Styrofoam Gourds/Chalets Also Work Great For Martins

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Bernie Nikolai
Posts: 402
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 7:44 pm
Location: Edmonton, Alberta

Since I had a few private emails in the last day or two about styrofoam chalets/gourds, I thought I'd give a quick summary of my experiments in this area as well, to add to my earlier post/photos on styrofoam apartment housing. In a nutshell individual styrofoam chalets work very well and are accepted readily by martins from what I saw. These chalets are hung as individual houses, similar to hanging gourds, on a gourd rack. I made two versions:

The first model is a boxlike chalet, 7"x13" inside dimensions, 6" high. At my colony I glued two to the top of a styrofoam apartment house, and both were taken by martins and fledged young. 5 of 6 other chalets of this model were chosen by martins in Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas, and successfully fledged young this year. The back comes off for nest checks. The problem with this model is it is hard to hang properly having a flat roof, and also, because it is so lightweight, with a good amount of wind resistance, they sway too much in the wind, unless attached securely by the base and not allowed to hang freely like a gourd.

The second model seems better accepted by martins, and overcomes the above limitations. Enclosed are photos of my "Stovepipe Horizontal Styrofoam Gourds" which are simply insulated and painted stovepipe arched over a styrofoam base, with styrofoam ends. A number of folks have been testing horizontal 6" pvc pipe gourds, and report that the martins really, really like them. This is a version of these, but with a flat floor, and insulation on the inside of the metal arched roof. Also several reports seem to indicate martins prefer tunnels to their gourds/chalets, perhaps because the male can wedge his body in the tunnel in spring and defend his compartment from other martins/sparrows, etc. more effectively. So this version has a tunnel with WDC entrances and a double porch.

These stovepipe gourds are only about $1 in materials, not counting any special entrances/access ports you might buy, and were the very first gourds chosen by my martins. The inside of the metal arch is insulated with a/ "Fiberdecore" roll on insulation, or b/ Great Stuff insulation or c/ an indoor/outdoor brown carpet glued to the inside arch with ppca adhesive. I'd estimate the roof would be as well insulated as about 1" of cedar, while the floor and ends are the insulation equivalent of 5" of cedar.

Oh, and to apply the Great Stuff insulation, you first clean the inside of the stovepipe with TSP or an ammonia degreaser, scour the inside with sandpaper, and add a softball sized glob of foam insulation sprayed from the can. With your hand in a plastic bag, you smush the expanded foam and coat the inside of the metal arch with the residue, which will look sort of like you have applied honey when you finish. Overnight the foam coating will expand a second time, to about 1/4". You then spraypaint with Krylon Fusion paint (brown or dark green) and the inside metal arch is insulated as well as darkened! The paint or the insulation hasn't come off yet in any plastic gourds I have done this way in the last two years.
He who harbors the nesting bird shall have health and happiness all the year
Guest

Bernie,

Don't want to change teh subject but could you use PPCA to glue cork to wood? How about cork to plastic? Any other type glue/contact cement you would recommend for this in a martin house?
Bernie Nikolai
Posts: 402
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 7:44 pm
Location: Edmonton, Alberta

Hi Hogwild, ppca works great on wood and I'm sure on cork as well. It works great on plastic, as long as the plastic is "degreased" with TSP or ammonia cleaners and scratched.

The very best of all is epoxy. This is a type of glue where you mix 1 part of A to 5 parts of B, stir, and apply. This does NOT eat styrofoam, and if you cover styrofoam with fiberglass cloth and then a couple of layers of epoxy, you have an extremely strong coating that adheres really well. At the boatbuilding kit store where I bought the epoxy, the owner showed me a small, one man kayak he had built out of thin plywood. The thin plywood had a coating of fibreglass cloth covered with epoxy. He weighed over 200 lbs, but he proped and supported the kayak on two sawhorses at the tips, and STOOD in the middle of the kayak, which held together perfectly. So the fiberglass cloth/epoxy is incredibly strong and tough stuff, adheres amazingly well to wood or styrofoam, but you need to cover it with a paint as it is not uv resistant and will "yellow" if left out in the sun unprotected.
He who harbors the nesting bird shall have health and happiness all the year
Bob Buskas
Posts: 600
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2003 8:08 pm
Location: Wetaskiwin Alberta, Canada

Bernie gave me one of his Styrofoam chalets to try this season. I fastened it to a power pole stationary using a 2x2 on the bottom. The few SY birds that returned this year showed a great deal of interest in it. More interest than the 12 horizontal gourds I have on a rack only 50 feet away. I think Bernie is onto something here that will work great especially in the North as our Martins in western Canada really don't use gourds much. I think mostly because the houses are warmer. These chalets are a good alternative to wooden houses and they must be offered more to the Martins for testing. Good Luck with this Bernie! Hopefully more landlords will test these chalets in the future.
Bob Buskas, Alberta, Canada (The Northern Sky's Colony) Supplimental feeding is the key during bad weather, but you must train them to feed ahead of time.
Guest

Bernie,

Have never used an epoxy that was 5 part resin to 1 part hardner. Have used 1:1 ratio and 2:1 ratio. Any significance to the 5:1 ratio? The 1:1 epoxy is very thick and difficult to get thin, even coverage.

I have diluted epoxy with denatured alcohol to make it thinner. I used this many times when building radio controlled airplanes. We painted the firewall with thinned epoxy to waterproof and fuel proof it. This kept the firewall lightweight and prevented the plywood layers from seperating due to swelling. It would work well to waterproof wood on a martin house while adding a minimum amount of weight. The thinned epoxy tends to soak into and fill the pores of the wood sealing them against moisture. You can thin it quite a bit, 5:1 or even more. May take a couple of coats if you get it too thin.
Guest

HogWild,

The only epoxy I've ever used was 5:1 by weight mixture, although it wasn't for an application like we're discussing.

The stuff is called Epoxicure, and is made by Buehler. It's used for metallurgical analysis purposes: embedding a metal sample in a clear cylinder of epoxy for examination.
yvesquad

Bernie.....!!

This is great stuff !!!! Many TNX for sharing your experiences with us.

Has I can see from a non experience guy like me, PM are well attracted from well insulated compartments and has much dark as possible on the inside......

All or almost all houses sold on the market have venting holes for ventulating the inside of compartment, and they bring lots of light inside,
what you are saying is they should be blocked for less light on the inside,
and the inside should be insulated with any kind of insulating stuff you can get and work with......
If the inside is painted with dark paint, it's a + for you.

Well, for the aluminium houses at least.


Has it's for gourds, the inside must be darken as much as possible.

Bernie......

You are on to something here !!! You are changing futur thought on how PM should be attracted and raise.

Well, I will have some work to do on my houses and gourds for sure !!
Specialy here in Quebec, were temperature is a big factor for raising PM.
Large compartments is not all we need........

Bernie....TNX again

Yves
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