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VS Ryan
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PostSubject: Monty's trail   Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:49 pm

Monty wrote:
I love this site too! Finally some freedom. My parents neighbor had martins for over 40 years. Six homemade aluminum houses with 24 holes in each. His colony was maxed. We lived across the road from him, and I decided to "snag" some of his birds. He didn't mind. I cleared a big area on Department of Natural Res. (DNR) ground, they never knew it wasn't ours, and began erecting martin houses.

I bought them from the Nature Society: Two Grandpas, one Trio-Wade, one Castle. I had plenty of visitors, but none ever nested. I had them up for fifteen years. Finally, I cut my losses, since I didn't live there anymore, and posted them on the Society's website for sale. A man in TX, who already has a good colony, bought them. The only thing I had asked when selling them was, that they go to someone with a good, strong colony, and I asked for photos of them in use.

He emailed me some photos of the birds that occupied the Castle. I was satisfied. I'm also happy to report that not one pair of sparrows ever nested in them.

While still at home, I would take my screens out of my east- and south-facing windows, and keep the windows cracked at all times. When I would hear starlings early in the morning, the rifle barrel snuck out the window and CRACK! down came at least one starling. There was a red-bellied woodpecker that had dug a nest hole in a maple behind the house. Once it was done, the starlings attempted to move in. Not on my watch! I heard the red-belly giving his distress call one morning, poked the barrel out. The red-belly was in the cavity and a starling was jabbing at him from the entrance. Not for long. That starling took a nose-dive to the ground soon after. I got his mate, too.

Every morning in spring, you could hear shots in a triangular pattern; either me, Russell to the north, or Jim to the northeast. Sadly, Russell is gone now. And his nephew thinks nothing of the cavities Russell used to protect with his rifle. Starlings have them now. Makes me sick.
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:49 pm

mikenlinda wrote:
Monty, where do you live now? While I am so sorry to hear that after 15 years of trying you finally gave up on the martins, it is truly wonderful that you sold the houses to another landlord!

Maybe you could try again where you live now. Did you try the Dawnsong or Daytime Chatter CD's? Did you prep the nest chambers prior to pm arrival time? Were the houses properly located?

You may have done all of these things already. One thing I know for certain is that attracting purple martins is not an exact science. None of us know exactly what triggers a wild bird to decide to move in to one particular house. I do know that persistance, research and patience often pays off...but certainly not always.

If you are interested in chatting about this, or maybe trying again, I would enjoy trying to help you any way I can. What I don't know, I would certainly be happy to find out for you. There is probably a lot I could learn from you too.

Often times people read these forums and learn much from the discussions here even if they have chosen not to participate yet. sunny
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:50 pm

Monty wrote:
Linda,

I live in a little town called Wabash, here in Indiana. Oh, there are songbirds here:cardinals, phoebes, robins, various indigenous sparrows, the cavity nesters: chickadees, titmice, nuthatches. All too few and far between considering where my parents live... in a woods.

Unfortunately for me, the only bluebirds near me are on the outskirts. Too many sparrows to battle getting into town. I did hear martins flying over last summer, but there again, too many good-intentioned people buying cheap martin housing and placing it near a tree, since "trees are where all birds nest", then starlings and/or sparrows claim it. Then, the owner says, "Well, at least ' the birds ' are using it." They have no concept of "which birds" should be using it. Just happy that "the birds" are.

Yes, I tried everything: the Dawnsong, which, I think made them curious, but that was all; kept the sapling trees cleared out; grass mowed down. Everything. Wasn't meant to be. Jim has since lost all of his birds. My cousin was surrogating orphaned raccoons all summer one year, and I believe some of the predating upon his colony and my trail came, eventually, from her orphans. He'd never had raccoon problems in 40 years, but lack of good fur prices caused raccoon hunting/trapping to almost completely stop, thus the populations boomed, resulting in more animals coming to residences looking for food... and finding it congregated for easy pickings.

The raccoons climbed his poles and tore open the bottom compartments on all six houses and cleaned them out. The adult birds didn't abandon immediately but were wary afterward. Finish this later.
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:50 pm

Monty wrote:
To finish the story, the martins finished out the nesting season, but only about half returned the next year, then none the next. Jim hasn't even had any visit his empty houses in the last five or so years. And I never did get any. They would land on the houses, go into the compartments, look around, preen on the guard rails, then fly back to Jim's.

I ended up lowering all the houses and covering them heavy plastic. Then, a few years ago, when the man from TX called about buying them, I went out to mom's, and took all of the systems down. Yes, I miss having the houses, but not at the expense of wondering when the sparrows will come in and overwhelm them. So, it was for the best.

I would have loved to have had a colony, even a small one, and still would love to, someday. But not while living here in town. Right now, my main objective is, providing nesting boxes for the bluebirds and tree swallows out near my parents' home, and, making things a little better for my own enjoyment here in town. If I can get more woodland songbirds/cavity nesting birds comfortable with my backyard, perhaps I can get something good started.

Time will tell...

Monty
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:50 pm

mikenlinda wrote:
Wow! What a story. So very sad indeed. You are absolutely right about the Dawnsong it makes the martins curious so they will notice your house and check it out, that is all it does. Now if all the planets line up and they like what they see, they will nest there.

As far as the racoons, I am not at all surprised that the pairs tried to stay after the attack. Pm's are very loyal to their nest sites. That is why, if you can keep the sparrows down until a few pairs nest, they will typically run the sparrows off themselves. Obviously, if the sparrows are too plentiful and the martins too few, they cannot do it. Martins are not at all an aggresive bird, just very loyal. However, after an attack by either predator birds, racoons, snakes, etc. they will not return to that site. Martins develope site loyalty after having a successful breeding season. Then they attract more and more martins. A predator attack has destroyed more than one very successful colony.

It is important to install predator guards on the houses to protect from owls and other flying predators if they are in your area. Also install predator guards at the bottom to protect from racoons, opossoms, rats, snakes and even squirrels. As I said, one attack can scare off an entire colony for years.

I adore the eastern bluebirds! I live in the city where it is not possible to have a trail. My neighbor, however, puts up one lone bluebird box in his front yard each year. Every single year they have a nesting pair! It amazes me. I have not tried that yet but their story encourages me.

Can you tell me what I would need to know as far as box dimensions? Do you put in starter pine straw like you do with martins?
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:51 pm

mikenlinda wrote:
What time of year do I mount the nest box? How high, etc.
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PostSubject: Thanks Ryan!   Sun Feb 21, 2010 2:58 pm

Thank you Ryan!

You are a great administrator! I don't know about the rest of you, but I am not very computer savy. I appreciate the help.

This is a very user friendly site. I appreciate the freedom to speak and also the help you offer members in organizing the forum!

Other forum administrators could definitely learn from you!
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Sun Feb 21, 2010 3:56 pm

Ah thanks, I do what I can!
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:49 pm

Here's what I like, not saying the dimensions or my design are perfect by any means, but I do have bluebirds and tree swallows using the boxes.

Several years ago, I re-engineered some of the boxes and ran the trail over at Salamonie State Forest here in Indiana. They had decrepit boxes that were 12" deep, but only 3 or 4" of floor space. I measured theirs, then mixed their dimensions with mine. The result was:

A backboard --my starting point-- that is at least 16" long; has plenty of tail at the bottom for mounting.

Sides are 10" - 12" long; you can vary the length of these to suit your needs/materials. I figured, the deeper the box, the less chance of a long-armed predator reaching in and grabbing. (Bluebird's nests are at least 3" deep; bottom to top, so the old standard of a 6 or 8" deep box, combined with the bird's nest height, you're asking for trouble). A ten inch deep nest cavity, with a nest three inches in height, still leaves any predator with seven inches to have to reach in to grab anything.

The floor space is what I find also very important. For Bluebirds especially, I do not make the floor any smaller than 5" square. Again, take into consideration your materials. I used some true 1 x 6 barn lumber last summer and had to alter my design to build them. The floors ended up being 3 - 3 1/2" x 4 or 5". I loved those barn boards! Some had great natural knotholes that I could either notch open or just drill the knot out. Some were centered, some were left or right of center. I purposely used the knotted lumber just for aesthetics. (The birds didn't care...)

Once you have the back, sides and floor together (I use screws), then you can get an accurate measurement for the front and roof. I always make the roof to purposely overhang by a few inches. I've noticed claw marks and seen footage of raccoons hanging onto the back of the box with the hind feet and reaching over the front of the roof and into the cavity to retrieve its meal. So, the farther out the overhanging front edge, the less anything can reach in.

Once you've assembled all the pieces, you're ready to mount it. I mount mine just high enough that I can either peak in or CAREFULLY feel in the nest. Any lower invites trouble. Most people wouldn't like some of my design because it doesn't include vent holes at the top or drain holes at the bottom. Nothing malicious, but the primary cavity nesters: woodpeckers, don't include these conveniences when they dig the cavities, and yet the secondary birds use the cavities just fine.

If you find a better design, want to incorporate what I use into something else, feel free and let me know. I'd love to hear what you come up with.

Monty
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:33 pm

Thanks Monty very much! I will be putting my husband to work. I just love those little blue birds they are beautiful!

Now what should I tell my husband his deadline is? Are we in the season now with the purple martins?

Oh, by the way got my second sparrow today! cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:33 pm

Being in Florida, purple martin arrivals should definitely be underway. And, as a bluebirder in Louisiana told me some time ago, they begin bird nesting season at least a month before we, in the northern climes, do. If you have/have had bluebirds in the area, they should definitely find your boxes easily.

We won't be seeing bluebirds beginning to nest, or site-search seriously for about another month; latter part of March to early April, so I'm building now.

And, to answer one of your previous questions, no, I don't put any nesting material in the bluebird boxes. I did that with house wrens once. Assumed, for some reason, that birds used straw in their nests, so I put a small handful of straw into the cavity. The male wren picked most of it out.

Have fun with your nestbox building! That's not sarcasm, I love woodworking. But the only things I build are for my enjoyment, which consists mostly of birdhouses.

I did build a large box for screech owls last summer. Nothing but squirrels have used it since then. But, I did see a gray-phase screech owl looking out the entrance hole early one evening when I came home from work. Sitting in my lane, I text my wife --in the house-- real quick to come look at it through the binocs, just in case seeing me or hearing me would make it shy back into the box. It didn't. Just sat there while I walked into the house. Hasn't been back yet. But, it knows the box is there.
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:01 am

Perhaps that owl realized the squirrels were in there like you did.
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Thu Feb 25, 2010 12:53 pm

What type of wood do you use in for your houses?
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:34 pm

The wood I use is, generally, what ever I can find. I try to use 1 x 6 lumber --which is actually 3/4" x 5 1/2". Lumber companies don't make true 1 x 6's anymore. I also try to find the roughest, least planed lumber I can. Don't have to worry about roughening it up for the birds' use, then.

I wanted to let Ryan, and everyone, know that, unfortunately, I don't have any photos of my trail. Basically all I've done is put nestboxes up at intervals of every 300 feet; the distance from one utility pole to the next. The only problem is, when the population of bluebirds and swallows begins to explode, you have to find alternative areas. You can only put so many nestboxes in one area.

So... I'm beginning to expand mine and the birds' range. I noticed bluebirds and swallows along another stretch of road not far from my parents' house. That's where these next boxes are going up. I already have one up there, I have five more ready. I've decided not to build an extreme amount of boxes. I'll only build so many, to see how they are received, by the birds, then will go from there.

The main difficulty is, not being able to monitor for sparrows easily. But, that's a chance I have to take.

If you're interested in seeing what I've experienced, given that I do not take pictures of the destruction, you should be able to see all of it on the sialis site. I believe they have photos of birds with their heads/skulls pecked open, and carcasses in the nests. It's not pretty, nor for the faint of heart, but it is reality... unlike what the bleeding hearts want you to believe, that "all of the little birds get along like peaches and cream", that, "the cute, little brown birds are so innocent, I can't (won't) believe they'd do that to another bird." Etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.

That's why I love this site... truth.

Monty
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:53 pm

Just jumped into sialis website, and yes, everything they show in their photos is identical to what I could take photos of. Makes me sick.
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:07 pm

I can't wait to hear more about your bluebirds, Monty. It looks like our boxes will have to wait a little while, we have a very sick family member in hospice care. My time on here or doing anything else, will be very limited for a while.

Amen to your statement about a website that not only allows, but promotes the truth, even when it is not popular!

I definitely do not take pictures of destruction. However, destruction from predators, sparrows and starlings defintiely does have its place in pictures. I would not mind at all if this site had those pictures as long as they were well marked so that those of us already convinced of the devastation would not "inadvertantly" stumble upon them.

However, I think many of the "bleeding hearts" are just not aware of the truth. I believe they would benefit a great deal from seeing those pics. I don't believe that sparrowsquad, sialis or sites like these are made up of masocistic people. Quite the contrary. We love and care for our native birds so much that we are willing to do the research...find the truth...and publish it!
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:44 pm

Thanks for the info on your boxes Monty and that's ok if you don't have pictures, just following the progress is good enough for me.

Sialis is a good site, I have their link on the home page here and I believe she has our link on her site now as well. The owner has so much scientific info on her site there's no point in me going that route here, I just link to her site for those types of things. You're right though, anybody that manages songbirds has seen that destruction up close.

Linda, sorry to hear about your family member and we wish you the best.
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:08 am

Linda,

Whenever you read this, family comes first, all else can wait. Keep us posted.

---------------------------------------------------

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been blasted for not being a "true bird lover" or "bird watcher" due to my/our stance on eliminating house sparrows/starlings. And that's what rubs me wrong is that, those who won't do everything in their power to assist "one species over another", have the audacity to view us as evil for our efforts.

Have they not heard that just ten years ago, the bluebird was on the brink of extinction due, among other things, to nest competition/destruction from house sparrows? And, do they not realize that, the only reason(s) the blues ( among other species ) have made such a strong resurgence is because OF the efforts of caring people who are willing to get their hands dirty and do some, otherwise, inglorious deeds?

I'm sorry, but I don't consider someone who allows a house sparrow to overwhelm a nest of bluebirds, passing it off as, "It's just nature at work", to be a "true bird lover". I could never say that on some other sites because, as Jean can attest, you get thoroughly bashed for speaking the truth.

I have the utmost respect for the membership and for this site, and sites like sialis. We need more of them. I realize, just as you can lead a horse to water, but can't make him drink, the same will be for the bleeding hearts. They'll never view the house sparrow as a predator to the cavity nesters. I do believe, however, that there will be more and more people being swayed to seeing the truth, soon.

I know I'm long-winded, and I apologize.

Have a great day, everybody!
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:36 am

Hi Monty and All!

I first learned about HOSP and EUST from Monty on another birding forum almost 2 years ago. I had no clue about the destruction these imports would do to our native birds. I did some research on my own and found that Monty spoke the truth. Sadly, Monty met strong opposition on that forum and there were WARS. The good news is that a few saw "the light" and started to aggressively control them.....thanks to Monty.

I host Eastern Bluebirds. Should a show-up at least I now know that one way or another they must die since the male HOSP bonds with the nestbox and not a mate.

Linda, It is recommended to space Bluebird houses at least 100 yards apart...150 is even better. They are very territorial. I live in on about 5 acres but it is mostly wooded so I really only have room for one pair. I have 3 boxes for them to choose from. But Chickadees will use them also.

I have one of Monty's fine nestboxes and a pair of Chickadees built the prettiest nest of green moss last spring. Then a pair of Blues showed-up and dang it, wanted the same box. Sadly they took over the box. I failed to get a hole restrictor up in time. Crying or Very sad [b]

I am going to try to post a picture of Monty's Bluebird House. Notice that I put a stovepipe baffle on the post. I used the plans on the Sialis site. Here in the South snakes are a huge problem. I learned that lesson the hard way a few years back. Hey....I did it!



[img][/img]
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:33 pm

You're both right, who would have thought that actually protecting songbirds could be viewed so harshly. It is unfortunate that our society has allowed itself to become so misguided. I saw this happening and knew that we needed to do something about this and that's why I started this site. On the same site that Jean met Monty a member of that forum recently took a shot at me in private messages [I didn't realize you're site promoted killing birds. Not interested] he found quickly that he barked up the wrong tree and retracted into "that's not what I meant" mode which is a typical response of someone that has nothing more to give to the debate and has very basic communication skills.

I generally make it a point not to offend anyone on this issue and allow everyone to believe what they want to believe but I am more than willing to go to war for our fellow hosp controllers. The hard part is that a lone person can't debate with a group of people that base their opinion off of emotion that isn't rooted in fact or evidence, that's why we have to stick together.

None of that nonsense will happen here. Every once in a while I will invite someone to debate their side on this site but they have refused every time.
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PostSubject: Re: Monty's trail   Sun Feb 28, 2010 5:11 pm

I read an article a couple of years back that strongly suggested putting a wire-mesh/"hardware cloth" sub-floor in the bottom of nestboxes. This keeps blowfly larvae from crawling up through the nest at night to feed on the nestlings blood.
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