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Thread: Purple martins

  1. #1
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    Default Purple martins

    Is anyone here a purple martin landlord? We had an old martin house up for several years, and finally, a couple of years ago, we had two pairs nest and breed. The old house was literally falling apart, and we put a new one up a couple of weeks ago. We have had about 8 scout martins arrive, and they are regularly visiting the new house, but it's still too early for them to nest. I noticed a couple of sparrows on the house this morning, and am about ready to shoot two sparrows at the moment. I have been reading about purple martins, and according to some accounts, sparrows will peck martin eggs and/or kill baby martins. Does anyone here have personal experience with this? Do I need to put on my camos and get the pellet gun out?

  2. #2
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    I'm not sure about the sparrows attacking eggs, but they are more aggressive and will crowd the martins out; same result in the end.

  3. #3
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    Thanks. They do seem fairly aggressive on first impression. A couple of the martins were trying to run the sparrows off without success.

  4. #4
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    Seems like a shame to put up a bird house to attract birds for your viewing pleasure or bug control. Then shoot birds that aren’t on your bird watching list. Try and removing there nest first, it may take a couple of attempts but they will move on if disturbed enough. After all sparrows eat unwanted insects as well as martins.
    A former neighbor had a Martin sub-division must have been fifty holes in his super size bird house told me that sparrows and martins co-exist well with each other. I never noticed much conflict with my own observation. I spent many hours watching them form the deck on the back of the house.
    The Busy Bee teaches two lessons: One is not to be idle and the other is not to get stung.

  5. #5
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    Well, I don't put up houses for bug control, but I do love watching them. One of their primary food sources is dragonflies, of which we have many, and I love watching dragonflies too. Sparrows were imported some time back, and from what I have read, they and starlings are displacing several of our native bird species. It's nothing personal against sparrows, but I would like to have more bluebirds, martins, and other native cavity nesting birds to watch. Do you not try to keep pests out of your hives?

  6. #6
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    I have Martins every year. Last year I had 30 pair, which raised 115 babies. If you have Sparrows you will have no Martins, Bluebirds, or any other bird. They are not native to the U.S. You will have to get rid of them if you want Martins to stay and raise young. For get the pellet gun, it is too easy to miss. Get the shot gun. Kill the males and the females will leave.

  7. #7
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    Tommy, thanks for the reply. Your information sounds very similar to the stuff I have been reading. We had sparrows nesting in the old house for years, and didn't realize they would keep the martins away or harm the eggs and young martins. For the last couple of years, the sparrows have been sparse, and we finally had some martins nest and rear their young. They are such fun to watch, and beautiful to listen to.

  8. #8
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    Ed, KA9CTT profanity is IGNORANCE made audible
    you can`t fix stupid not even with duct tape

  9. #9
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  10. #10
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    honeyman, the site you linked has a great discussion forum feature. I've already gotten a few ideas.

    Wow dcross, I missed that one, but it kind of reinforces my resolve. I've thought about building bluebird boxes too, because we see them from time to time. I never guessed that innocent looking little sparrows could be such an agressive bird. I have a wren here who nests in my garden shed every year for the past three. This year, I planned to block her entrance point, but got around to it too late, and she's already sitting on eggs (or so I think), so I'll have to do it in the heat of summer after she's gone or in the dead of winter before she's here because we don't get much for fall weather.

  11. #11
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    I am a long time martin landlord, getting ready for them to show up. THey should be here in about a month. I can't wait to see them again, makes me so happy!

    You must kill the English Sparrows and starlings. I use pellet gun.

    I use natural gourds from Mississippi. Here is link to site that tells you how to make the nests etc. http://home.earthlink.net/~chuckabare/

    This year I will have a total of 32 gourds at 2 different locations.

    Good luck!

    p.s. also if you get tree swallows then move the gourd the tree swallows are in to a different spot as they are territorial. I also have several nests each year of tree swallows, on theother side of the pond from the martin colony though. Wren's usually nest in trees, I have a few gourds up for them in the trees. Bluebirds are a different matter, they need to be out in th eopen. This winter a friend and I built 20 bluebird houses, still waiting for them to come too.
    Last edited by BerkeyDavid; 04-03-2007 at 02:26 PM. Reason: added postscript

  12. #12
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    David, I just planted some gourd seeds and plan to make some gourd houses for next year. What we have up now is just a standard house. Do you trap then kill S&S or how do you take care of that problem? Does gunfire scare off the martins? Do you shoot them on the wing? Just trying to get a good idea of the best control method. What would lure sparrows away from the house (ie birdfeeder with specific type of food?) We would like to lure them to a place where shooting is safe and won't scare the PM's. Thanks for any information.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by dragonfly View Post
    David, I just planted some gourd seeds and plan to make some gourd houses for next year. What we have up now is just a standard house. Do you trap then kill S&S or how do you take care of that problem? Does gunfire scare off the martins? Do you shoot them on the wing? Just trying to get a good idea of the best control method. What would lure sparrows away from the house (ie birdfeeder with specific type of food?) We would like to lure them to a place where shooting is safe and won't scare the PM's. Thanks for any information.

    I shoot them on site. I have a .20 pump pellet gun with a scope. I used to use a cheap daisy bb gun but my eyesight got worse or something, anyway once you get the pellet gun and scope sighted in you will be able to pick them off pretty well. This is close to what I have:

    http://www.airgunwarehouseinc.com/beleprokit.html

    Many good reasons for using a for pellet gun:
    1 you can shoot it without worrying about the projectile traveling a long distance and causing harm to people or property
    2 it is quiet
    3 it is cheap (compared to other firearms and ammo)
    4 it does the job quickly and humanely
    5 if you miss it doesn't cause much damage to the birdhouse, just a small hole.

    If you have a trio try to get them when they are perched on a corner or on the top.

    Once the colony gets started it is easier to control the sparrows and starlings, you still have to shoot them every now and then but generally just do a weekly nest check and if they have started a nest (you can tell the difference in the PM and SS nests easily) just rip out the nest and get your gun and wait for them to come back, then pick 'em off.

    The noise of the pellet gun will not scare off the martins.

    I don't know how to lure them away, but I suppose any kind of bird seed would do it.

  14. #14
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    Thanks David. I put up a cheap bird feeder with millet in it to try to lure them a couple of days ago. I noticed a bird at it this morning, but it flew away, and I couldn't tell for sure if it was a sparrow. I'm going to buy or try to build a ground trap, but I understand it's easier to trap them in Fall and Winter. Shooting is definitely an option, but I need to get the appropriate gun. The old Benjamin DH has is not very accurate anymore. Anyway, thanks for the information, and what's a trio? Not familiar with that term as I am fairly new to being a real martin enthusiast.

  15. #15
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    Sorry, I was referring to the typical aluminum martin house I assumed you have,

    http://members.shaw.ca/purplemartin/

    They are built by a company called "Trio" I think. ANyway most of the older martin houses I have seen have been "Trios."

    So what I meant is that you wait until the sparrow is perched on the top, or corner, of the house, then shoot them.

    If you trap them try to avoid the urge to simply let them go. Sadly, they need to die.

  16. #16
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    Oh, thanks. You are correct in assuming we have an aluminum house, and I wasn't aware that Trio was a manufacturer. I was just afraid that shooting toward the martin house would scare off the martins.

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