Getting them to Stay?

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TNMartins
Posts: 54
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Smyrna, TN

Past 2 years we’ve had Tree Swallows show up which ultimately ruined the possibility of PMs. By the time I addressed the issue it was too late and we only had visitors and no nests. I’ve solved that problem this year and the coast is clear other than standard English Sparrow issues which I have under control.

Over the past 2 weeks there has been quite a bit of PM activity with an ASY pair spending one night, a couple other ASY males hanging around, PMs sighted overhead, etc. One of the ASY males has been spending the night for about a week and coming and going during the day. Occasionally he will bring others with him and land / go into a cavity as if he’s trying to get them to follow. They will circle overhead and swoop down for a look but never land. I have Dawnsong playing daylight to dusk and just added a Songbird Magnet on top of one house, pointing straight up. We have both barns and gourds, everything painted white, decoys which I move around every few days, fresh pine needles in the cavities, mirrors inside some, mud smeared on some of the entrances, plenty of human activity around.

Anything else I can do to convince the others (i.e. a female) to join our ASY? Housing is set up in our 1 acre front yard with our house on one side and trees lining 2 other sides which are about 70’ away. Maybe this is just an inhospitable site and the others don’t like it? We’re close to success, just have to figure out the last step.

Thanks in advance for any ideas (short of cutting down our trees :-)
12 S&K B09 Gourds w/ 2 S&K barns converted to 6 cavities each

2016 - 0 visits
2017 - Few visitors late summer
2018 - 1 Pair, 5 Fledged
2019 - Visitors
2020 - Visitors
deancamp
Posts: 672
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

So you have 2 dawnsong devices playing now? I don't have experience with that and haven't heard anyone else mention it either. Maybe that is a little too much??? Everything else sounds like you've done your job. It's time to set back be patient and let your ASY male do his job now. Watch and enjoy, I will bet he finds a mate, even if it is a sy female that is yet to return.
Jeff Dean
TNMartins
Posts: 54
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Smyrna, TN

Good point on dueling dawnsongs. There seems to be multiple individuals in the recording so I’m not sure it’s a problem. It hasn’t seemed to drive away the one M who has been here this week.

The Bird Magnet isn’t very loud at all. The other DS source I have is probably 3-4x as loud. It’s positioned in a 2nd story window aimed above the PM housing. I’ve turned it way down to more closely match the Bird Magnet.

I’m not really not clear on whether the DS helps to ‘keep’ the PMs around or just to get them to notice the housing. My thought is that with the Bird Magnet positioned high pointing at the sky, the PMs flying overhead would surely hear it.

Could the DS potentially be making the site unattractive because I’m running it all day?
12 S&K B09 Gourds w/ 2 S&K barns converted to 6 cavities each

2016 - 0 visits
2017 - Few visitors late summer
2018 - 1 Pair, 5 Fledged
2019 - Visitors
2020 - Visitors
deancamp
Posts: 672
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

Now you have opened a can of worms. :) Different people have had success by turning the dawnsong off after they have attracted their first Martin. Others have had success by continuing to play it ( as long as you can't see it affecting the Martins negatively) to help draw in more potential birds for the colony. I would suggest picking one of the dawnsong players and continuing to play it. In my opinion this could help pull in more Martins to your colony and grow it faster. I see no problem running it all day unless you are seeing a negative effect. I hope this helps.
Jeff Dean
randyM
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.

I played the dawn song CD for 2 years without having a nesting pair, but had frequent visitors (also, too many tree swallows that kept such visitors at bay). The following year I played the dawn song each day through July when I hand one nesting pair. The next year I had 4 nesting pairs, but switched to playing the daytime chatter CD each day through the nesting season. Both CD's seemed to work and the resident pairs didn't seem to mind the constant background "noise". Perhaps you could play the dawn song CD in the mornings and switch to the chatter CD during the rest of the day for a change of tempo/pace? I now only play the chatter CD during fall migration to bring in migrants for a quick visit with hope they remember my site during their northward journey the following spring and stop by to raise a family.

Good luck.
TNMartins
Posts: 54
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Smyrna, TN

Well - Our ASY M has been showing up every night. We don’t see him at all during the day but he’s slipped in silently at 7:38 - exactly sunset - the past 2 nights. Flies straight into the cavity with no sound. If you blink you miss it.

Is this common behavior?

I checked my log and Dawnsong has been playing daylight to dark since March 20. We’ve been seeing PMs since April 20. Almost none are landing - the one that does stay is in stealth mode.

Currently I have the Bird magnet running first 4 hours every day. My window speakers are running every other hour until sunset. When I’m home I start up the Bird Magnet a couple hours before sunset.

Should I change something? Maybe try a day or two without DS? I just hate the thought of missing any new PMs heading North.
12 S&K B09 Gourds w/ 2 S&K barns converted to 6 cavities each

2016 - 0 visits
2017 - Few visitors late summer
2018 - 1 Pair, 5 Fledged
2019 - Visitors
2020 - Visitors
jhcox
Posts: 553
Joined: Thu May 26, 2016 9:23 am
Location: tennesse
Martin Colony History: Started colony in 2014. 0 pairs
2015 0 pairs
2016 0 pairs
2017 0 pairs but visitors
2018 1 pair fledged 5
2019 10 pair
2020 25 pair

Put the bird magnet on a timer to run from 2 hours before dawn to dusk. This way you don't have to worry about turning it on or off or forgetting. Once you get a few more martins you will not need it. The martins will do all the calling and attracting. good luck.
TNMartins
Posts: 54
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Smyrna, TN

Good news! Our lone ASY M who has been here for 3 weeks now appears to have found a mate! They were here all morning yesterday along with another pair! Checking out all the cavities and making all kinds of racket. 1 pair is back this morning and actually defending the site from Starlings.

I can report that the dueling dawn songs don’t appear to bother the PMs. In fact they’ve spent quite a lot of time on the barn right next to the Bird Magnet. Note - The Bird Magnet is in a plastic bag on top of the barn pointing up - It’s set to about 3/4 volume as it distorts if louder.
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For those trying to start a colony and waiting for first birds to show up - don’t give up! I checked my log from last year and the visitors started showing up May 15 & 16. (1 year ago today)
Last edited by TNMartins on Sat May 15, 2021 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
12 S&K B09 Gourds w/ 2 S&K barns converted to 6 cavities each

2016 - 0 visits
2017 - Few visitors late summer
2018 - 1 Pair, 5 Fledged
2019 - Visitors
2020 - Visitors
deancamp
Posts: 672
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

That's good news and sounds very promising. Keep doing the right things and be patient. Stay observant to what you see is helping and if anything is hindering your efforts and adjust as needed.
Jeff Dean
Birdiegirl
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun May 24, 2020 7:03 pm
Location: Scott County Kentucky

I guess I’m in the same boat- just a little north of you in central KY. Yesterday our lone SY male managed to attract three SY friends. We are still playing the Dawn Song.
They checked out all the apartments and gourds- pretty sure we have the same set up you do. It’s been a flurry of activity- periods of visiting and then nothing throughout the day. We’re not sure, but we think two spent the night. They were here mighty early- before 7:00 am.
I don’t want to miss this opportunity to start a colony- it sure is hard not to get you’re hopes up! Thanks to all you landlords for the support and helpful encouragement.
RLee
Posts: 55
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2003 10:09 pm
Location: Indiana/Bloomington

Attracting martins has proven to be quite frustrating. After years of trying to attract some and playing the Dawnsong I finally got an ASY male to adopt the site and he stayed around for about a week. He attracted a female who went into his compartment and both would fly around above the house feeding and hanging out on the gourds. Then the next morning both were gone. I presume the female decided another site was best and took the male with he as they determine the suitability of a nesting site. Back to playing the Dawnsong and hoping for more visitors. Have maybe a month here in central Indiana to attract a pair for this year.
Roger Lee
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