Dave Duit
Joined:16 Mar 2019, 00:42
Location:Nevada, Iowa
Original Join Date:Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:02 am

Post by Dave Duit » 16 Mar 2019, 16:42

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If you are new to hosting purple martins here are the basics. Please visit the links section to read details on each of the basics. Chucks Purple Martin Page in the links section holds the most information.
IF you follow these basic rules you should have a good colony of martins.
1.) Sparrow and Starling control is key to having a healthy colony of martins. Trap and shoot ALL sparrows and starlings. Change entrances to starling resistant entrance holes. This is a crescent shaped entrance exactly 1 and 3/16th inches high and 3 inches wide at the base and is 1/8 inch off the floor or porch. SREHs virtually stop starlings from killing your martins inside the nest compartment. Additional reading for sparrows go to ... yt-415.pdf

2.) Supplement feeding during cold and wet weather. Martins will die after four days of bad weather without supplement food such as scrambled eggs bits prepared without oil, crickets, mealworms. Place egg pieces, crickets or mealworms on a raised platform near your martin colony. Martins only eat flying insect. Insect don't fly in the rain and cold; so you need to feed the martins during bad weather. DETAILED FEEDING INSTRUCTIONS: Just a few pointers here on cricket flipping and training martins to take supplement food. Instead of flipping expensive crickets, start out with scrambled egg pieces until they start learning to take flipped food. (Note: when preparing scrambled eggs, be sure to not use oil, martins and birds in general have a difficult time digesting fats, especially oils.) When flipping, aim the egg pieces some distance away from the martins, about 20 feet and be sure that the eggs have a good altitude, so the martins have time to leave their perch or wire and actually be able to catch the egg piece before it hits the ground. Stand near your raised platform feeding tray when flipping, because they will eventually remember the location of the supplement food. After you have trained them to take food after a few days, start putting the scrambled eggs on the raised platform tray in addition to flipping. Don't aim the eggs directly at the martin, they will never have a chance at catching the piece. I always wear a bright hat, so they get use to correlating food with a person that looks the same each time. (Conditioned response). Some people try talking to the martins while they come out to flip and they get use to your voice. Persistence is key in training martins. Once a single martins leaves it's perch and takes a flipped egg piece, others will quickly catch on to the activity and follow the lead of this new food source. Of course, not every martin will accept supplement food, but a majority will. It is good to keep in mind that martins need to be hungry enough to consider taking supplement food, typically after two or three days of cold wet rainy weather. If martins are simply not taking food by flipping or raised platform, egg pieces and crickets can be placed just inside the nesting cavity, this allows for less energy expended on a food source. If you are putting egg pieces inside a cavity be sure to clean them out after two or three days, due to the eggs spoiling or rotting. (Crickets will be ok). A plastic spoon works wonders for flipping.

3.) Provide rinsed egg shells that are microwaved a minute and crushed in to small pieces on a platform feeder or nearby roof top. Crushed egg shells and crushed oyster shells are good for the martins egg production of strong shells and it replaces lost calcium in their bones.

4.) Provide compartments or gourds that are at least 6X6X12 inches. The bigger the better and it will produce increased egg counts. Instructions & diagram to expand metal houses: ... on-434.pdf

5.) Place your housing with 100 feet of your house and at least 40 feet from the nearest tree. The most open area is where you should place your martin housing. Trees hold predators such as hawks and owl and martins feel safer when they have an open fly zone around their house. Add owl guards or cages if you have predators in the area.

6.) Do weekly nest checks for mites or dead baby martins. If there are mites, do a nest change by removing the old infested nest, wiping down the interior of the compartment or gourd with rubbing alcohol. and sprinkle a little 5% sevin dust under your soft white pine needles. Last, place the baby martins back on top of the white pine needles. Checking the nests each week will not cause the martins to abandon their nest. Stop nest changes and checks after young have reached 20 days of age; after 2o days, the nestlings may try to fly to early after you raise the housing back up.

7.) Place a handful of soft white pine needles in each compartment or gourd being careful not to block the entrance just before your martins return in late March or early April for Iowa. White pine needles are very soft and can be raked up in the fall when they are light brown in color and stored over the winter in plastic bags. Cornell Lab of Ornithology in which our organization has been recognized had this great website link I thought you would enjoy.

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