Couple First-Timer Questions about the "Aftermath"

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MJM
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon May 24, 2021 7:41 am
Location: Lexington, KY

Hi guys, first time being a (reluctant) landlord! Some quick questions I had for ending the season if you'd be so kind:

1. My Martins left when the babies could fly- but I still see some come and go during the day. I assume they are migrating or possibly looking for next years nests. How long should I leave the house up?

2. I read people clean out their houses. Why wouldn't I just leave the mud nests in there until next year and save those Martins some time?

3. I know there is no guarantee the birds will return next year, but since I did have them- should I plan to put out more houses for next year? The are I am in is just covered in Martins (meaning pretty much everyone on the road has thriving houses, which is likely why my house was occupied as soon as I put it out).
Conrad Baker
Posts: 453
Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2007 7:43 pm
Location: Paulina, Louisiana

I don't clean the mud out of the houses (small residue is left near door and on corners). I remove the nests, since most are full of poop and other stuff I don't want to leave in there. At the beginning of next season I will add clean nest material (pine needles), and Sevin dust right before I put them back up.
MJM
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon May 24, 2021 7:41 am
Location: Lexington, KY

Conrad Baker wrote:
Mon Aug 09, 2021 8:32 am
I don't clean the mud out of the houses (small residue is left near door and on corners). I remove the nests, since most are full of poop and other stuff I don't want to leave in there. At the beginning of next season I will add clean nest material (pine needles), and Sevin dust right before I put them back up.
Ok thanks. I will pull the house apart when I take it down and inspect for gross-ness. :)

I didn't know about the seven dust. Is that even safe? I've kept chickens a long time and there is dust specifically made for birds that kills mites. I imagine it would work for martins... Seven is just some seriously strong stuff!

Poultry dust is only $6 at Tractor Supply and is safe to even put on the animals directly. I know it wipes out the chicken lice like crazy!

https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/produ ... M4QAvD_BwE
C.C.Martins
Posts: 1308
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

Congrats on your martins! Unless you were at 100% occupied id not sweat more houses but you sure could...its the martin disease, its a what you can safely manage question.
Echo Conrad. Best to take out all the old stuff, it gets matted and a real mess. Put in new nesting material when putting houses up next year. Who knows they may not use mud dams next year, iv never seen them at our site. We tend to smear a bit of mud at the entrances to make them look used for next year.

Never heard of the poultry dust, no surprise there...i havnt looked for anything else besides sevin. Just ignorant that way I guess.
id imagine the active ingredients are the same? Iv been using sevin for years, just a half or quarter teaspoon is enough, applied when they first arrive. Just put a bit under the nest, or if its finished raining and warm the mites can bloom into huge numbers, apply then too. They can get pretty bad, this year I was checking a nest, plugged it to keep chicks in. Did the check, didnt notice mites. Pulled the plug and stuck it in my pocket...it was covered with mites. They were in the tunnel!

When they have chicks, look to reapply.
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
MJM
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon May 24, 2021 7:41 am
Location: Lexington, KY

Thank you CC. I think the poultry dust is likely the same as Seven, yes- but maybe less harsh.

I don't think my house was "full" but here's a picture of it... seemed pretty full to me. I counted 24 birds on it, but only 6 actual nests.

I think I'll put up another more modern house anyway, as this one has no way to lower it, nor if you do get it to the ground, any way into the compartments without literally dismantling the whole house. Looks nice though... didn't really expect them to use it.
IMG_0199.jpg
IMG_0199.jpg (140.4 KiB) Viewed 12518 times
scottfreidhof
Posts: 270
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:13 am
Location: Kentucky/Morehead

There is a pre-migratory roost in central Kentucky each year comprised of tens of thousands of martins. The roost forms in late July as birds complete nesting and continues towards the end of August before the birds head south. What you are observing right now are birds returning to your yard each morning from the roost site. More than likely they are birds that nested in your yard. This year the roost is in Richmond but is difficult to observe because it is on private land. As an alternative to the roost, the birds stage each evening at Lake Reba beginning around 7:00 pm before heading to the roost sometime after 8:00 pm. You could see 500 to 1,000 birds at Lake Reba perched on the power lines or swirling out over the lake. Makes for a great show.

Cleaning out old nests is important to reduce parasites before the birds return next spring. I have at times waited until early March to remove old nests from my gourds. Too many times I have witnessed hundreds of avian fleas emerge from the nesting material and that is per nest. The bugs are waiting for that first returning martin to touch down. If you cannot clean out nests from your current house, maybe just add some of your poultry dust. Apply to each cavity not just the cavities with nests because the mites move throughout the housing.
C.C.Martins
Posts: 1308
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

Ok, thanks for the pictures, its more clear now. I seem to remember this!
Seems the martins picked you! Lucky lucky, now they will return for life.
So with that in mind and because you cannot really manage a colony with that house (trust me, i know the challenges with a heath), here are some ideas:
Keep the house and gourds up for next season, when they return they will be looking for that house. Plug all the holes except the upper 6...you can't get to it anyway but they like to nest up high so its fine. Or lower 6, if I remember right they were able to get into other cavities because no guard under the roof? Anyway your choice.

Purchase a new house (not like that one, avoid heath houses) or a gourd system. Place it close to the old one 20 feet or so. Can start small with the gourds if you go that way...offer 6, but they are expandable to 12 or 18 gourds.
That way the martins will gravitate to the other house and you won't have the entire colony leaving if you just change everything on them...when they return they expect it to be just as it was.
Put up a predator guard on them both though. And snake netting.
Then in 2023 take the old one down for good.
I'm sure you will have lots of suggestions, do what you can for the martins and yourself, you will really enjoy being a landlord to the fullest.
Ps: Scott had some good ideas, no way to clean all that out if you can't get to it. Dust what you can to kill the bugs.
Tom
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
MJM
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon May 24, 2021 7:41 am
Location: Lexington, KY

Thank you very much both of you. I can clean the insides once I pull it down, so I will do that for sure. I'll likely invest in another house- or I am actually really handy and may just build a martin house from some of those cool old plans I see around. Would be a fun winter project. :)
C.C.Martins
Posts: 1308
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

Sure like to see it when its done, iv always admired the craftsmanship that goes into a good house.
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
brent
Posts: 502
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:43 pm
Location: Raceland, Louisiana

Just to add my 2 cents. Once the martins are gone I remove the nest trays (nest and all) and take the hose and nozzle and blast out the compartment with fresh water. I then take a towel and some mild detergent and wipe down the entire house in and out. Then hose it down again. I clean each nest tray. Dry them out and store them. The houses are lowered and the entrances plugged. Then next year replace the trays and fill them with pine needles. Add a little sevin. Houses go up. A new season begins.
Brent
bwenger
Posts: 1055
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: Pennsylvania/Espyville/Pymatuning Reservoir Area
Martin Colony History: Taking care of 11 active public colonies and trying to start two more in northwestern PA. Also attempting to restart another one in southwestern PA, in Collier Township's Hilltop Park. In 2017, not sure what happened but the ASY male returned and then a couple of weeks later he was gone. It could have been weather related. No other birds showed up. I had a starling nesting at the Public site that I had trouble getting rid of.
In 2018, we fledged 629 martins at all of the sites.

Nice looking site! Congratulations on becoming a purple martin landlord.

As it was mentioned by other landlords, leave this house up until other birds have started to nest in your new housing!

Good luck next year!
Bill Wenger

Building the Purple Martin population one bird at a time!
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