Purple Martin | Houses | Products | Starling Problems | Amish Solutions
Attracting and growing a Purple Martin Colony
Purple Martin lovers will find a wide variety of proven purple martin houses, sparrow, and starling traps and accessories all made and used by the Amish at this unique online general store.
The Amish really cherish and nurture their purple martin colonies as much as they do their back to basics gardening and organic farming.
While the Amish don’t like to brag or place a spot light on them they probably could be considered as experts about all aspects of attracting and building martin colonies.
A few hours spent with an Amish martin landlord can provide a wealth of knowledge on how to attract and maintain a thriving martin colony.
With the knowledge and reputation for building long lasting quality products, Amish built purple martin products are well worth exploring.
While most think martins are true mosquito eaters, the Amish in general love them because they only eat flying insects instead of going after their crops and gardens.
A large colony of martins will look like an air force of jet fighters complete with swept back wings crossing back and forth over yards, gardens and fields. They feed on all types of bugs including problem stinkbugs, Japanese beetles, grass hoppers, flies, leafhoppers, wasp and even spiders.
A colony of martins not only helps keep the bug population in control around garden and crops, for the Amish who do not use Air Conditioning, keeping the flies and other flying insects from their homes and barns is also a necessity.
Amish made products have been tried and proven from the knowledge and hands on experience passed down from generations.
Not having televisions or computers the Amish spend much of their idle time watching nature unfold around them.
One particular Amish person that we know built a giant purple martin tree house complete with an inside window observatory so that he can actually climb up inside to study and observe the martin progression.
Waiting on the annual arrival of the martin colonies for the Amish is like most waiting on a big ten conference. Once you begin hearing that very distinguishing martin chirp they know the scouts have arrived and soon the colony will follow to start a new season.
One of the most popular Amish designed martin house is the Troyer T-14.
The T-14 post mounted martin house utilizes a winch to raise and lower the house. This system was developed in the Amish communities and is widely used across the United States by the Amish and non Amish martin landlords.
These unique martin houses features nest boxes built around a ground post equipped with a pulley at the top and a winch and cable at the bottom of the post.
Each nest box has a hinged door to fully access all the vertical nesting boxes. Most will also equip the nest boxes with slide out nesting trays that assist in the monitoring of the hatch as well as cleaning out the old nest.
The ability to be able to lower the martin house without tipping or disturbing the nest allows true martin landlords seasonal progression statistics during the martin season. Most of the Amish keep detailed records year to year of when the martins arrive, how many babies were hatched and from which nest produced the most.
Lowering the houses also provides off season preparations to prevent other birds from inhabiting the houses as well as cleaning the houses between seasons.
With decades of progression with the T-14 martin house design a host of accessories and material improvements have also been developed.
The original houses were made of pine and used with a wooden post. Newer designs use cedar, or poly plastic wood and even aluminum post.
Starling resistant entries have also been added to keep the starlings out.
A vinyl cover is also available to help close off the houses during the winter months as well as help protect them from the freezing elements.
Starling and Sparrow Control
Starlings are nasty predators of a martin colony and therefore are as much of a target by the Amish as anyone else.
Starlings will attack the martin nest destroying and inhibiting the colony growth.
Sparrows are also nasty birds that will nest in barns, farm equipment and clothes line post tops leaving their droppings on vehicles, buggies, farm equipment and even on fresh air dried clothes and linens.
A sparrow nest hidden inside farm machinery can cause havoc during peak harvest time.
While sparrows also eat bugs, they also enjoy a diet of grains and seeds. In large quantities they can be destructive to crops, stored grains and freshly planted seeds.
Over the years the Amish have controlled the starling and sparrow populations by either making their martin house entries resistant or by building traps to catch and destroy them.
As nature lovers the Amish are very sensitive in protecting desirable birds as well martins should they stumble into one of their traps.
Amish designed traps all have a humane catch and release design that will allow them to release desirable birds.
When it comes to a starling or sparrow the Amish have no problem with eradicating them.
Traps vary from a small spring loaded trap that can be mounted into the T-14 compartment to larger wire cage traps, fake martin house traps to large elaborate cage traps.
The most popular starling resistant martin entry uses a crescent design hole also called a “Conley” design hole.
The Conley design makes it difficult for the wider winged starling to enter into the nest box.
The Conley design hole is either cut at the time the house is constructed or added on later using screw on plates that cover the traditional round holes.
As more Amish have experimented with improved starling resistant entries new designs are emerging that look more like a bat wing profile that many are calling the “Excluder” starling resistant hole.
While some traps use a funnel entry the most popular traps use a counterbalance platform that will drop the starling or sparrow down to a lower level forcing them into a holding area.
As soon as the bird steps off the counter balanced platform sends the platform back up to the ready position for the next bird. These are also called repeating traps, meaning they automatically reset and are capable of catching several birds throughout the day.
Wire cage traps use corn of bird seed to attract the bird into the trap.
Like animal traps, if they are not going to be monitored daily they should have water and food available for the birds. Many state and local laws will even require this.
Another very popular trap used by the Amish is called the S & S Controller, short for Starling and Sparrow controller. It consist of a fake martin house mounted up on a post.
It is also a repeating trap but unlike the wire cage traps it doesn’t require baiting. Instead it uses the natural aggressiveness instinct of the starling and sparrows to lure them into an easy accesses round hole.
The S & S Controller works really well next to martin houses that have the starling resistant holes.
Once inside the nest they are also greeted with a counter balanced floor that automatically drops them down to a lower level.
That lower level then leads them out to another wire cage that appears to be an escape to daylight. Instead they step out and drop down a PVC pipe that has a holding cage at the bottom for easy retrieval.
The S & S controller has proven very effective and if the family will be away for longer than a day the door at the bottom of the pipe should be left open to keep this trap humane.
Cottage Craft Works .com is a back to basics farm and garden type of on line general store featuring many Amish made products.
You can go to the main home page at www.cottagecraftworks.com or the direct link to the Purple Martin Products is listed below to copy and paste. This will take you directly to all the martin products including several plan books to build your own T-14 houses and the S & S Controller. http://www.cottagecraftworks.com/back-to-basics-farm-garden/the-birds-bees/purple-martin-products.