Archive for November, 2011

GoodBye Trio MSS-8

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Erva announced recently that is was discontinuing a couple of their aluminum purple martin houses. The MSS-8 is therefore being discontinued. I was never crazy about the MSS-8 as it was just too small and there are several much better values out there. Once you close off alternating compartments, as recommended by the PMCA and PurpleMartins-R-Us.com, you end up with a pretty standard, unimpressive 4 room house. Not giving you much room for a healthy colony, our opinion is a 4 room house is just wrong.

Why do we make such a big deal about enlarging compartments? 6×6 is so 20th century and so unsafe. 6×12 is the way to go. Predators such as Owls can reach in 6 inches with their feet making anything in a small 6×6 compartment an easy dinner. Even Fish Crows and in some cases Blue Jays, have been known to reach in and snatch an easy meal. Also PMCA studies show that purple martins that nest in larger compartments lay more eggs on average, more eggs hatch and more survive to fledge.  A simple feat to enlarge existing compartments. Some housing systems (Like Quad Pods) use a “baffle” to deter Owls. That is simply a plastic barrier, within the compartment that prevents the owl from seeing past it and into the compartment itself. Larger compartments simply increase the distance from entrance to the nest interior. The added length makes it difficult for an Owl to reach in and pull out birds with his talons. Since an Owl can not reach in far enough, houses or gourds that incorporate this added length can help your Martins have some measure of safety.

The other models being discontinues are the DH-12N (a budget version of the popular Trio Mini Castle system) and the winch version of the MSS-12. The Budget DH-12N has always had stiff competition from the Heath 12/6 convertible that has the added features of SREH (Starling Resistant Entrance Holes) and compartments that can be easily enlarged to the recommended size, and still has the same hexagon shape that folks find so attractive. Though Heath does make an even cheaper version of the 12/6 convertible, again we do not recommend it due to the safety issues it poses to purple martins.

Screech Owls Need a Hand

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

As a proponent of all native cavity nesting birds, I again was reminded of the housing shortage when the floor to the much sought screech owlsafter Flicker nest box fell out. After several seasons of hard use, interest by Woodpeckers, Greater Crested Flycatchers, Screech Owls and most recently, Horned owl attacks, 2 new nest boxes will be going up this weekend. I will be adding some experimental Owl Guards to keep the larger Barred/Horned Owls from killing their smaller “Screech-y” cousins.The Screech Owls seem to get caught by the Repeating nest box trap once a season. Even though the trap is placed lower to the ground than what Owls are said to like, my theory is that they are always desperate for nest sites and will investigate any cavity.

As a few cool days have reminded me of approaching winter and the news shows snow storms already battering some States, I welcome my yearly Eastern Phoebe friends that I have seen.