Purple Martins Are Still Arriving in Milam County

by Donna Lewis

This morning (March 20) I heard a lot more singing going on outside. I was delighted to count 14 Martins on my Gourd rack.  YEAH!!

Sadly, my Apartment Rack in the front of our house still has no Martins for three years now.

We had a very large Rat Snake climb over the baffle and get all the babies. I was very upset about it. Since then, I use the netting system to prevent any snake from getting to the birds. The bad thing is that it will kill the snake either on its own or you have to do it, so it does not suffer. I hate doing it, but it is the only thing that keeps the gourd rack safe from the snakes here. All life is important to me.  But it’s twenty babies or one snake.

I cannot understand why I still do not have Martins in the apartment now. I have cleaned it several times, added new bedding, everything I can think of. Prior to the snake, it was occupied every year. It has twenty-six apartments.  A mystery.

But we have 14 Martins to look at and listen to their beautiful songs. I am hoping more will arrive.

Come on in…free room and board.

Here Come the Martins

by Donna Lewis

Believe it or not, the first Purple Martins have already landed in Florida as of December 27, 12021! Wow, that’s pretty early. Whether that is good or bad, I couldn’t tell you.

Ready for cleaning

But, if you are a Martin landlord you need to get your housing in shape and ready. Here are my guidelines:

  • Do not open any apartments or gourds yet.  Block them off or other bird species will go in, and the Martins will be left out in the cold.
  • The housing should be clean, with extra pine needles in them (if you do that).
  • Be ready to raise the housing up as soon as you hear a Martin or February 1, just to be safe.
  • You never open all the entrances at once, just a few at a time.

The Martins here in Milam County have historically arrived around Valentine’s Day. Last year I did not have any till March, however. So, as the earth’s weather changes, wildlife changes also.

I opened my apartment house today to see if it was still clean like I had left it last summer when I closed it for the year. I had taped over the entrance holes for the first time to see if it would keep out the spiders, lady-bugs and wasps. 

It worked pretty good, but there were still lots of spiders near all the corners. The spider webs are difficult to remove. Here’s a tip that I use to get them out easy and fast:

Spider web

Get a stick and twirl the web around it. They come out fast. Then, pitch the stick.

Stick magic

Secondly, I use a wet/dry vac to get anything else out that might be in there. I wipe out anything nasty with a damp paper towel or sponge and let everything dry for a day or so.  You need the apartments to be dry. I will do that later and take photos of it. For now it is so much easier to prep your houses while it’s not cold outside. Much better on your hands.

Time to vacuum!

Our friends are coming!