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Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2020 6:55 pm
Location: Virginia

This question is for Dan Drew

I have read your article on TS & BB interference. I have had TS & BB for years but struggle with PM. I have made some upgrades to my PM housing & feel I am ready for them. However as I have read your Interference Article over & over I get real concerned the TS will interfere again. Last year I had visiting PM's and the TS chased them away. BB do not bother them. The TS nest is located 50 feet away so according to your article I should bring it closer. I have another TS nest far away (was there last year and had a nesting TS). I would say I usually have 3 pair of TS in the Spring . What would happen if I do not put up the TS nests? And keep the martin nests ready by closed & down?

Posts: 3137
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

In my area there are tons of TS. The only way I have found to deal with them when starting a colony is to get them into their own gourd, around 30-50 feet from the martin housing. Leave the martin housing closed until the TS start to nest and bring in feathers. Usually by then they are more preoccupied with their own nesting and won't pay as much attention to investigating martins. If you raise and open your PM housing too soon the TS will go to it and you will have to start the process over again. I have started 2 different colonies myself and both times the TS were the biggest issue, just because you obviously can't deal with them the way you deal with HOSP and starlings.

I have a job that allows me to work form home when needed, so I don't have a problem with keeping an eye on my colony. If I saw a martin buzzing around my housing I would go raise it and open a few cavities. If he stuck around great, if I didn't see him again after a day or so I would close it back up and wait until the next visitor. If you give a TS much time at all to gain interest in a cavity they will run off anything that comes nearby.
The light at the end of the tunnel is, once you get a colony established the returning martins won't be bothered by the TS. You can keep their housing closed until they return and then open it up.
TS around here usually return a month, sometime more, before the ASY martins. If you don't end up having ASY's showing interest in your housing, then the TS should be well along into their nesting, possibly already on eggs, by the time SY birds show up. That is how it was for me in Indiana.
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.
Posts: 128
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:30 pm
Location: Long Lake SD
Martin Colony History: 2006 - SY pair, unsuccessful nest attempt, 3 houses = 52 cavities

2010 - ASYM + SYF pair - male disappeared after storm, female fledged all 4 young.

2015 - Lone SYM stayed month of June...added 8 gourds = 60 cavities

2016 - 1 nesting pair (ASYM + SYF) 2/3 eggs hatched 2 young fledged.

2017 - 4 nesting pairs, 16/17 eggs hatched, 16 fledged, 16 banded - 2 banded SY returned in 2018 (12.5%), added housing: 11 houses w/gourds, 4 gourd poles = 376 cavities

2018 - 10 nesting pairs, 46/52 eggs hatched, 45 fledged, 29 banded - 3 banded SY returned in 2019 (10.3%)

2019 - 32 nesting pairs, 145/160 eggs hatched, 139 fledged - 87 banded - 12 banded SY returned in 2020 (13.8%).

2020 - 35 nesting pairs, 180/199 eggs hatched, 178 fledged - 150 banded.

An additional practice that might help lessen the TS aggression towards any martins that might stop at your housing is to place a number of PM decoys on and near your martin housing and play the daytime chatter and/or dawn song CD as much as you can throughout the day. In theory the TS will become accustomed to the continuous "sight and sound" of martins and thus be less aggressive towards PM that may visit your site. I believe this technique helped me get my colony started. I've had 50+ TS pair nesting at my place (not in PM housing though) for years and prior to putting up PM decoys and playing PM CDs any PM that would visit my PM housing would be harassed by dozens of TS. Once I put up the PM decoys and started playing the CDs only the nearest two TS pairs would show any aggression towards visiting martins, but the intensity of their aggression seemed to be less than year's past. The second year after using this technique I had a pair of PM nest at my site, and the rest is history. Two years ago a TS pair nested in a plastic gourd hanging beneath one of my PM houses. I had 4 PM nests in that house and one nest compartment entrance was less than 2 ft from the entrance of the TS occupied gourd. I observed little if any bickering among these neighbors. Both bird species now co-exist peacefully at my site....last year I had 35 PM pairs and 90 TS pairs (no BB, but hopefully they return again this year!).

Good luck.

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