Operating a purple martin colony is a very pleasant and
self gratifying hobby. Few things are more soothing or relaxing than
sitting out on the back deck in the evening and watching the superb
aerial acrobatics of these delightful birds. They have a way a
making a late afternoon breeze a thing of magic and their constant
chatter keeps things lively around the house. However, at
times, it can also be very exasperating, due to having to deal with
some of the pests and predators that bother them. However, if we
plan to dip our hand into taking part of nature this close, then we
are going to run into some of these problems. This page will
make an attempt to deal with a few of those problems and pests.
I've been asked time and again, how can I feel so strong
about keeping and raising one bird species and yet, advocating the
capture and destruction of another. The reason is this.
In the late 1800's a man named Eugene Schefflin was an
apparent nut about Shakespeare. Being very 'well to do' and
since he could afford it, he had all the birds that were mentioned
in all the plays of Shakespeare shipped here to America from
Europe. He then released them in Central Park in NYC.
Not knowing much about the birds or their life styles, all
eventually perished 'except' the European Starling and the
English House Sparrow. Having no natural enemies and now
unlimited opportunities to nest, they propagated and
flourished. From that time until today, both species have
spread out across the U.S. Both are cavity nesting birds and
because they have propagated unchecked for all these years, their
numbers have grown to the point that they are now a problem,
especially in the cities. Both have adapted to living next to
man and his dwellings and find plenty of nesting cavities that suite
their needs rather nicely. Likewise, because of their nesting
habits and their very high numbers, they have devastated our own
'native' cavity nesting bird species. Both are very aggressive
and are a threat to any cavity nesting bird they can 'trap' in their
Many of our native cavity nesting bird species have
suffered greatly because of these two species. Woodpeckers,
Tree Swallows, Wrens, Blue Birds and yes, most definitely the Purple
Martin. In fact, the purple martin has been hurt the most.
Martins require condos to nest and propagate and because of their
nature of leaving the colony to feed, the sparrows and starlings
often slip into their unguarded nests and do their dirty work.
Both of these species, although operating differently,
will eventually end up with the same results.
When the martins are away, starlings will destroy any
eggs or young they find in the nests. Often, if a starling is
able to capture or trap an adult martin in its' cavity, they will
even kill them. If you have a martin house, then this sight
alone is enough to make anyone learn to hate these pests.
Martins are a gentle bird species and are no match for a starling in
a 'one on one' fight in a closed in cavity. Once they evict
the owners of the compartment, they often slip from cavity to
cavity, destroying the eggs and young in the other cavities.
They then settle back to wait on the returning martins and when they
eventually return, the starlings will drive them away, preventing
them from nesting in the house. Often times, a single pair of
starlings will take over an entire martin house and prevent its use
by any other bird. In fact, I have personally seen where a
pair of starlings have built their nest right on top of baby martins
that weren't even dead yet. It's not a pretty sight for anyone
Likewise, the sparrows will eventually do the same
thing. They first acquire a cavity and immediately begin
filling it with grass. Sparrows are a member of the weaver
finch family and will put anything in their nest that they
can. Hay, grass, roots, weeds and a lot of feathers.
Feathers are very prized by the sparrows and can often be used as
bait to capture them. They pack so much in, in fact that no
other bird will enter. Often, you can see the excess material
coming out of the entrance hole and if given enough time, this
material will even push the front doors off of some houses.
Once they are settled in, they too go from compartment to
compartment, 'pinning' (pecking holes in) the eggs in the entire
house. This destroys the eggs and of course, the clutches for
the martins. Both species do this to prevent the raising of
other bird species' young so that there is less competition in the
future. Sparrows will eventually fill all the cavities of the
house, making it un-inhabitable by martins. So, the next time
you feed one of these two pest birds a McDonalds French Fry or a
piece of bread from a hamburger, just remember, you are somewhat
helping in the destruction of some of our own native bird
The following is a little more detailed look into the
problem you'll have around a martin site...
Once you put your house up, European Starlings and
English Sparrows are probably going to be the first major problem
you run into. They can quickly become a major problem around any
martin site, especially if it isn't well established. They bother
the martins by destroying the eggs and young and taking over the
nesting cavities. It doesn't matter what type of housing you have,
if a starling or sparrow decides it wants to nest in it, it will.
Different areas of the country are bothered differently by these
pests. Some places don't have any at all while others, like
here in Northern Alabama where I live, it is inundated with these
pests to the point that they have practically driven the other
cavity native birds out of the area. The following are my thoughts
and comments as to the control of these two bird species.
I also interject something here. I have as great a respect for
nature as anyone else, and under normal circumstances, I will
usually let things happen as nature intended. I don't kill snakes
simply because they're snakes. But this starling/sparrow problem is
one situation I feel needs some help in being controlled. European
Starlings and English House Sparrows have become a major problem to
the other native birds. Since their introduction into the U.S.
they have propagated to the point that they have become one of the
worst bird pests in this country. They can raise multiple
clutches of young per year, and our native birds just can't compete
with them, especially the migratory ones. These transplants are
aggressive birds and will literally take over any available nest
site. Once they've obtained possession, they zealously defend them
at all costs, thus shutting out the possibility of any other native
cavity nesting birds from nesting. I feel that capture and
destroying them is the only sure method of control. Once captured,
the method of disposing of them is up to you. If you are not
able to dispose of these two pests, then I suggest you not get into
the martin hobby. You will only be helping them out and
believe me, they don't need any help at all.
Starlings: The European Starling.
Nickname: Needle Beak
The European Starling is a very aggressive bird in
comparison to the Purple Martin. They can be seen just about
anywhere in large groups, usually on lawns and road sides, grubbing
for grubs and ground based insects. Because of their nature of
foraging for food, they have developed very strong beaks and body
muscles and can inflict major damage on adult martins, their young
and eggs, and even YOU if you're fortunate enough to get your hands
on them and aren't careful how you handle them. In areas where
they are a problem, a trap will have to be set up for them or they
will not let the martins nest. Even though the potential
landlord watches and drives them away whenever possible, they will
still come back the minute his back is turned. They are very
persistent and just will not give up once they decide they want to
nest in one of the cavities.
A starlings nest will fill the nesting cavity more than a
martin's nest, and they will have a very deep bowl in the back of
the compartment with material flowing up the sides of the cavity.
Starlings do not use mud to make a dam in the front of their nest
like martins do. This is one of the easiest ways to discern which
type of nest you are dealing with.
Starling eggs are about the size of a Robins egg and
are powder blue. Usually there are 4 or 5 in the normal nest. These
differ greatly from martin eggs which are pure white and a little
As I stated above, starlings are a very aggressive
species of bird, and in close quarters, the martin is no match for
them. Their destruction is total and if they can capture a martin in
their nest, they will often kill the parent and baby birds by
pecking them in the heads. Yes, it does sound bad, and it looks even
worse. It is very disheartening to look into a martins' nest and see
this shocking picture. And, once you've seen it happen to one of
your martins, I'm willing to bet you won't have any problem
disposing of any starling you get your hands on.
for us, there are a number of different methods to control these
pests. If you have a small site, for instance, only one house or a
few gourds, you can purchase a small trap that will fit inside a
hole and trap the starling inside the unit until it can be dealt
with. If you own a larger site with 20, 30 or even more nests
available, you may have to come up with a little more drastic
That was my problem. The starlings were taking over
both my martin house and my gourds, and no matter how many times I
removed them, they simply built another nest. I was getting very
frustrated with the whole situation and was determined that I was
not going to let these pests defeat me.
So, I acquired the plans for a Troyer S&S
Controller and built me one. Then, carefully following the
instructions, I set it up near my site. As you can see, it looks
just like a small purple martin house. The unit is designed with a
self setting trap inside of it. It works like this.
There is a hole in the front of the unit for the
starling to access. Upon entering the unit, the starling trips the
trap, (The idea for which is so simple, I think it's ingenious). The
starling is then forced to exit through a hole in the rear of the
house and is delivered to a basket near the ground via a tube down
the back of the unit.
Here the landlord can access the birds, and
again, although this sounds cruel, if they are one of these two
pests, I strongly suggest destroying them. Relocating them is a
waste of time and effort. Birds have a very good homing
instinct and will be back at the site before you. I once
tested this by tying a string to the leg of a starling that had been
bothering me at my site and then driving it about 7 miles away and
let it go. I'm not kidding when I say it beat me back to the
nest site. And besides, if you were to drop them off somewhere
else, you would just be giving your problems to someone else down
the road. Starlings raise two and three broods a year and
native migratory birds just can't compete with them. Their
numbers have become so numerous that they can be seen flying in
large flocks that literally take 5 and 10 minutes to pass over
head. My own personal feeling is that if some major control
method isn't initiated nationally, they will soon wipe out a number
of native species of cavity nesting birds.
Once you have one
of these units set up, all you have to do is keep an eye on the
basket and dispose of the starlings whenever one is deposited to the
basket. When the bird leaves the trap part of the unit, it
automatically resets itself and is ready for another
This unit worked so well in fact, that I built me a
second one. I'm not going to brag on the numbers I've captured, but
within a month and a half, my immediate area was practically
starling free. It really is a good feeling to know that I don't have
to worry about these pests bothering the martins anymore.
starlings are a major problem around your site, and you think you
might want to build one of these units and are handy, you can get
the plans for about $10 and build one for under $50. If your not
that handy, they can be purchased in kit form. Both plans and kits
are available from the Purple Martin Conservation
They can be reached by email:
One other thing. Should a desirable
bird happen to trip the trap, all you have to do is open the cage
door and let it go, unharmed.
Sparrows: The English House Sparrow
Sparrows are another bird species that will eventually
become a problem around a martin site. Many sites around populated
areas can become infested with them. They particularly like
the aluminum houses. The compartments seem to be just the right size
for them and once they initiate nesting, it is just about impossible
to get rid of them.
This cute little fellow here is also a wolf in
sheep's clothing. He may be cute, but he is also very aggressive
once he gets situated in one of your martin house nesting cavities,
and although usually not much threat to the adults themselves, these
birds will attack the young and eggs and then take over the nesting
compartment. If you find a pile of martin eggs on the ground, then
you can bet it's the work of one of these fellows. And, if he gets
himself established in a nesting compartment, be prepared to tear it
out time after time. They too are very determined and
persistent and will rebuild as many times as you tear it out.
You can easily tell if sparrows are nesting in your
house or gourds because their nest can be immediately recognized
over another birds nest. Sparrows are a member of the Weaver Finch
family and literally fill the nesting cavity from top to bottom with
grass and feathers to the point that it will be coming out the front
entrance hole. They leave only a small tunnel for access into the
nest. If you look into a cavity and see this, you've got
Sparrow eggs are much smaller than starlings and
martins. They are a sandy brown with dark brown specks all over
them. There will usually be from 2 to 4 in a normal nest.
The aluminum house above shows what can happen when these
little pests are left unchecked. They will clog the
compartments with so much nesting material that the doors will no
longer stay attached. Although not real clear, you can
faintly make out the male in the upper left hole guarding his
And, if you think it's OK to let them nest in your martin
house, then here's what you should expect to see in your martin's
Sparrows are notorious for entering a martin nest when
the martins have left to feed and "pinning" the martin eggs as shown
above. This obviously renders the eggs useless and of course
they won't hatch. This cuts down on the number of martins and
in turn cuts down on competition for future nesting sites.
They have also been known to kill young that have been left
And one more thing. DO NOT believe that these 'cute
little birds' are not a threat to other native cavity nesting birds
in your area. Here is a picture of a Bluebird that I found in
its' nest with 3 eggs and a sparrow had built its' nest right on top
of it. The bluebird was pecked to death in its' own cavity
while trying to defend its eggs.
One of the major discoveries in the last few years to
control the starling infestation is the crescent shaped
SREH's. These holes are just a little smaller than the height
of a starling's sternum and under most testing, 99% of all starlings
are kept out of martin housing. Below is a picture of one of
my gourds that a starling pair found attractive enough that they
tried to get into it for over 2 weeks without success. As you
can see they actually pecked away all the paint trying to enlarge
the hole so that they could enter. This was a gourd that
originally had a round hole and I changed it to a crescent shaped
hole with a simple add-on. My entire site is now crescent
holes. If starlings are a problem around your site, this is
one of the first things you should look at. Starlings hate
Not only do crescents keep out starlings, but they now
help keep out other predators as well. Providing the
compartment is deep enough and the martins have a chance to back out
of the way, many of the predators that could originally enter the 2
inch hole, will now be foiled. Jays can no longer get into the
compartments. Nor can squirrels, (without chewing it bigger),
crows, owls, 'coons or gulls. All are too big to get into the
smaller SREH. If any of these other critters are a potential
threat to your colony, then I strongly recommend your changing to
Here are a few other things that you can do to help
eliminate these pests. Depending on the type of housing you
have, there are a number of different traps that you can acquire
that can keep these pests under control. Again, these are available
from the PMCA and are offered in their catalog. Here's a few
There's a wire cage called a Repeating Bait
Trap. With the correct placement of this trap, you can catch
sparrow after sparrow. It is also self repeating, working pretty
much on the same principle as the S&S Controller. The birds are
kept alive and unharmed until you deal with them.
If they are
bothering a wooden house where the front is removable for access,
they have a simple little trap called the INT-1, Insert Trap,
that you attach inside the access hole and upon entering the house,
the sparrow is trapped until you retrieve it.
If you have an
aluminum house, they have a device called a Spare-O-Door.
Again, the sparrow enters the house, is trapped and held in a
plastic bag until you retrieve it.
And, if they are bothering
your bluebird boxes, they have a Nest Box Trap that has the
INT-1 installed in it to catch the ones that won't leave your
bluebirds alone. All you have to do is temporarily replace your
bluebird box with it until you catch the sparrow, then replace your
All of these traps catch the birds, and then
hold them, unharmed, until you deal with them, and you already know
where I stand on that issue. But, if you just can't seem to bring
yourself to dispose of them, and you want to get in your car and
drive them as far as 20 miles to get rid of them, so be it. But you
will only be dumping your problems on some other guy down the
The PMCA has more, but you may want to get their
catalog, look at the traps, and then decide which one will work best
for you. It may take a little effort on your part, but these pests
can be controlled, and believe me, it's worth it.
Although these birds aren't usually a threat to the
martins, what they do is ruin a wooden martin house by pecking at
and enlarging the holes. Squirrels will do the same thing by
chewing the holes larger. I've also had this happen on my
S&S trap holes and my Bluebird houses. One thing that can
be done to prevent them is to sandwich a piece of 1/16" thick
aluminum in between two pieces of wood. If the woodpeckers
have already destroyed the house or you are building a new one,
here's what's done. First, a new piece of wood has to be put
back on to replace the one that was destroyed. This might mean
a new front face or a new door depending on what you have.
Now, cut yourself a 3 inch square piece of 1/16" thick
aluminum. In the center of it, cut a hole the size you
need. Hole saws that fit in your drill are made of steel and
will easily cut the hole in the aluminum. In each corner,
drill a small hole that will allow mounting screws to pass
through. Now, make another piece of 3 inch square wood,
exactly the same as the aluminum by match drilling the holes.
Now, screw the new piece of wood to the front of your house with the
aluminum sandwiched between the two pieces of wood. When the
wood pecker pecks the front piece of wood to open the hole, it hits
the aluminum and can go no further. Although the outside hole
is opened up considerably, the inside piece of wood is safe from the
pesky woodpecker. I've had to do this to my S&S's and it
works great. Plus, all the roughed up opening the woodpecker
created makes for great claw holds for the proper tenants.
Snakes, Raccoons, Squirrels, etc:
problem that you will eventually run into is climbing predators.
Snakes, Raccoons and Squirrels all love birds and bird's eggs. You
can throw the friendly family cat in this category also. One visit
by one of these critters will devastate a martin colony, especially
if it's small. Sometimes the parent birds will get away, but any
eggs or young birds will be lost. Yes, that cute little squirrel
will snatch an egg faster than you can blink an eye. He will also
chew the entrance holes of a wooden house or gourd to beyond
Raccoons will physically tear an aluminum martin
house apart trying to get at the occupants. The tell tail signs of
destruction are often the work of 'coons that have scaled your pipe
and gotten into your martin house.
Snakes are another
problem. Do not believe that snakes cannot climb a steel pole.
In fact, they make it look easy. They are hardly even noticed
slithering up the pole and once they gain the top, simply slither
right in. Once they've obtained access, they don't leave until
all occupants have been consumed. Snakes are unbelievably good
climbers when there is a meal at stake. We don't think that they can
go up the surfaces of a smooth steel pole, but take it from me, I've
personally removed two different snakes from martin houses. Although
not all snakes like to climb, there are a few that have no problem
with it at all. The rat snake pictured below will readily and
willingly clean out your martin house or gourds if given the chance.
As you can see, we found this one in a T-14 compartment after it had
feasted on the 4 chicks that were in it, and it was settled down to
digest them before moving on. The T-14 is on an 18' high steel pole.
At the time, it didn't have predator guards. It does now.
So what can be done about these types of
Believe it or not, these climbing predators
are the easiest to keep from your site. Just put up a good working,
climbing predator guard. There are many different styles available.
You just have to decide which will work for you, purchase or make
one, and then install it on the pole to your housing. If properly
installed, it will prevent any climbing creature from gaining access
to your housing by not allowing them to climb the
Owls, Crows, Coopers
and Sharp shinned Hawks and even Blue jays will wreak havoc at a
Purple Martin site. These flying predators are interested in both
the parent birds and the eggs. Depending on the size of the colony,
one successful visit by one of these flying bandits will bring many
more and before long, the site could be considered destroyed. The
parent birds that escape will quite often abandon the site, never to
Owls are probably the hardest to defend against out
of these predators. They usually hit at night and will quite often
do their work without your even knowing they were there, until it's
too late. Often, the only way you will know they've been to visit is
from the tell tale claw marks all around the entrance holes or maybe
a feather on the ground. That, and the parent birds will be gone.
Owls will often tear off the porches and some doors from aluminum
Crows and Jays can become bothersome pests also. They
try to get at the eggs and/or young. Although not usually
destructive to the housing, they can also cause the site to be
Hawks can become a problem, especially when the
young are just fledging and learning to fly. The parent birds are
very good flyers, and can usually out maneuver these predators, but
the young, inexperienced birds often fall victim to them. These
predators will hide in any nearby tree and then ambush any
inexperienced martin that happens by. This is one major reason
martins don't like to nest within a close proximity of any large or
What can be done to prevent these flying
predators from getting at your martins?
Again, there are
guards that can be installed that will prevent these birds from
gaining access to your housing. Some of these can be purchased if
you have a standard aluminum house. If you have a custom house, then
you may have to custom build one for your particular housing
Below is a picture from a friends' site in
Oklahoma showing owl guards mounted to his martin houses. As you can
see, the martins are very adaptive birds. Once they get used to the
guards, they don't pay them any attention at all. In fact, they even
use them to rest in.
Insect Pests and Parasites
Purple Martins are bothered by a variety of insects and
parasites. These parasites have to be controlled if the parent birds
are to raise large and healthy broods. Again, where you live will
determine the type of pest problems you'll have. We won't try to
discuss them all here, but we'll attempt to express what can be done
about the major ones.
Mites, Lice, Fleas and Blow flies are
some of the major concerns most landlords run into. These parasites
live in the nesting material and feed on the young. Most of these
can be controlled with diligent nest checks. When found, they need
to be tended to.
Mites are small
parasites that stay in the nesting material in the nest and live off
the young. They are usually brought into the nest by the parent
birds when building the nest. They are found just about
Lice usually live out their entire lives on the
birds themselves, so there isn't too much that can be done about
them other than to supply fresh nesting materials to allow the birds
to be more comfortable.
A few things that can be done to
combat them is to put cedar chips the compartment to slow the
infestation of the mites. This also works for fleas. Cedar Chips can
usually be obtained at any pet shop.
I've tried DE. Unfortunately, I've found it just
didn't work. What is recommended to do with it is sprinkle it
around the outside edge and under the nesting material about 10 days
after the young have hatched and again about 10 days later, keeping
it away from the center of the nest so the birds won't peck at it
and ingest it. If you want to try it along with nest replacements,
Diatomaceous Earth can be found at most garden centers and Co-ops,
and is supposed to work by breaking down the exo-skeletons of the
insects allowing them to dehydrate. It's also recommended that
nest changes be done along with it's use, but I've also found that
the nest changes alone do the same thing. It's also lately
been discovered that DE is a possible carcinogen and is not 'NOT'
recommended to be used in martin
Fleas are pretty much self
explanatory. Everyone has run into them with their family pets.
Unfortunately, they are not as easy to control on and around birds
as they are on cats and dogs.
No, don't use 'flea spray'
and spray into a birds nest to rid them of fleas. It is poison and
could harm the young if they ingest the dead insects.
Blow fly larvae can become a problem around
hatching time. Blow flies lay their eggs in the nesting material and
when they hatch, they survive by sucking the blood from the
Nest replacement. If
you plan to treat your pests by replacing the infected materials,
here is how it's done. Make a small temporary nest in a small box or
bucket. Use dried lawn clippings for the nesting material. They're
soft and won't harm the young birds. Place the young in this
temporary nest. Now remove all the infested nesting material from
the nesting compartment and replace it with new material, making a
'bowl' towards the rear of the nest. Make sure there is enough
material to separate the young from the compartment floor. Now,
simply replace the young and close up the
Replacement materials can consist of wheat
straw, pine straw, (pine needles) or grass clippings. You may want
to keep some of it in a plastic bag to use just for this purpose.
Doing nest replacements will also teach your birds to trust you. The
young will learn to accept being handled and will fear man less than
birds that are not tended to on a regular basis. This is one
major reason that you need to be able to easily get at your housing.
And, if your housing does not facilitate easy nest replacement, it
should be reworked so that it can be done. Remember, this is a
hobby, and it is supposed to be fun, but you are working with live
creatures, and you need to be able to do whatever is required to
Sevin Dust, Sulfur, Etc;
There is much controversy on the use of pesticides to
control insect pests in the nests of purple martins, therefore, I
will not "tell you" to use any pesticide of any kind, especially
anything from a spray can. Improper use could result in harming
your birds. As of this date, there is no approved method in
print from an approved source that talks about any pesticide
However, I will tell you "what I do" and if you
want to try that, then fine, but I will not be responsible
for someone's misuse of a chemical and harming their birds.
What I do not do:
I do not use Sulfur. Sulfur is caustic and
can burn a young birds skin and eyes.
I do not use any kind of chemicals out of a
spray can. They are much too uncontrollable and most
will harm young birds.
What I do:
When mites infest my colony, I do this. I take less
than a level TEASPOON of 5% Sevin dust
and sprinkle it 'on the nesting material' just inside the
entrance hole. Then, using the spoon, I tap on the nest so
that the dust will somewhat settle down into the material.
Mites travel in and out of the nest by way of the nesting material
and in doing so, they pass through the Sevin dust, and when
this happens, the Sevin gets on their skeletons and kills
them. Usually, the treatment eliminates the mites within 24
hours and only one treatment a year is required. As with any
chemical, more is not better. Give it time to work the
way it was intended. Sevin was formulated to work in the
poultry industry just for this reason, to rid the poultry of chicken
mites, but it takes about 24 hours to work, so once applied, be
Ants have been around for
eons, and are part of a landlords nightmares if plagued by them,
especially the fire ants. This is a new predator that is becoming a
real problem in the Southern part of the purple martins' range. They
will climb the pole and kill the young by feeding on them. Once
found by a foraging ant, the young are doomed, and stop to think of
what kind of death this is for the young that are totally helpless
to defend themselves. The ant leaves a chemical trail that all the
other ants can follow, and soon the young are totally destroyed by
Also, we've probably all had this happen to us at
one time or another. You wake up one morning and find sugar ants
running across the counter in YOUR house and you can't figure out
where they're coming from. Off you go to get a can of ant spray to
get rid of them. Remember, some of these are very small and will fit
through the smallest of holes, and if there's one to the inside of
your house, sooner or later they'll find it.
There are a few
things that can be done. Petroleum jelly can be added to the pole
and it will effectively repel the fire ants for as long as it lasts,
but the ants have to be dealt with as soon as possible. As soon as
the jelly is gone, the ants will be up the pole and will kill the
One treatment that works is to break open the top of the
hill and then sprinkle some Orthene on the mound getting some
on some of the ants. Ants are very meticulous and will clean
each other off. This chemical works very well and will usually
kill the hill within 10 to 12 hours. Also, sprinkling some in
their paths will also eliminate the colony. Some gets back to
the queen and when she dies, so does the colony.
another little something that might put an end to all your sugar ant
problems, both inside and outside.
THIS WHERE PETS AND KIDS CAN GET AT IT IN ANY LARGE
Mix 10 oz of KARO syrup, 1/2 cup of water and 2
teaspoons of Boric Acid in a container. Stir well. Now place some of
it in areas where the ants are a problem. For instance, if they are
on your counter, place a few drops on a small piece of cardboard
such as the kind that form the bottom of a small GEM's donut pack,
then place it 'IN' their line, and let them go. I know this is hard
to do, but don't kill them. They need to ingest it and take it back
to the colony and the queen. Some of it is fed to the queen, end of
Same thing outside. Use some aluminum foil that is
formed to make a small but shallow tray and place a teaspoon or 3 of
it in the tray. You could even use the spoon to form the bowl part
of the tray by forming the aluminum around the round part of the
spoon. Place it at the bottom of the martin pole or where ever else
you're having the problem. If you do it right, the aluminum foil can
be formed around the pole and they can't get up the pole without
finding the syrup. Then put a couple of teaspoons full around the
tray. This can be used anywhere you see them. Just remember,
whatever you do for your container, make sure they can get to it and
then get back out. You don't want them to fall in and drown. Unless
this gets to the queen, there will just be more and more coming
looking for food.
What I've tried to do here is give you a
basis to work with for protecting your martins. Depending on where
you live, I'm sure there are probably other types of predators and
parasites that could do damage to your martin site. And, depending
on your predator problems, you may even have to come up with another
type of solution. If so, give the situation some thought as to how
to solve your particular problem, then go for it. Remember,
'necessity is the mother of invention'. Just make sure that whatever
you do will 'protect' your birds and not 'harm' them or any of your
children or pets. If it's a poison, then use it intelligently and
don't overdo it.
Back to Chuck's Purple Martin
This page created and
by Chuck Abare
The Registry of Nature Habitats
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