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Thread: Purple Martin?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Edmonton AB Canada
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    Default Purple Martin?

    Hi all!
    I'm trying to attract them but the last two seasons a pair abandoned the house after about 2 or 3 weeks, they nested with 2 eggs then left, that was the first year,
    last year's I haven't opened yet but it was a very similar event.

    Question:
    Could the house be too close to the hives, I have 5 hives about 20 yards away and within flight path,..I'm thinking it was getting too much for the Martin's?

    Any thoughts?

    House is mounted on a 4" x 4" x 8 foot long post, winched up pretty high
    http://i25.photobucket.com/albums/c9...ps43ec2911.jpg
    Grow shrubs & trees,...it's good for bees!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    If your Martin is within the flight path of your honey bees then there is some kind of a disruption to the birds.
    I don't know much about this bird. But if they like peace and quiet to raise their young, I am sure they would, then
    the bees might interrupt with their nestling. Consider the bees foraging area is within 3 miles. Is there anyway you can put them further apart? If not then perhaps to put them facing opposite direction so their flight path not crossing each other. If the swarm or bees not flying
    to the young birds then they should be able to accept otherwise consider a new relocation.

  3. #3
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    Outagamie County, Wisconsin USA
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    Purple martins are community birds. Was that the only pair you had so far? Where any other birds like starlings or sparrows trying to take over the house? Hope the bees weren't the problem.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    Oh, even worse. Community like the pigeons, ducks and geese, eh?
    Then if one fly all will fly together. I would definitely guess they don't like the bees then.
    But if they go separate way to nest then I think it is fine. Still, taking the bees out of their
    flight path is better.

  5. #5
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    Bertie County,NC
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    Konrad,

    The first thing that alarms me is the height of your house. Purple martins will build and live in houses as low as 8 feet, but that is actually several feet to low to be attractive to them.

    you will have much more success with Martin Houses between 12 to 16 feet high. I always put mine as close to 14 feet as I can get. The apartment type of houses will work for martins, However over the years I have found it impossible to attract them to a new PLASTIC apartment style of house. I am sure others have succeeded at it, but I have been unable. I have had there homes since being an adult, and I have had returning successful colonies of martins at each place. Last year was my first beekeeping year, but the bees and martins seemed fine together. I would think it may be possible to get them to nest in a plastic apartment after you get the colony established with a wooden apartment or a group of gourds.

    These are a few things I have learned about attracting them.

    Box height- 12-16 ft
    compartment size = 6"x6"x6"
    They do not have to have a "porch" , but on apartment types I think they help
    Hole size = 2 1x8"
    ventilation is important
    they prefer a white house
    they actually prefer small individually houses like gourds or small wooden house hanging so they swing a bit in the wind ( also starlings do not like the swinging)
    The houses need to be out in the open where the martins can fly right in without flying around obstacles like trees
    MAKE sure you keep other birds from nesting there until you get an established martin colony....once martins take up residence, they will pretty much take care of it. ( You may have to help combat those dang starlings every year)
    be patient, sometimes it takes a couple of years to attract them to a brand new location

    One more thing....the first birds that show up each year are just the scouts....after they come and stay a few days or a week, they will leave and often times when and if they return, that is when the colony actually comes.

    I am not an expert but I LOVE PURLE MARTINS.....can you tell? lol

    PS: I just looked at the photo....that is a very nice box. Is it plastic or wood?..and the entrances are what is recommended for martins, but personally I think they like round holes better. The height may very well be your biggest problem.
    Last edited by NewJoe; 03-18-2013 at 05:50 AM. Reason: I just looked at the photo

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    Don't recall exactly, but remember reading that each apartment should be ?12 inches deep. If it is not, predatory birds such as owls, magpies etc will insert their leg/claw and kill adults and young.
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    You have bees and you want purple martins?
    Are you raising bees for the purple martins?

    I am pretty sure they don’t mind the bees I will bet they are happy snacking on them whenever they want.
    I read a post a year back about a beek trying to get rid of them cause they were non stop eating bees.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    I agree with FlowerPlanter.Decide on which you want to keep.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Greenville, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    I keep both on my 1/2 acre lot with no problems ...since 2005.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    They eat 2200 mosquitoes a day.

    How many bees does that equate to?

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    Following is a quote from link in my last post. Purple martins eat a number of flying insects and fewer mosquitos than many think.

    "6. What do Purple Martins eat? Purple Martins are obligate aerial insectivores, which is a fancy way of saying they eat only flying insects, and they take them only on the wing, not off the ground. Martins eat beetles, flies, dragonflies, midges, mayflies, bees, stinkbugs, cicadas, flying ants, damselflies, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, and wasps. Martins are generalists, and do not specialize in taking just one or two types of insects, to the exclusion of others. Martins drink and bathe while skimming over the surfaces of bodies of water. Purple Martins do not eat huge quantities of mosquitoes, despite what some martin house manufacturers claim (this fraudulent claim is used to market their products). See Update issue 2(3), "The Relationship of Purple Martins to Mosquito Control": http://www.purplemartin.org/update/MosCont.html"
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    They eat 2200 mosquitoes a day.

    How many bees does that equate to?
    The guy that perpetuated that fallacy was in the business of selling purple martin houses.

    OP, it sounds like your original pair may have been a victim of predation. It is strange, but once a colony is preyed upon martins will avoid the housing for a long time...how future generations know of the "massacre" I have no idea.

    A 10" diameter or better gourd is the best housing. SREH (starling resistant entrance holes) which are half-mooned shape are best at keeping starlings out of the cavities so they can't kill the martins.

    I'm pondering my colony situation. My 16-gourd rack had been up all winter (I failed to lower in) and crashed during a storm...the swivel on a pulley gave way. Needless to say it destroyed the rack that had been there for 10+ years. I haven't built another rack yet (still gotta figure out how to get it up 18' and onto the pole, too) so I strung up the gourds between two low posts...basically 14 supergourds hanging at about 6' high. So for I haven't see but one martin this year...a high flying female or a yearling male. In years past they would first show up on February 2nd. Since I established this colony I established another one at my mother's house about 1/4 mile away...her neighbor across the draw erected a couple of houses....in the last few years all cavities have been filled. I haven't seen martins at either of these two locations yet, either. ???

    My wife loves their warbling song. I'm not sure what is going on with them...if they're just late or something worse. I'm also not sure whether to be sad or glad.

    Ed

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    Thank you all!
    Flight path is about the same as bees,..away from the trees/bush.
    The first year, house had double compartments, ....something like 6"x6" and was on a wooden post about
    10 foot up. Figured, a predator might bother them going up the post, I then doubled up the room size
    to make it 12", ...as somebody told me to and put it on a steel post. Entrance is a standard SREH hole, no other birds I have seen.
    Yes,..it might just be that it can take several years to get them, I might put another, [different house] beside this one.
    Since it's on a winch I can add as needed. Just today, I got a email from a birder, he said, to put straw in and or smear
    a little with mud on entrance, so they think that it is a occupied house. I did put in some wooden chips [pet shavings].
    To get the first one's in is the hardest, most often, these are the young from last year and sometimes they practice a little.
    Grow shrubs & trees,...it's good for bees!

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    Ditto on what your birder friend....put some straw in the compartments....a little mud dabbed around the opening. Good deal on the SREH's but be on the look out for European House Finches (common trashbird sparrows...the kind that walk around with a french fry in their mouth at McDonalds). Those flying mice will invade a cavity and peck eggs and nestlings to death. They are an invasive species and just as deadly to all native cavity nesters as starlings are. It may very well take years for you to get a nesting pair being as the martin numbers decrease the farther north they go being as many are finding nesting sites along the way. From what I understand it takes dedication up where you're at to landlord purple martins...a tip of the hat to you! You may also want to get a CD with the dawn song on it and use it as a lure....I did this my first year and actually had martins fly down to the cd-player for a closer look! You might want to build an elevated platform close to your house to put oyster shell on...keeps them from being on the ground so much where cats and other predators are. Do you have any problems with snakes up there?

    You're right...the hardest ones to get is the first pair.

    Best wishes,
    Ed

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    Good idea with the CD song. Put a wired speaker up the metal pole (no snake can get up there) to play the song. A small cd player on a solar charger will work day and night.
    Can you cage them and raise them like the parrots?

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    These are wild, migratory birds that are protected by several nations. Cage them...

    As for the placement of a speaker....sitting on the ground is good.

    And, as for a snake getting up a metal pole....snakes can climb a pole rather quickly. On two seperate occasions I've found a snake laying draped over the cross-arms of my rack...and this was with a stove pipe predator guard on the pole. Long pole and some poking and down on the ground they came...to be put in a bag and carried a distance away from the colony. I've heard of folks putting grease on the poles and the snakes still able to climb the poles. A stove pipe / baffle type of guard is the best...just be sure you get the guard high enough off the ground so the snake can't circumvent it.

    Ed

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    Thanks, I still have a lot to learn about birds too. I am thinking a pole shape like V so the higher they go
    the more slippery it gets. So eventually the snake will fall down.

  19. #19
    Join Date
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    Edmonton AB Canada
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    Thank you all for the advise!
    No snake I've ever seen there, we got the odd little Garter snake but I don't think they can climb this metal pole
    or pray on birds.
    Grow shrubs & trees,...it's good for bees!

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Purple Martin?

    No problems with the garter snakes, Konrad. Mostly down here we deal with chicken/rat snakes...they *are* some climbing critters!!!

    beepro, are you talking about a flared pole? I'm having a little problem understanding what you're talking about.

    Ed

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