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Country Discussion Topics
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Purple Martin babies
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Mike taylor    Posted 06-12-2002 at 19:05:50       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Had something wierd happen this year with my martins. All the babies came out to early. None could fly. Needed about another 2 weeks. I've raised martins for 15+ years and have never seen this happen before. All the adults left today and at an hour past dusk they have yet to show up.

I'm stumped???? Box is aluminum and this is the 10th year I've had it up. Each year the box has raised a house full. Not as hot this year as previous years. I see no sign of bees or wasps.

I'm west of Houston Texas.


Nathan(GA)    Posted 06-12-2002 at 20:00:52       [Reply]  [No Email]
Mike, Mine have done that when it gets real hot, but you say not as hot. Any snakes up there? Have you put any dust in for parisites? I haven't in the last few years. I don't know.


Mike taylor    Posted 06-12-2002 at 20:22:57       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Nathan - Have never dusted, but I wash and disinfect the box each February when I put it up. Down here, I try to get the box up by Valentines day. It has been 97-98 degrees here the last few days. But, I've seen them in the past have no problems with 100 degree days.

The pole is 1.5" painted steel pipe 20' tall. I've wondering if fire ants could have crawled up the center of the pipe?? The pipe is secured to the ground with a 4x4 post and they could get in from the bottom of the pipe.


Nathan(GA)    Posted 06-12-2002 at 20:34:00       [Reply]  [No Email]
I guess that's possible. If so, you should see some activity on the ground though.

Sparrows give mine a hard time at the first of the season, but I guess the martins win. They have a no vacancy sign out.

I've got about 40 more I want to put up next year.


Mike Taylor    Posted 06-13-2002 at 09:31:49       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Took the house down this morning. Man, it was crawling alive with lice. Inside walls were black with them. There were no babies in the house at all so I sprayed it with diazonon then cleaned it out and scrubbed it with Lysol.

Next year when I put up the house, is there anything I can do to control the lice??

There were no fire ants.

On building martin boxes - If you live in hot country (like south Texas) I think the thin aluminum boxes are best. Wooden boxes build up to much residual heat and cook the babies. I tried that and had no success what so ever. I bought the aluminum box at a hardware store. Have always raised a house full with it. Wooden boxes in OKLA were no problem. But, they have to be paintes white INSIDE and out. And, they have to be thoroughly cleaned at the start of each season.


Nathan(GA)    Posted 06-13-2002 at 13:21:24       [Reply]  [No Email]
Well, that's a bummer Mike. At least you found the reason, I'm pretty sure. My Grandpa always put a little sprinkle of sevin dust in his gourds.

I haven't done it in a few years. Been lucky I guess. I must get off my butt on that this winter!


Mike Taylor    Posted 06-13-2002 at 19:16:48       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Nathan - I love watching the Martins. Plus, the mosquito population really takes a dive when they are here (Mar, Apr, May, June, and 1st part of July)

I'll have to try the Sevin dust bit next year. Is there any other dust that would last longer / work better? I wonder if there might be a ring that could line the hole? That way, everytime the bird went in the hole they'd get more on them.

I have always painted the inside of the houses I built white. But, just because that is what I was told to do.

I think I paid $45 for the 12 holer aluminum box. Lasts forever and easy to clean and disinfect. Also easy to raise and lower.


Nathan(GA)    Posted 06-13-2002 at 19:33:38       [Reply]  [No Email]
Probably is something else, but I don't know for sure. Never thought about something at the hole. Wonder if it would scare 'em away.

$45 is cheaper than the one I looked at. Do you have yours on a folding pole or what? I've got to redo both mine this winter. I've got 12 gourds on each pole. I'm gonna go two story on the pole, 24 gourds and make it to fold over at the base.


mikr taylor    Posted 06-14-2002 at 20:02:38       [Reply]  [Send Email]
i dug a post hole and stuck a treated 4x4 in it with about 3' above ground. I clamp the pipe to the post with a couple of u-bolts. But, the lower u-bolt has one leg cut off so that it swivles. I rotate the pipe left or right to get the box down. I lay the pipe down on a saw horse to open and clean out the box. It is very convenient and easy to get down.

I read today that the preferred way to control mites in martin boxes was to clean out the old nest after the babies have hatched! Do one hole at a time. Put the babies in a shoe box, pull out the old nest, and substitute with soft material. Just don't forget to put the babies back in!

I think next year I will just spray some insectcide from the ground up into the holes using a hose sprayer. Enough should get in to do the job and the upward direction of the spray should avoid directly hitting the babies. I wonder what kind could be used that mixes with water??? Sevin??


BillW    Posted 06-14-2002 at 10:52:10       [Reply]  [Send Email]
What size hole do you make in the gourds and at what position do you put it?


Nathan(GA)    Posted 06-14-2002 at 12:40:38       [Reply]  [No Email]
2 1/8" These plastic ones come with the hole already in place. On the natural ones, I put it so the top of the hole is just before the slope to the neck. Be sure to put a few drain holes in the bottom. I put about 4 holes 1/4" - 3/8".

It's a job cleaning all the seeds and junk out of a natural gourd!


Vince    Posted 06-13-2002 at 07:06:52       [Reply]  [Send Email]
40 more Martin houses? Do you build them yourself? Is there a pattern for building them somewhere that I can get? I would love to build a Purple Martin house.


Nathan, Hey Vince and Scott    Posted 06-13-2002 at 13:27:07       [Reply]  [No Email]
I use gourds. Natural work the best, but I have a bunch of plastic ones that I caught about 75% off. I already had about 24. Now about 50 more.

The problem with the plastic ones I have is they let too much light through. And the paint isn't staying too well. Martins like it dark inside. In fact they wouldn't even nest in the ones I didn't paint to block the light. The newer style plastic ones have a different composition and block the light.

I like that style Mike is talking about, but the ones I looked at were pretty expensive.


Scott Hansen    Posted 06-13-2002 at 11:56:08       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I would like that too. If you have info, please post it!


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