Luring ASY martins from an existing colony?

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SCleland
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri May 08, 2020 8:57 am
Location: Evanston, Illinois, USA

Hello and Happy New Year,

This year I’ll resume trying to attract purple martins to a house that’s in a good, open location, and near water. I’ll continue to play the dawn song, keep out sparrows, etc.

I know there are martins nearby, because about a mile away is a 36-unit Trio castle that last summer had 16-18 pairs of birds.

What if I could persuade its owners to open only eight-ten compartments next spring, so that the last returning ASY birds would be forced to look for housing elsewhere? Ideally at least one or two pairs would relocate to my martin house. If the plan worked, there would still be time to re-open the closed compartments at the Trio castle so that SY birds could settle in.

Do you see any drawbacks to this plan? My understanding is that if ASY martins return to their colony and find it gone or reduced in size, that they will fuss for a day or two, then look elsewhere. Am I right?

Thanks,

Stuart
rrmartins
Posts: 1435
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

:roll:
Lol, you want somebody to reduce their colony growing too start yours? If you have a good setup, their growing colony will help get yours started.
2021
T14
10 Pair
49 Fledged
Dave Duit
Posts: 1962
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 www.iamartin.org and join.

Hi,
The best way and fastest method is to assist your neighbor in growing his colony. ASY martins are extremely site fidelity oriented and it would be highly unlikely for you to nab a pair from his colony. I do understnad that is it difficult for new martin enthusiasts to watch a nearby colony grow while they can't even get a single martin of their own, it is natural to feel this way. Hang with it and you will eventually get a pair. It took me 7 years to get my first pair. The first pair you will get will be young martins born last season, SY martins. The majority of your neighbors babies born last season will look for near housing, it is an instinct for most of them not to return to their original housing colony due to possible inbreeding. I wish you the best on getting your first SY pair.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
SSMartin
Posts: 314
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

In theory the neighbors colony should max itself out unless they are adding additional housing each year. Those extra birds have to nest somewhere. I would provide the same housing they are using at first even if a smaller size house (enlarge compartments if necessary) and hang a few gourds underneath.

Pre nest the compartments even if slightly and take it or leave it but I would play the dawn song 24/7 under the housing until you have at least a pair staying the night. It doesn’t have to be very loud. It always works for me if the site is right.
PMDavid
Posts: 534
Joined: Wed May 16, 2018 8:50 pm
Location: Boyce,Louisiana
Martin Colony History: 2018 1 lone nut and lots of visitors
2019 6 pair -21fledged
2020 18 pair -60 fledged
2021......to be seen.
24 natural gourds on a satellite rack,9 other gourds scattered around
2-12 compartment trio houses
Rarely see a sparrow or starling,but when I do they don’t last long!
Will have a second satellite rack for the 2022 season and phase out the houses,the martins here strongly prefer natural gourds.

SCleland, what these guys are telling you is correct. It is unlikely established martins will leave their site. Follow their advice cause this ain’t their first rodeo. I started with just a couple of houses and then added a good batch of gourds for a choice and went from one lone nut the first year,then six pair the second year, then 18 pair the third year. And they ultimately all chose the gourds . I am phasing out the houses because they all are choosing the gourds.This will be the fourth season kicking off this year and I can’t wait to see what happens. Be patient and they will come. Add two or three decoys,play the song,and I would offer at least a half dozen gourds. Also keep searching in your area for more sights in your area and see what they have and follow that. Good luck,paitience really is a virtue in the case of martins.
SSMartin
Posts: 314
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

SCleland,

All good advice above. Please keep us updated with your progress and I wish you the best of luck!
flyin-lowe
Posts: 3174
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

I can't remember what the technical name is for it but I have read reports of people doing this intentionally. Building larger colonies and then shutting them down to force the the martins to spread out to other colonies, so it's not unheard of.
Do you know anything about the history of his colony, how long it's been there, how many pair he had in years before last year? If he just has the one house and only get around 15 pair each year than more than likely you could pick up some of his as for some reason they are not staying there. There is a reason he is only getting about 50% each year. If he decides to add on than you might not draw any from him. The good news in that is that the more pair he has the more SY's that will be in your area looking for housing. As long as you have quality housing, in a good location you will likely get martins that fledged from his place soon enough.
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.
Bird Brain
Posts: 170
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:22 am
Location: Highland Village, TX
Martin Colony History: 2017-nothing
2018-1 visitor
2019-nothing
2020-the most visitors/activity by far after making many site improvements. Unsuccessful SY Male visited for 2 weeks.

Knock on his door and talk to him. He'll be more than happy to discuss his martin history with you. Make sure you have some pictures to show him. Martin landlords are very proud of their colonies and love it when others (especially neighbors) show interest. I've known my closest landlord for 2 years. I even noticed mistakes that he was making, like offering 6X6 compartments and not maintaining vigilant HOSP control. I offered compartments twice the size of his. I offered more variety of housing. I killed my HOSP as soon as they arrived. I took note of his methods and stepped up my game far beyond anything he was doing. I'm certain his large, successful colony is beginning to bleed over to mine. Being on this site gives you all the informational advantages that your nearby landlord doesn't have.
Why do Americans only flee blue states? Why don't Americans flee red states?
PMDavid
Posts: 534
Joined: Wed May 16, 2018 8:50 pm
Location: Boyce,Louisiana
Martin Colony History: 2018 1 lone nut and lots of visitors
2019 6 pair -21fledged
2020 18 pair -60 fledged
2021......to be seen.
24 natural gourds on a satellite rack,9 other gourds scattered around
2-12 compartment trio houses
Rarely see a sparrow or starling,but when I do they don’t last long!
Will have a second satellite rack for the 2022 season and phase out the houses,the martins here strongly prefer natural gourds.

SCleland, gooday. After some thought I thought I would bring up some other points about getting your birds going. You notice where rrmartins mentions having a good setup? Well I’ll tell of a situation of that. I have this neighbor about 600-700 yards away,and traditionally before I set up for martins he usually had 12-15 pair of birds for a decade. So along I come and set up three houses and a half dozen gourds and begin to educate myself all about martins. I noticed he didn’t prenest(which the birds prefer) and had all small 6x6 cavities,which are too small ,and his trees had gotten larger over the last 15 years and were over his houses(5). I tried to explain about the compartment size and the trees and he just wouldn’t listen(old school,closed minded). So my yard is wide open for the most part and my second year I made a gourd rack and put up 16 gourds and hung 8 more under houses.I quickly got six pair and his count went down to around 10 pair. All season even though I had only 12 birds everyday there would be 30-40 down here hangin out. So then last year my third year I got around 18 pair and he told me”there just weren’t any martins this year “ moral of the story.......improve your site and offer choice of housing. I’m gonna offer him a couple of gourds in the next week or so and I’ll bet they get birds ,maybe that’ll open his eyes.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1962
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 www.iamartin.org and join.

PMDavid,
I love this. It is a prime example of "I told you so" to the neighbor. Sadly in his mind he doesn't even realize that his actions of poor landlord management cost him his martins. If a neighbor doesn't want to hear what things should be done for a great colony, so be it. I have one across the lake that still refuses to listen. His housing may take the first prize in the US for most disgusting martin housing. He also lost his last pair 10 years ago. My colony is about 150 feet across the lake; last season I had 60 pair. I feel that I didn't steal his martins, the martins are only tired of the cramped housing that may have had mite infestations and poor venting and the pole was bent about 30 degrees, full of sparrow nests on the inside and starlings battling for the same compartments. As soon as his sparrow venture in my yard they last only a few minutes. I tried to get him to at least remove the housing if he wasn't going to take care of it and make it a sparrow factory, but hey I can't educate those that don't want to be educated on the subject.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
PMDavid
Posts: 534
Joined: Wed May 16, 2018 8:50 pm
Location: Boyce,Louisiana
Martin Colony History: 2018 1 lone nut and lots of visitors
2019 6 pair -21fledged
2020 18 pair -60 fledged
2021......to be seen.
24 natural gourds on a satellite rack,9 other gourds scattered around
2-12 compartment trio houses
Rarely see a sparrow or starling,but when I do they don’t last long!
Will have a second satellite rack for the 2022 season and phase out the houses,the martins here strongly prefer natural gourds.

Hi there Dave,I about LMAO at your take on my little scenario here. I tried to explain about the fact that even though he has had birds in the past he could make improvements to enhance his “site attractibility factor” to the birds. I don’t feel as though I stole his birds,I just #1have a better flyway area,being open,and #2 have roomy housing,being the gourds. They are all 9”-12” and pre nested. I believe from what I’ve seen ,at least in this region,if offered the choice side by side of gourds or trio houses they will pick the gourd 99% of the time. Last season I had 24 house holes and 28 gourds. I had 18 pairs of birds and only one pair of them chose a house,the rest were in the gourds. At the end of the day i plan to phase out the two houses and just have all gourds. I’m excited for the arrival of this year’s birds to return and have a lot of hopes they all make it and get out and about and bring home lots more of their friends to further increase the colony size. Good luck to ya.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1962
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 www.iamartin.org and join.

Thanks PMDavid. I get a good laugh too when I see what extent people will go to avoid taking care of martin housing. I think it may be plain laziness on their part.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
SCleland
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri May 08, 2020 8:57 am
Location: Evanston, Illinois, USA

Dear Friends,

Thanks for all the replies – I appreciated them and will benefit from your advice.

I didn’t want to load up my original posting with too much info, but the situation is a bit different than some of you assume.

The established 36-hole castle, which was about half full last summer, is in a public park along Lake Michigan. As far as I can tell, no one is maintaining it. It had sparrows in several compartments, the house hasn’t been lowered for the winter, the entrances aren’t stopped up, etc.

The unoccupied martin house is on a non-profit golf course about a mile away, near some human houses. I have a fair amount of experience with PMs, so last spring I volunteered to take it on. Despite playing the dawn song, keeping out sparrows, etc., I didn’t have any luck. Since I wasn’t there most of the time, I don’t know if PMs ever visited.

I will do my best to attract them next spring using all the methods you recommend. But I also thought that if the park people agreed, I would stop up the castle holes now (which they should have done anyway). Then in April we would open only eight or ten units for the returning ASY martins. The rest of the PMs would be forced to find another house – ideally, the one on the golf course.

The purpose wouldn’t be just to satisfy the golf course’s (and my) desire for martins. Twice in the past decade our area has experienced extremely high winds (derechos) that have smashed trees and done other severe damage. If a derecho knocked down the castle during nesting season, it would be a bad blow to the local PM population. To me it seems wise to spread out the martins rather than keep all our eggs in one basket, so to speak.

Best wishes,

Stuart
tor
Posts: 241
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:35 pm
Location: Marlboro County, SC
Martin Colony History: Capacity: 72 Troyers on 3 X Super-24 racks

There is a good chance that the colony a mile a way will bleed some martins over in your direction. Just be patient and dont give up,, and it will happen eventually. Good luck to you.
Location: Marlboro County, SC

2021: Capacity: 72 - First Scouts: 2/22
2020: Capacity: 72 - First Scouts: 2/11 - 71 pair - 298 fledged
2019: Capacity: 72 - First Scouts: 2/22 - 70 pair - 315 fledged
2018: Capacity: 70 - First Scouts: 2/18 - 60 pair - 270 fledged
2017: Capacity: 42 - First Scouts: 2/25 - 39 pair
2016: Capacity: 42 - First Scouts: 3/10 - 32 pair
2015: Capacity: 24 - First Scouts: 3/23 - 4 pair

Purple Martins Of South Carolina
Spiderman
Posts: 825
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:19 am
Location: Gladewater, Texas

If the castle house reached full capacity and produced a good number of Sy’s that fledged the previous year, you would have Martins that would eagerly go to your site.

Unless the original house is completely gone, usually Sy’s establish new colonies.
2008 - 33 PAIR - FLEDGED 96 YOUNG
2009 - 51 PAIR - FLEDGED 166 YOUNG
2010 - 45 PAIR - FLEDGED 146 YOUNG
2011 - 33 PAIR - 128 HATCHED, 97 FLEDGED
2012 - 37 PAIR - 119 HATCHED, 101 FLEDGED
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