Predator Proof Cage

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ASYmartin
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2021 8:59 am
Location: Atlanta, Ga

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Hi all.
I am an old PMCA member close to Atlanta, Ga that started a martin colony in 1998. I found this site the same year and learned all I could about martins from the experienced forum members. I bought a 12 gourd (round pole) rack from PMCA and as I live in a very rural place with a huge pasture with wooded raw land behind me, I had instant success with starting a martin colony.
I had about 80 percent occupancy the first year and was sailing along mid season when disaster struck. I got up one morning and my site had been instantly abandoned. I found some martin feathers under the rack and it was pretty obvious I had a major owl attack during the night and my martins were gone.
I was totally distraught, but got on PMCA forum, shared my story and got a lot of support and suggestions, such as playing music at night, which i implemented, but nothing I thought would make my site predator proof.
I came up with idea for the next season of enclosing my gourd rack in wire to eliminate the possibility of owls/hawks reaching the gourds and stumbled upon this solution that has worked for me since 1999. It is galvanized 2" x 4" wire, extended 12 inches in a circle from the mouth of the gourds. With wire on the top and bottom of rack, too, I have complete enclosure. I was worried the wire would scare the martins and it did at first. They would land on the wire, but wouldn't jump through to the gourds, but didn't take long for them to figure it out and when they did, they loved it.
I have enclosed a pic of one of my racks that has been in service since 2005. The only drawback of this setup is the added weight (about 30 lbs.) of the support piping (EMT pipe) and the wire, but it isn't enough to be a real bother. Also the plastic zip ties for securing connections, need replacing yearly.
Along with playing music at night, with the baffle for ground kritters and bird netting for the 3 or 4 rat snakes I catch every season, I have not had any predatory attacks.
I wanted to share this on the forum to maybe help others that have experienced the heartbreak of an attack. Good luck to all!
Whippy
Posts: 856
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:15 pm
Location: Plano, Texas
Martin Colony History: See Signature

ASYMartin,

Looks like you're going to have some really happy martins. Great Job.

You mentioned replacing zip ties every year and I wonder if you are able to use hog rings in place of the zip ties. I couldn't get a real close up look to see if they would work but thought I'd throw that at ya as a possibility.

Thanks for the photo.

Coolwhips
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
ASYmartin
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2021 8:59 am
Location: Atlanta, Ga

I use the zip ties as they are light and efficient. I pull down all my racks after each season, store gourds in garage and do routine maintenance on each rack. No biggie changing out the zip ties, but if something else works for you, all the better.
brent
Posts: 450
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:43 pm
Location: Raceland, Louisiana

Does it rest on the gourd rack and go up and down when you nest check? I have Trendsetter houses and don't know how I can do it.
Brent
ASYmartin
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2021 8:59 am
Location: Atlanta, Ga

Hey Brent
Yes, the cage is attached to six of the gourd rods on rack and travel up and down as one unit.
C.C.Martins
Posts: 1118
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- didnt know anything about martins, put up an all wrong house in 2016 and had two come by and inspect all the cavities. Left soon after not to return. Learned what i could on PMCA made adjustments and next year was successful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021:
Home colony: mix natural gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satelite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 gourds: PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mino castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021:
PMCA member

Wow! Sorry you had to go through that, your set up as a look of determination. And safe, secure martins. Glad your martins adjusted; just curious, how long did it take for them to re-establish?

Tom
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
ASYmartin
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2021 8:59 am
Location: Atlanta, Ga

Tom, I had 10 nesting pair of martins the next season, but I could tell they were all new birds because every one of them had to learn to negotiate the wire cage. Once that is done they navigate through the wire like its not even there.
C.C.Martins
Posts: 1118
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- didnt know anything about martins, put up an all wrong house in 2016 and had two come by and inspect all the cavities. Left soon after not to return. Learned what i could on PMCA made adjustments and next year was successful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021:
Home colony: mix natural gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satelite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 gourds: PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mino castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021:
PMCA member

Well, great! Must have been horrible. Owls are a big problem, seems the avian predators escape our efforts and really damage a colony.

Except your fix will inspire others to combat that problem.

Tom
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
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