Discouraged in Louisiana

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Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2017 12:53 pm
Location: Lecompte, LA

Hello all,

This is my first year to try to attract martins. I live in central Louisiana. I've had a few martins stop and look over the past couple months, but none have stayed.. and now haven't seen a Martin in 2-3weeks.

So my setup... I have a Delux gourd rack with 8 troyer horizontals, and a s&k red barn (closed attic rooms and expanded to larger compartments, now it's got 6 rooms only). The closest tree is 70' away... it's fairly open other than tall trees several hundred feet away. The housing is about 40 feet from my shed (all pretty close to my house). It's in the most open area that I have.

I put some pine straw in each gourd and in the barn. I'm playing the dawn song from about 5:30am to 7:3am. Also in the late evenings. Haven't seen a SY yet.. and been a few weeks since I've seen any adult "lookers"... also I've killed two starlings.. haven't seen any house sparrows.

I'm disappointed... I was hoping to have a couple staying here by now. I'm seeing reports all over the south of SY arrivals. Any advice? Maybe just be patient? Any tips from the experts are greatly appreciated. It isn't any fun without the martins. Thanks!

BW Fowler
Posts: 156
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:01 pm
Location: TX/Buda

It seems to me that you are doing things the 'right way' if there is such a thing. I'm sure there will be many tips that the good folks here on the forum will share with you. Smear some mud inside some gourds and outside on the porches. Add more perching space, especially if there are no power lines nearby. You seem to understand how important it is to keep the non-native pest birds under control.

My feeling is that the martins should like your Troyer gourds with tunnels. My first pair moved in after I put 4 gourds with tunnels on my 12-gourd rack. The next year I put out 8 gourds with tunnels and had 7 pair, all chose gourds with tunnels. Now I have super gourds with tunnels added and Troyer verticals. I think housing preference is very regional though, perhaps the martins choose what they are used to or something similar to the housing type where they fledged. You may want to canvas the neighborhood and see what the birds nearby are used to.

But I think the most important thing will be patience. Sometimes it takes several years, even in great places for martins like central Louisiana, but it can also happen whenever the birds decide, which could still be this year!

Best of luck, the young birds will be arriving in masse soon, and that's your best chance.
2009-2013 a few visitors.
2014: 1 pair of SY love birds, 5 fledges; 2015: 7 pair, 34 Fldg; 2016: 12p/54F; 2017: 14p/71F;
2018: 24p/103F; 2019: 29p/130F; 2020: 38p/190F
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2017 12:53 pm
Location: Lecompte, LA

Thanks BW I'm encouraged by your response! None of my neighbors have any Martin housing. About 3 miles away, a house has a couple aluminum houses which have a few birds. I figured I'd try both gourds and the barn just to give a little variety since I'm not sure what they prefer around here. Patience can be very difficult! Lol
Posts: 870
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:15 pm
Location: Plano, Texas
Martin Colony History: See Signature

You're not the only one. I've been playing the dawn song, the daytime chatter etc. etc. I have 16 S&K gourds 8 of them have tunnels. I have two decoys up presently.

In the morning I play the dawn song and I get many visitors. Some of them land while others give it the fly by. Later in the morning around 930 to 10am I begin with the daytime chatter. Its amazing how there will be no birds around but, when the chatter comes on, they appear out of no where. There is a gang of 6 that always come in. The 2 females fly close and are followed by the 4 ASY males. None of them land or stay. There are two pair across the alley from me so when one of those females comes around to check things out, the male will get between her and my gourds and steer her away.

I haven't really seen any SY birds yet so I keep playing my CD's and waiting. I'm off this week from work so I get to hang out and play with the Martins all day. The start up can make you anxious as well as start second guessing yourself and the set up. I am seeing a lot of Martins during the day but not sure if they are repeat visitors throughout the day or if they are newbies. I do know the gang of 6 is usually the same though.

Good luck to you.

2016 - late to put up, many visitors
2017 - 1 pair, 3 fledged
2018- 2 pair, 12 fledged
2019 - 4 pair, 21 fledged
2020 - 15 pair, 67 fledged
BW Fowler
Posts: 156
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:01 pm
Location: TX/Buda

I think it is a good approach to offer them a choice in housing. In addition to pine straw, you might add some oak leaves and twigs to make it look like a pair nested there last year.

Might also think about putting out some martin decoys or dove decoys around the perimeter of your site. I'm taking the advice of several folks on the forum and putting the decoys on top of a long stick, like a garden stake. Following what others have done, in some cases I attach two garden stakes together with zip ties to make them ~8-10 feet tall. I put them pretty much out in the open and this seems to get a lot of action.

If you do attract martins or have interested visitors, the decoys should help keep them safe.

Best of luck,
2009-2013 a few visitors.
2014: 1 pair of SY love birds, 5 fledges; 2015: 7 pair, 34 Fldg; 2016: 12p/54F; 2017: 14p/71F;
2018: 24p/103F; 2019: 29p/130F; 2020: 38p/190F
Emil Pampell-Tx
Posts: 6743
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 1:26 pm
Location: Tx, Richmond (SW of Houston)
Martin Colony History: First started in Gretna, La in 1969 with a small homemade house, have had martins ever since at 2 different homes in Texas

Louisiana is a martin rich area (I had my first house in Louisiana that got me started on martineering). The reason for not attracting martins about 90% of the time is not the type of housing, the reason is TREES nearby. Martins know that trees nearby are are not good for their safety from hawks. The older martins will not stay at a site that has nearby trees. The more open your site, the better your chances are. Good luck, and I hope you attract some.
PMCA Member, 250 gourds, 6 poles, 2traps
Posts: 1942
Joined: Tue May 17, 2005 6:42 pm
Location: Florida/Pompano Beach
Martin Colony History: I moved to South Florida, from Delaware, in August of 2015.

I will have 2 MSS-8 houses, with Excluder entrances, here on my condo grounds. This season I will also have two Deluxe Gourd Racks with 24 Excluder Gourds with Modified Excluder entrances. In our condo development, along the lake in a different section, I have 8 Excluder Gourds hanging from 84 inch Shepherd's Hooks with predator guards.

At Quiet Waters Park, nearby in Deerfield Beach, I care for a Deluxe Gourd Rack with 12 TVG's. I also care for a Deluxe Gourd rack with 12 Excluder gourds with Modified Excluder entrances.

At another local park, Tradewinds Park at Coconut Creek, care for a Trendsetter 12, 5 gourds rack with 60 Excluder gourds with Modified Excluder Entrances and 1 Deluxe Gourd Rack with 12 Troyer Vertical Gourds with wing guards over the Conley II to keep out smaller starlings.

It sounds like you have done everything right.

The more open the better. Trees in a martin's view are bad. Having said that though, I had a thriving colony up in Delaware and it was much more enclosed than one would expect with tall human houses and some tall rows of leyland cypress.

A LOT of this is just pure luck. I KNOW how tough it is to wait and see others getting martins while you get nothing. Eventually that one pair will find your gourds and decide to nest. It only takes that one pair to get started. Try not to stress out. Just rid the area of house sparrows and continue what you are doing. You have great products that martins love.

Here in South Florida I had just about given up hope when a pair showed up in mid March last year. Then another single guy showed up and many weeks later he bonded with a lovely lady. They were laying eggs when other martins in the area were fledging young! They did not fledge young until late July and that is VERY LATE down here. You may have a pair of late arrivals too. PLENTY of martins are still moving north through LA. Keep playing that CD to help get their attention.

Fingers crossed for you

Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2017 12:53 pm
Location: Lecompte, LA

Thanks so much for the replies! I will keep playing the CD and crossing my fingers. I feel much more optimistic now.
Doug Martin - PA
Posts: 1938
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.

I am with Emil.

Take a good look at your site and see what could be trimmed or cut to open things up a bit more.

You sound like your site is not very open right now. Sometimes a branch or two can make a considerable difference. However those tall trees can make it very difficult. They say if you cut it down and it would fall on or touch the house it is probably too close. Hawks will sit in those trees.

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.
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun May 01, 2016 7:57 am
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Martin Colony History: 2015-put up the house, as is, and no takers.
2016-Modified the house for larger rooms, added two gourds, and played the dawn song daily. First pair arrived! 5 eggs, all hatched, but only 4 babies remain. None have fledged yet, but any day now!! Update: 3 out of 5 babies made it to fledgling! All flew off!


I'm in Central Oklahoma and it took us 2 years to get martins. The first year, we just put up a house and had a lot of visitors, but none stayed (2015). The next year we put up the house again, made some adjustments to make larger rooms, added two gourds, 2 decoys, and played the dawn song each morning. We got martins the end of April that year (2016). So I don't think it's a fast process and your set up sounds a lot better than ours.

As for the tree situation, we have a large 50+ year old Oak tree in our backyard. It is very tall but it is probably about 100 feet away. Around the martin house are other shorter trees, Crepe Myrtles, that are about the same height, maybe a little shorter than the house. These are anywhere from 30-50 feet away. My neighbors also have large mature trees around us, and another colony several blocks over is completely surrounded by trees and he has martins each year.

I too was really worried that we wouldn't get any due to the proximity of our trees, however, I was not willing to kill beautiful mature trees. So, I think you're doing everything right, waiting is the hardest part!! :) Hopefully your LA martins are not as picky either! Good luck!
Posts: 3158
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

If you can post an overhead picture of your property from google earth. Sometimes seeing it from their view can give you ideas.
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.
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