Mortified by Bad Timing

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malachy cleary
Posts: 70
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: cold spring n.y.
Martin Colony History: First breeding pair in 2011. Site moved up hill 350 feet at beginning of nesting season
2019 to accommodate road construction.
Colony seems to have weathered the upheaval

My Colony is at the Glynwood Farm in Cold Spring, N.Y.
a private foundation dedicated to promoting agriculture in the
The Hudson Valley.
Yesterday, the day after the first Martins arrived I’ve been told by the farm superintendent that the whole set-up; a Gourd Rack, T-14, Birds Edge Aluminum House and an old Redwood House has to be all moved 20 feet to the East to accommodate a new road being built. This is after I had just repaired and reset the T-14 in 300 lbs. of concrete after an August 3, 2018
Microburst knocked it down.
Needless to say I’m upset, and explaining nest site fidelity,
Migratory songbirds and the special concern of Purple Martins
to a man on a bulldozer falls on deaf ears.
I suppose the timing could be somewhat worse. This could have happened in the middle of nesting season. In which case it would be illegal. Or has our Dear Leader eviscerated those regulations as well?
It’s not my land so I guess I must comply. Except I think
the superintendent thinks of it as moving a couple of park benches.
I did stress that if this must happen it needs to happen NOW.
That was followed by no return calls from the man who’s supposed to help, followed by two days off for the weekend.
The Martins are showing up 4 at a time now. Not sure how to proceed. I can’t do it myself in the time frame they want. I did it all by hand over weeks in the off season.

In High Anxiety,
Malachy Cleary
Posts: 2166
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.

The Martins will adapt to the houses being moved 20 feet. Do your best to get them moved ASAP. Nest building shouldn't start for a few weeks yet in your area. Once there are nests built it's against Federal Law to disturb/remove/destroy a bird nest. However a road may take precedence over a road, even tho breaking the Federal law.

I'd move the houses that have martins already staying in them first. Keep others open until you get one house set up & ready. Then close off the houses & let the one you got moved open. It will give them a place to over night while you move the rest.

If the land owners will permit you to bring in more help call your local Audubon group, or put a call out on the local radio.

Hopefully you'll get it all worked out.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
Posts: 1435
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

Sure they have a post hole digger on a tractor or gas powered hand held. Have them drill the holes. Call city manager if you need to, and make it happen. Get local game wardens involved if needed. Good luck.
7 pair
25 fledged
Posts: 3134
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

The people physically having to move the pole will be more stressed then the martins over a 20 foot move. I would try to set up the houses in the same formation and oriented the same way and I bet they will be just fine. I think if they just started arriving they haven't even claimed cavities on anything.
202160 nests with 187 eggs (6-3-20) HOSP count-9
2020 Currently 42 nest, Fledged approx 164 HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair last count 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 (11 that nested), 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair, 21 eggs, 16 hatched, 14 fledged.
malachy cleary
Posts: 70
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: cold spring n.y.
Martin Colony History: First breeding pair in 2011. Site moved up hill 350 feet at beginning of nesting season
2019 to accommodate road construction.
Colony seems to have weathered the upheaval

Thank you for your kind and helpful responses. Although this has been an experiment I would care to repeat it has so far seemed to be successful. The four houses were moved 350 feet away up a hill and the Martins have taken to the new location.
It has been nerve wracking and a lot of work but the move is complete. The pole for the T-14 had to be re-set in concrete so the compartments were on the ground for a day.
It’s tough dealing with people who view moving a Martin House with birds in it like moving a feeder. There’s no understanding of what I went through to get them where they are.
I also made the mistake of explaining to The lady in charge
What I was doing as I dispatched Starlings. The next day
I get a phone call from her messenger boy that I’m not allowed to do that anymore. Needless to say I will do what I must, be discreet and not share my efforts with the uneducated and sentimental. Onward and under the radar.
Posts: 683
Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2017 11:39 am
Location: Monroe, WI

I'm so glad it all worked out for you and your purple martins. I can't imagine your stress from it all. And yes - discretion is definitely important with what we have to do for our birds. :) I hope your martins like their new location even better than before. Have a great season!
Billie from south central Wisconsin
Dave Duit
Posts: 1932
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit and join.

I'm very proud of you for taking control of the dealings and situation you were confronted. Good to see landlords sticking up to the outside forces.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
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