Chicadee Interference Redux

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
gotham
Posts: 88
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.

For decades annual martin colony in unsupervised martin house at our seasonal home in Wellington Ontario, Canada, on north east shore of Lake Ontario. About 6 years ago tradition interrupted when house taken over by starlings. 3 years ago, late in season, decided to become active martin landlords and purchased Lone Star Alamo martin house to use following season. 2 years ago first attempt to re-establish martin colony. Failed due to season long frustrating battle with wily and tenacious HOSP and, later, his mate (described in "chicadee interference" postings). Because that year a martin couple couldn't squeeze through the SREH's, we replaced a 3 hole panel with one having round holes, so 3 compartments with round entrances and 11 with the SREH's. Last year Covid-19 travel restriction prevented our getting to our seasonal home in time to start a colony.

2021 now trying again. April 18 Purple Martins arrived (latest ever-usually April 15) and we posted on Scout Arrival Study. April 18 starlings entered one of the 3 compartments with round holes and started nest building. Immediately closed off these compartments by reversing their nest trays.

April 19 a single MALE HOSP took over the house! Flitted in and out of compartments and sat on balconies and roof vocalizing to attract a mate. After all the failed attempts 2 years before to rid our martin house of a HOSP my wife, the owner of our summer home, now willing to go the air rifle route :grin: However, we decided to try something no one on the forum advised us to try 2 years ago. We lowered the house and added 2 martin decoys, as shown in the attached photos, in the hope they would not only attract martins but also dissuade the HOSP from coming back. Lo and behold, it has seemed to work !! The HOSP has not returned since (in marked contradistinction to our dismal experience 2 years ago).

April 19 playing the Dawn Song. A martin landed on one of our Alamo balconies and made a concerted effort to get through a SREH. He then tried unsuccessfully to enter a couple of other compartments but, to our great disappointment, couldn't seem to squeeze through (see attached photos). I was tempted to give his bum a push. He flew off and has not returned. This mirrored our experience 2 years ago when a martin couple made a determined effort to enter our house but couldn't get through the SREH's (as shown in photos in "Chicadee Interference" that year). For some reason this seems to be an issue with us even though this is a Lone Star martin house and the openings are "regulation size". Maybe our Canadian martins are fatter than their American cousins :-(

April 23 sunny and same forecast for tomorrow and going to play the Dawn Song all day and hope.

Gotham
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ToyinPA
Posts: 2174
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.

I can't tell by your photos, but adding adhesive grit strip below each entrance, & inside as well, may help them get better traction to get in & out. I'd use 2-3 inch wide/deep strip & it should be as wide as the openings. So I'm guessing at least 2 inches wide/deep x 3 inches wide/across.

The name depends on the manufacturer. It goes by various descriptions....Anti-slip tape, Skid Tape, Traction Tape. It comes on a roll in different widths, but 2 inch or 3 inch wide works well.

I'd suggest using alcohol to clean the surface before putting the tape on.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
gotham
Posts: 88
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 for the suggestion.

When I had the problem 2 years ago, with the martin couple unable to enter our house through the SREH's, you advised me to apply the grit tape and I did (see photo near bottom of page 2 of the "Chicadee Interference" posts at the time). I put the tape on the balconies, although not inside the compartments.

It was this issue that prompted me to contact Lone Star and order the one 3 hole panel with the round openings. I was hoping the starlings wouldn't be a problem and that once martins inhabited the 3 compartments with the round holes their presence would be enough of an attractant that other martins would make more of an effort to get into some of the 11 remaining compartments with the SREH's. However, the starlings have forced me to close off these 3 openings. I just have to hope for some Purple Martins in better shape or that I can later try unblocking the round holes without again attracting the starlings.

It looks as though we might be in for another disappointing season, although it is still early days in this part of the world. The one thing we are very grateful for is that the HOSP has stayed away ever since we added the 2 decoys to the house.

Gotham
gotham
Posts: 88
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.

May 24 Update-
Despite having the two decoys in place the HOSP returned about two weeks ago (see attached photo"sonofagun")-so much for the naive hope that the use of martin decoys would be a strategy that would deter the HOSP from coming back! I therefore decided to keep our martin house up, but with all entrances closed until the Scout Arrival map showed the SY's had reached the south shore of Lake Ontario, directly below us.

As the SY's are now in northern New York State, I today opened the three compartments with the round entrance holes and began playing the Dawn Song. No sooner had I done this than a HOSP male-female pair landed on the house and began going in and out of the open compartments. Very shortly after that, a few Purple Martins began circling overhead and one landed on the balcony of one of the open compartments. As he moved towards the entrance one of the HOSPs stuck his head out and drove the martin off. My heart sank.

It was now clear that if we wanted to prevent the HOSPs from ruining another year's attempt to re-establish a martin colony we had only one alternative- that was to accept advice American members of this forum had given us when we had the same HOSP problem two seasons ago. At that time it was recommended that we shoot the little b****rs. However, my wife, who owns our seasonal home, was then reluctant to go that route. With her now onside, I contacted a local this morning and borrowed an air rifle. I lowered the house to reduce the range. I shot the male and then the female. Each died immediately, with no apparent suffering. In retrospect this is how I wish we had handled the situation two seasons ago.

We now have our martin house up and the Dawn Song playing. Our neighbour's unsupervised martin house is nicely occupied (see "Neighbours") and we hope there will be overflow to our house when more of the SY's arrive. If more HOSPs show up we finally know how to deal with them and this has made us much more hopeful :)

Gotham
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C.C.Martins
Posts: 1247
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- Visitors.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021- 28 pair. 118 fledged
Home colony: mix natural, super and excluder gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mini castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021: 10 pair, 30 fledged
PMCA member

The alamo houses are beautiful, very nice choice. The unsupervised house looks to be on its last legs...if you don't get their martins id be surprised. Site fidelity is a strong pull.
With a purchase like that and your decision to be active for your birds they are going to be well taken care of. If its visitors from the mis managed colony, looks like they have never seen SREH before, if they want to get in they will. His or her house looks full, birds they attract can be yours.
Keep playing the dawn song, rid the area of sparrows. I wonder if you would consider moving the house closer to where human activity is? Possible?
Best, Tom
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
gotham
Posts: 88
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 Tom,

Thanks for the words of encouragement and for your suggestions.

As for the possibility the martins in this area may have never before seen SREH's, I have now reopened the 3 compartments with the round holes (the other 11 compartments having the SREH's). If the starlings return I will try to dispatch them with the air rifle.

The neighbor's martin house has been fully occupied every season for at least 60 years and has looked as though it was "on its last legs" for at least 20 of these :) . It is certainly a martin magnet and gives us hope that, now that we have finally found a way of dealing with the HOSPs, we will be able to re-establish a colony in our new house.

Your suggestion that we might do better if we moved our Alamo martin house closer to our home is interesting. The neighbor's martin house, which has been so successful, is in a wide open area very close to the shore of the lake. Ours is half way between the shore and our house. Because of the example next door, I had actually been wondering if we should move ours closer to the lake. One of the reasons we decided not to, though, was because we wanted to be able to see the purple martins fairly easily if they did move in. The other reason is that our Lonestar Alamo is now positioned about the same distance from the lake as was our old martin house, which had been occupied by martins for many years.

We're keeping our fingers crossed.

Gotham
gotham
Posts: 88
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.

FINALLY! We can hardly believe it! A Purple Martin has actually landed on, and ENTERED, our Purple Martin house!

This morning a male SY landed on the balcony of one of the 3 compartments of our Lonestar Alamo Purple Martin house that have round entrance holes (the other 11 compartments have the SREH's). He was wary, at first just sitting on the balcony for about 40 minutes without venturing inside (see first photo). He ultimately did, though, and has been sitting inside, with just his head protruding, for about the last 3 hours (see second picture).

We now hope he will stay and that he will succeed in attracting a mate. We think he has a good chance of doing so as the martin house on a neighboring property is pretty full and should draw more new arrivals to our area.

I wasn't playing the Dawn Song this morning because of a forecast of rain, which has proven accurate. When the weather clears I wonder whether I should start playing the Dawn Song again or whether I should leave well enough alone and let our guy, on his own, both find a mate and attract other martins to our house. I would be interested in what those of you with more experience than I recommend.

Gotham
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deancamp
Posts: 682
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

Gotham, I personally would play the dawnsong. I don't think it will run them off but if you see it having a negative effect on them turn it off and your decision has been made. On the positive side of playing it, Martins want to be around other Martins so it can make them feel more comfortable being around your housing giving them the feeling they are not there alone. It also might draw in more birds when he is out feeding and recruiting a mate. Obviously you have had luck by not playing it so you can tinker with it and see what best fits your situation. Good Luck and keep after those sparrows.
Jeff Dean
Jones4381
Posts: 102
Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:54 pm
Location: Rocky Mount VA
Martin Colony History: Newbie 51 years old 2020 and stumbled onto this by accident. Amazing bird. Just wanna help and give/receive happiness and be one with nature. Don't mind shooting an intruder of any kind though. Have a blessed day.

June 18 2021...3 hatchlings. New colony creation established

This is great. Is he still there? Any mates show up for the tour yet? Good Luck!
51 year old HY beginner. Year 1 for me!
gotham
Posts: 88
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.

Thank you, Jeff and Jones, for your feedback.

Later the day of my last posting (Friday, May 28) the SY appeared to have gone. The following day was overcast and rainy and he did not return, making me wonder if, being alone, he had gone to join the colony on the neighboring property. That evening ANOTHER HOSP appeared! I lowered the house and again borrowed an air rifle to have for the morning.

Yesterday I got one shot at the HOSP and missed. He flew off. When he returned I tried approaching but he flew away again. When he had not come back a couple of hours later, as it was a beautiful sunny day with martins flying overhead, I decided to open the 3 compartments with round holes, raise our martin house and play the Dawn Song. About an hour and a half later a pair of martins landed on the balcony of the bottom compartment. One went inside right away, while the other stayed on the balcony. The one on the balcony then rhythmically and repeatedly bobbed his head part way into the chamber and then out again, as though communicating with the one inside (see photo "Kissing"). After continuing this process for awhile he then positioned himself, part way inside and part way out (see photo "OnGuard"). Finally, he entered the compartment, too, and just kept his head poking out (see photo "LookinOut").

At that point I made a colossal mistake :-( ! To reset the Dawn Song, in an attempt to attract more martins to join these two, I approached the CD player on the ground below our martin house. As they sensed my coming near below them each, in turn, exited the house and flew off and they have not returned!

All the rest of yesterday, and still today, I have had a feeling of inner pain and a sense of mourning, as a result of having come so close and then, through my own action, blown it. The lesson I have taken from this experience is that, while the martins tolerate human interaction once they have fully committed to a "home", it is probably best to keep one's distance as they are just starting to seriously consider making it their nesting area.

Although I am beginning to anticipate another failed season, it is sunny today, the HOSP is not around, I have the Lonestar Alamo house up with the Dawn Song playing and am hoping.

Gotham
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Jones4381
Posts: 102
Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:54 pm
Location: Rocky Mount VA
Martin Colony History: Newbie 51 years old 2020 and stumbled onto this by accident. Amazing bird. Just wanna help and give/receive happiness and be one with nature. Don't mind shooting an intruder of any kind though. Have a blessed day.

June 18 2021...3 hatchlings. New colony creation established

I think this is good news. I'm of the belief once you have Martins around and visiting no need for the dawn song...just my opinion by they can do more to attrack others than we can....I still only have the dedicated one pair laying but had 6 more show up today and all kind of raccous noises so went outside and saw 2 additonal females and 1 ASY male and 1 SY Male along with the other 2 committed. They all go in and out of my natural gourds and I believe another set will begin nesting soon. I have all pine prenested and doesn't take long for them to begin. The one pair has laid 3 eggs and taking turns eating during the day. Guessing they will begin sitting within the week here. I bet you didn't run them off by what you did..I actually talk to them, waive at em, and the more I'm around the gourd rack seems like more show up to check me out...I believe you should be around them more than watching from afar...just my expierience so far...but I'm a rookie... Kill the HOSP is the best thing you can do imo...I"ve gotten 7 so far this year and will shoot everyone I see. Good luck and keep us updated I think you'll get a pair this year but I'd focus on the HOSP if it were me. Later
51 year old HY beginner. Year 1 for me!
C.C.Martins
Posts: 1247
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- Visitors.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021- 28 pair. 118 fledged
Home colony: mix natural, super and excluder gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mini castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021: 10 pair, 30 fledged
PMCA member

Don't get down just yet. Its a very good sign they entered, they may just be back. They are not in a rush when in their areas.
As jones4381 indicated concentrate on the sparrows for now. Upgrade from bbs to pellets as they are more accurate. If u have not already done so.
Seems like we only get a few good opportunities at one, cannot afford to miss. Think about ground or passive sparrow traps as well. There are a number to choose from, they work great, seems to come in spurts though you'll catch one or two then nada for a week.
Tom
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
gotham
Posts: 88
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.

June 2 Update

At 6:30 AM started playing Dawn Song with the 3 compartments with the round holes open. Over next couple of hours Purple Martins repeatedly visiting, at different times entering each of the 3 open compartments, staying for a while and then flying off before later returning (?same guys or different ones) -see attached photo MartinPair.

Then disaster-a bloody HOSP arrived and took over a compartment while a martin stayed put in his-see photo HOSPMartin. Went out with the air rifle and lowered the martin house, with both the HOSP and martin flying off. On the HOSP's return missed a couple of shots with his flying away. When he didn't return decided to again raise the martin house with all but one entrance closed off, hoping the martins would take this over, leaving the HOSP with nowhere to go (realizing this a poor compromise and that would be much better to get rid of the HOSP first, but I had limited time available today).The martins did return and took over the one open chamber, as I had hoped. The HOSP also came back with a martin, however, staying put in the one open compartment. Couldn't get a clear angle on the HOSP, but while I was trying to, a couple of martins angrily dive bombed me, acting as though they had now taken ownership of our Lonestar Alamo. With nowhere to go the HOSP flew away. However, with all the maneuvering on the ground below, the martin took off a short while later.

I just looked out to see what is happening now. There is a martin in the only open compartment and the HOSP has also come back and was sitting on the roof but has now flown off again.

I am going to see if I can borrow a more accurate air rifle-one with a telescopic sight. Unfortunately, we have to return to Toronto to get our second shot of the Covid-19 vaccine, and will be away for a couple of days at this very critical juncture.

With all the martin activity today I feel if it weren't for the HOSP we would have had a couple of compartments now occupied by martins. This is extremely frustrating, especially coming at a time when we have to leave for a couple of days and have little time to spare today.

Gotham
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Jones4381
Posts: 102
Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:54 pm
Location: Rocky Mount VA
Martin Colony History: Newbie 51 years old 2020 and stumbled onto this by accident. Amazing bird. Just wanna help and give/receive happiness and be one with nature. Don't mind shooting an intruder of any kind though. Have a blessed day.

June 18 2021...3 hatchlings. New colony creation established

Thanks for the update. Have you thought of...or know anyone nearby that could shoot the HSOP for you? Maybe another Martin landlord with good sniping skills. That HSOP has to go. You're right there if you can rid him and give your PM's some peace. Good luck. I'd be willing to shoot it if I was a neighbor and had martins too. Those HSOP's get more and more ellusive once you miss the open shot....wiley they can be. Let us know when you or a neighbor get him.
51 year old HY beginner. Year 1 for me!
gotham
Posts: 88
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 Jones,

Sadly, the final outcome today was what one would have predicted. The HOSP ended up outlasting the martin and being the sole occupant of the one compartment I had left open.

Because we have to return to Toronto for the next two days and won't be here to provide oversight, I lowered our martin house and closed the last open compartment by reversing the nest tray.

I contacted the person who had loaned me the air rifle (pointed steel pellets rather than BB's) and asked if he had access to one that was more accurate (although I had managed to kill the two earlier HOSPs with this one). He knows of one that does have a telescopic sight and is accurate and will see if it is available. The one concern with it is that the pellets are quite large and a miss could blow a hole in the martin house.

If I can get a more accurate weapon, when we return from the city on Saturday I will try to reopen one compartment of the martin house. Once the HOSP reappears I hope to be able to eliminate it and then open the house to the martins. I would be willing to pay a marksman to do the job, with his own weapon and under my supervision, and I might inquire into that possibility.

This is the second season where HOSPs have frustrated my attempt to re-establish what used to be an annual tradition here of hosting a Purple Martin colony. Although those were unsupervised colonies the aim now is to be a supportive and true martin landlord.

Gotham
gotham
Posts: 88
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.

June 6 Update

On our way back from Toronto yesterday I purchased a Stoeger S3000-C Combo air rifle with a telescopic sight using .177 alloy pellets.

I decided I would devote today to getting rid of the HOSP and would postpone trying to attract martins until this accomplished. I therefore left our martin house down and opened one compartment to attract the sparrow. To my surprise, despite the house being down, a martin landed on the balcony and entered this one open compartment. In view of this apparent real martin interest I decided to change my plan. I raised the martin house with 2 compartments now open (with the martin flying off as I did so), while playing the Dawn song and watching carefully for HOSPs with my new air rifle at the ready.

Soon a martin pair circled our Lonestar Alamo, landed repeatedly on the roof and balconies and entered the open compartments. After this had gone on for a couple of hours a third purple martin joined in the activity (see photo 3Musketeers). This went on into the early afternoon when they finally left. I am quite sure they will be back as they really seemed to take ownership of our martin house.

The challenge now will be to kill the HOSP (or HOSPs) when they return and prevent their driving the martins away. I don't know why our house seems to be a HOSP magnet, while our neighbor's martin house always has lots of purple martins and no HOSPs. I am wondering if it is because his house is higher up and right at the shore, while ours is further removed from the shore, being mid way between the lake and our seasonal home.

I am now hoping I will be able to keep the HOSPs at bay and not experience another failed season attempting to have purple martins settle into our martin house.

Gotham
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gotham
Posts: 88
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.

June 9 Update

The martins did return.

Because of the HOSP threat I have just left 2 compartments open. I have been glad to have done so as yesterday a HOSP landed on the martin house roof and dropped down onto a few of the balconies where the entrances were blocked off. Luckily he didn't check out the side of the house with the two open chambers. He then flew off and, so far, has not come back.

I think just one martin pair has moved in. My slight uncertainty stems from the fact that, while I have seen two enter the bottom compartment together, the two open rooms are frequently occupied at the same time (see image 3730). This morning two landed simultaneously, one on the mid and one on the lower balcony (image 3731). However, the one on the mid level then dropped down to join his apparent partner on the bottom level. It thus seems that this one pair are hogging the two only open compartments. Is this commonplace? I would have thought they would have taken only one for themselves, leaving the other available.

I don't know whether the fact that the one pair have taken over the only two accessible compartments will prevent my attracting other martins. Will this pair be willing to limit themselves to just one of the two chambers if other purple martins want to move in? I have been playing the Dawn Song today, trying to attract another pair. This morning three martins landed on the martin house with one then hovering in front of the closed off compartment just above the two that are open. When he saw it was closed he flew away and hasn't returned. At the moment, because of my disastrous experience with HOSPs, I am reluctant to unblock a third entrance and give a HOSP an opening. Additionally, in order to do so, I would have to lower the martin house and am concerned that doing so this early in their tenancy might scare off the one pair I have been fortunate enough to have had move in.

With only one pair to date, and the ever present HOSP threat, our hold on a successful purple martin season is very tenuous so far. It would certainly help if, in addition to our doing what we can to support this martin couple, we could attract another pair.

Gotham
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gotham
Posts: 88
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.

JUNE 9 PS:

Shortly following the above post I looked out and, to my surprise, saw a threesome on the bottom balcony (see image 3733).

I am puzzled as to what the dynamics of this purple martin relationship might be. Why would a pair be this close to a third? If the third stays will he share a single compartment with them or settle into one of his own and try to attract a mate? I would be interested in what those in the Purple Martin community with experience think.

Thanks,

Gotham
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ToyinPA
Posts: 2174
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.

A single SY will often hang out with a pair. I've had single SY female & even SY males hang with a ASY pair the entire season. They usually sleep in a different cavity tho. Some SY's are just not ready to mate & have chicks.

A pair will often move from one cavity to another until they finally decide on one. You can lower your housing to do checks & get rid of sparrows. Best time is afternoon while they are off feeding.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
gotham
Posts: 88
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.

Toy,

Thank you very much for this information. I was definitely puzzled. This suggests that if this is the situation that applies to this threesome my third guy may just take up a compartment and fail to mate and produce offspring. However, if I am lucky, he may come back next year and mate then.

Thanks, too, for the tip as to when to do nest checks (and when it would be best to lower the house if we decide to open a third compartment). My wife and I were just talking this afternoon about where the martins all disappear to in the afternoon for several hours. We thought it might be to feed but they seemed to do so well here in the mornings, flying all about, climbing and diving, (reminding me of what it might have been like watching the dogfights over the UK during the Battle of Britain :) )

Again, thank you, Toy,

Gotham
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