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Old 03-22-2009, 09:54 AM   #1
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Default Spring brings sad start

I decided to get a jump on my bluebird trail and purple martin colony housing, so I made the 35 mile trip with a buddy yesterday. We got a new purple martin house set up, raised the purple martin gourd rack and two aluminum houses and found a bad cable on my wooden North Star purple martin house. There is always something that needs attention, so I like to get started a few weeks before the martins start to show up in good numbers.

The bluebird houses get cleaned out every fall, but birds use them for roosting and I clean them out every spring. I was surprised to find house sparrow nests in several of the boxes. There were no eggs, but it is early to have complete nests in mid-Michigan. It was also surprising to find a bluebird nest so early in the year. I'll get started during the last week of February from now on. There was probably nothing that I could have done to prevent it, but a house sparrow had killed a male bluebird in the house with the bluebird nest. The top of the bluebird's head had been hammered featherless. Maybe if I had started trapping house sparrows last week, or the week before, I could have prevented it. I got through last year without any bluebirds or tree swallows killed by house sparrows. This is a bad start to this season.

I'm going to replace a cable and trap some house sparrows now.:mad:
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Old 03-22-2009, 10:49 PM   #2
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I'm sorry.
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Old 03-22-2009, 11:26 PM   #3
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awww, that's so sad. Sorry to hear it.
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Old 03-23-2009, 10:21 AM   #4
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Well, on a better note, the female bluebird has already found a new mate (hussy).

I thought that nesting season was still a couple of weeks away. The house sparrows did not begin to rebuild any of the nests that I removed on Saturday. During nesting season they can complete a nest in about four hours. I can only assume that the nests I removed were from pairs that started early nests to stake out "their" box. I managed to trap out a single male house sparrow. Until nesting begins my trapping success is limited.

The bluebirds were checking out all of the available boxes. Some pressure may be off of the bluebirds now. The house sparrows LOVE the new purple martin house. Now I have to build some custom insert traps for the new house. Nothing on the market will work in this house.

All of the purple martin housing is now in shape for the season. They sohuld be here within two weeks. I just have to reduce the house sparrow numbers so that the bluebirds, martins and tree swallows stand a chance.
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Old 03-23-2009, 03:10 PM   #5
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Well that's a good thing. Hopefully you'll have baby bluebirds down the line. Do you have pictures of your purple martin house you could share, please?
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Old 03-24-2009, 08:28 PM   #6
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This is my buddy, Lou, getting the new house ready to put up. The houses, in order, are the new four way with excluder entrances - Natureline gourd rack with "obround" entrances - North Star with crescent entrances and two "Grandpa Trio" aluminum houses with round holes and 6"X6"X6" compartments. All other housing has large compartments, so the starling resistant entrances are in place. The small compartments are not appealing to starlings, but the martins still use them, even with large compartments available. It's an interesting experiment.
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Old 03-24-2009, 09:54 PM   #7
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Without people like you purple martins wouldn't stand a chance. Kudos to you and all you do.
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:01 PM   #8
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Nice site for those interested. MichiganMartins.com - Welcome
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:43 PM   #9
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Very nice site.
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Old 03-24-2009, 11:41 PM   #10
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fishlkmich-
Your purple martin bird houses are awesome!

My favorite one is the gourd rack house. I've never seen anything like that before. I enjoy making gourd birdhouses and grow gourds in my garden every year. The gourd rack house is very creative.

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