustrating to see a dilapidated and unmanaged martin house on an adjacent property going great guns (see photo) while our spanking new and deluxe :) house goes empty. However, we do understand that is because martins have been in the house next door for years, including last season, while we have had to start afresh after our old house, in a slightly different location on our property, was taken over by starlings last year.

Am going to try to get the tape for the balconies this morning and will place some potential nesting material in the two open compartments. Still awaiting the arrival of the insert trap, which should get here this week. Am hoping I don't have to use it but do need to have it ready.

Thanks again for your helpful suggestions,

Gotham
Gotham:

There are many martin colonies in old dilapidated houses across the breeding range in the USA & Canada. If you make your house appealing to the martins they will eventually come. Some put up a house & get martins in a few weeks, while others wait years. The more you do to make it homey for them the better. The fact that you have some visiting is a plus.

If it were me I'd open at least 2 rooms on the left side & right side of your house. Leave the back rooms closed for now. Pre-nest all open rooms & smear a little mud on each one. It doesn't take much, just a tiny smear. The more it looks used & the more open rooms the better. Visiting martins may prefer a certain side, so you need to give them that option. When my return each spring I know exactly which rooms to open first, as they always want those rooms. Once more arrive I open other rooms, leaving just a few closed for SY's when they arrive. Some rooms remain empty, as the ASY Males may claim an entire side & chase other males off, so they end up with the less demanded rooms.

Don't worry too much about the HS for now. Let them nest them trap them.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
gotham
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:36 am
Location: Wellington, On, Canada (our summer place)
Martin Colony History: -Wife's family martin house shore Lake Ontario since 1967.
-2017 martin house taken over by starlings.
-2018 did research and purchased new martin house -Lonestar Alamo aluminum 14 compartment with perching rods and nest trays.
-2019 opened new martin house but frustrating season long battle with wily HOSPs (see posts) and martin visitors but no settlers.
-2020 Covid-19-honored request of locals that seasonal home owners stay away and only reached summer home too late to attempt to start colony. Aiming with determination and hope for next year.

Hi Toy,

OK. Given your considerably greater experience will try as you suggest. Did get the anti-slip grit tape and applied it this morning, while also got old pine needles etc by the shore (used wife's hair dryer to dry :)) and pre-nested the open compartments.

Gotham
ToyinPA
Posts: 2149
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

gotham wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 4:19 pm
Hi Toy,

OK. Given your considerably greater experience will try as you suggest. Did get the anti-slip grit tape and applied it this morning, while also got old pine needles etc by the shore (used wife's hair dryer to dry :)) and pre-nested the open compartments.

Gotham
Gotham:

Sounds good. With any luck a pair or so will move in soon & you'll be on your way. Keep us updated.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
bootjack farm
Posts: 75
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 9:30 am
Location: Russell, Pa
Martin Colony History: 9 years of trying hard...finally in 2017 I had 3 pair w/ 11 babies. T-14 +4 w/ 4 Troyer horiz. gourds. Troyer Super System 24. Fast forward to 2020... 64 fledged.

Toy, this is a bit off topic but i had a similar experience w/ grackles about a week ago. made me think there is an upside to these birds even though they are known to raid nests. i have two very large spruce trees near two of my pm units. the grackles nest in them every year. last week a coopers was being chased by a bunch of grackles and pm's. the hawk had something small and dark in its talons. i did not see the actual attack, just looked up to see the commotion. got me thinking the grackles make good watch dogs for the pm's...but maybe not in this particular case. sorry about no caps. typing one handed.
Northwest PA
ToyinPA
Posts: 2149
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

bootjack farm wrote:
Fri Jun 07, 2019 5:41 am
Toy, this is a bit off topic but i had a similar experience w/ grackles about a week ago. made me think there is an upside to these birds even though they are known to raid nests. i have two very large spruce trees near two of my pm units. the grackles nest in them every year. last week a coopers was being chased by a bunch of grackles and pm's. the hawk had something small and dark in its talons. i did not see the actual attack, just looked up to see the commotion. got me thinking the grackles make good watch dogs for the pm's...but maybe not in this particular case. sorry about no caps. typing one handed.
I've yet to see Grackle's raiding a martin nest. They make good watch birds, as they hate crows & hawks. Last year we watch crows go back over & over taking grackle chicks from the nest, with parents chasing & screaming after them. Not much they could do. Was said. Nature can be cruel.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
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