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Attracting Purple Martins

Post in 'The Green Room' started by laynes69, May 11, 2012.

  1. laynes69

    laynes69 Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Ashland OH
    After having a buddy's father build us some gourd homes, I decided to give it a try. I'm looking for a way to keep harmful insects out of the garden as well as bring in some birds. Since Ive never done this, I'm not sure how to bring them in. We are surrounded within a few miles from the Amish and they have many birds. Currently we have 6 gourds on a telescoping pole, and looking at 6 more. I've located the houses 30-40' away from any trees on a 15' pole. If there's any tips or tricks let me know. I'm hoping to grow gourds this year and start making my own homes to get a decent sized colony. Thanks.

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  2. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Bend, OR
    My wife was an avid birder, and gradually drew me into the fascination of watching them. In Virginia, we had lots of different feeders, and thus scads of different birds in the backyard. I even learned that all birds don't eat the same types of seeds (Duh). Woodpeckers and Goldfinches don't frequent the same birdie bistro. Out here in Oregon, she once again set out a number of different kinds of feeders and regularly restocked them with the appropriate foods. In both states, the folks who were most knowledgeable and helpful were to be found in the local specialty bird food stores. They know everything about the local birds and how to attract them to your yard. It's a regional thing, no doubt about it. I'd highly recommend you go introduce yourself to some of these folks. I'm not familiar with your area, but I did a quick search for Bird Stores in/around Ashland OH and (among others) it yielded these two that look like the kind of place I'm talking about:

    http://www.wildbird.com/franchisee/akr/home

    http://northolmsted.wbu.com/

    It really can be a lot of fun getting birds into your yard...but I gotta tell ya, I spent an insane amount of money feeding them over the years. :rolleyes: There are also zillions of bird-related online resources available. My favorite is the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology:

    http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/search

    Have fun! Rick
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, it's hard to complain about a $6.00 bag of pellets when you just spent $30 for half that weight in birdseed. But I do love em being around and have planted a very bird friendly yard for them to hang out in.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    South Puget Sound, WA
    Yeah, it's hard to complain about a $6.00 bag of pellets when you just spent $30 for half that weight in birdseed. But I do love em being around and have planted a very bird friendly yard for them to hang out in.

    Laynes it sounds like you are doing all the right things. Now it takes patience. You may not get nesters this year or someone other than martins may move in. Hopefully at least they will be swallows. We have a flicker box that has twice been commandeered by starlings. :mad:
  5. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    In addition to food and shelter birds need water too.
    The outlet from our open loop ground source heat pump empty's creates a pool in our back yard that attracts far more birds than putting out food ever did.
  6. laynes69

    laynes69 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Ashland OH
    These birds are tricky, I've done a few nest tear outs in the gourds. If the swallows or starlings build nests they will overtake the houses where the martins won't come in. These birds don't eat seeds, strictly flying insects. I'll need a little more patience I guess. We have feeders for the other birds around here. If the swallows become a problem in the gourds, I'll have to place small houses around the property for them to occupy. I've read it may take 4 to 6 weeks after the first sighting of the scouts for other martins to come in. Maybe I'm just in a hurry to see them.
  7. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    Place your martin houses as far out in the open as you can, and be prepared to remove any house Sparrows or Starlings that might try to nest. I think the hanging gourd houses are a lot less attractive to House Sparrows and Starlings than other styles of houses. It can take a couple of years for Martins to colonize a new location, and your chances are best if there are existing colonies nearby.

    Tree swallows will use houses of the same dimensions as Bluebirds and should be easy to attract to other locations on the property. Once a few pairs of Tree Swallows are nesting they will keep others of their species away from nearby houses. Tree Swallows will be at least as effective as martins as capturing pest insects.

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