Predator protection: Not a New Topic

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Condorman
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 17, 2016 10:17 pm
Location: Southern Pines, North Carolina
Martin Colony History: Started new colony at daughter's small farm in 2024. Acquired aluminum houses from landlords that have had failures or never were able to attract martins (wrong locations). Retrofitted entrance doors with 3/4" wooden blocks with entrance holes to increase insulation and add stability to the box. First ASYM arrived in late April, by June 1, 4 pairs= 3 ASYM's and 1 SYM. Biggest concern is predation by rat snakes. By June 1 still haven't developed a safe rat snake guard and count each day without predation as pure luck. First ASYM feeding first young on 5/26/24.

Hello fellows, this is Jesse in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Just getting my first colony going this year with two aluminum houses I got from folks that have had failures (pretty sure snakes) and have given up. I retrofitted the houses by adding 3/4" wooden fronts to each compartment on the outside for insulation and strength. Doing this until I see whether I can really attract the birds or not. Surprisingly very few colonies in this county and I'm pretty sure now it's snake depredation. Most folks here don't believe snakes can climb poles so none of the bluebird boxes even attempt snake guards... and neither do the few martin colonies I've seen. Lots of abandoned houses (both bluebird and martin) however. So, that being the issue a friend and I have been trying to come up with some way to electrify the martin house pole. The two aluminum houses I have are on my daughter's horse farm and the poles are mounted to the pasture fence. The fence has an electric wire running across the top to keep the horses from chewing on the fence. So, I have electricity. We had gotten to the point in our thoughts of wrapping the poles in bicycle tire inner tubes for insulation. Then wrapping hardware cloth around the rubber tubes with hose clamps and tighten the hardware cloth to the pole (and over the rubber insulation). Next, take a wire from the electric horse fence and attach it to the hardware cloth. So now we assume the hardware cloth is electrified but insulated from the martin house pole. So assuming a snake crawls up the fence first it may skip the bottom portion of the pole so we have the insulation and hardware cloth mounted above the top board of the fence....so maybe 5' above ground. Now when the snake starts up the pole he will be grounded by the martin house pole when he hits the hardware cloth. The question we are now dealing with is whether the martin house pole gets electrified through the body of the snake, and the current runs up the pole to the houses? Not a good scenario. Since the pole is resting on the ground (not buried in the ground) and attached to the fence, will the current run down to ground (path of least resistance) to the ground or throughout the pole? So now we're stymied here, neither of us being electricians. Oh, yes, there are three pairs of martins incubating eggs now and a batch of SY birds hanging around. Any thoughts? My feeling is without some snake guard there is no chance the birds can be successful.
Condorman
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 17, 2016 10:17 pm
Location: Southern Pines, North Carolina
Martin Colony History: Started new colony at daughter's small farm in 2024. Acquired aluminum houses from landlords that have had failures or never were able to attract martins (wrong locations). Retrofitted entrance doors with 3/4" wooden blocks with entrance holes to increase insulation and add stability to the box. First ASYM arrived in late April, by June 1, 4 pairs= 3 ASYM's and 1 SYM. Biggest concern is predation by rat snakes. By June 1 still haven't developed a safe rat snake guard and count each day without predation as pure luck. First ASYM feeding first young on 5/26/24.

The two aluminum houses I have are on my daughter's horse farm and the poles are mounted to the pasture fence. The fence has an electric wire running across the top to keep the horses from chewing on the fence. So, I have electricity. We had gotten to the point in our thoughts of wrapping the poles in a bicycle tire inner tubes for insulation. Then wrapping hardware cloth around the rubber tubes with hose clamps and tighten the hardware cloth to the pole (and over the rubber insulation). Next, take a wire from the electric horse fence and attach it to the hardware cloth. So now we assume the hardware cloth is electrified but insulated from the martin house pole. So assuming a snake crawls up the fence first it may skip the bottom portion of the pole so we have the insulation and hardware cloth mounted above the top board of the fence....so maybe 5' above ground. Now when the snake starts up the pole he will be grounded by the martin house pole when he hits the hardware cloth. The question we are now dealing with is whether the martin house pole gets electrified through the body of the snake, and the current runs up the pole to the houses? Not a good scenario. Since the pole is resting on the ground (not buried in the ground) and attached to the fence, will the current run down to ground (path of least resistance) to the ground or throughout the pole?
Condorman
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 17, 2016 10:17 pm
Location: Southern Pines, North Carolina
Martin Colony History: Started new colony at daughter's small farm in 2024. Acquired aluminum houses from landlords that have had failures or never were able to attract martins (wrong locations). Retrofitted entrance doors with 3/4" wooden blocks with entrance holes to increase insulation and add stability to the box. First ASYM arrived in late April, by June 1, 4 pairs= 3 ASYM's and 1 SYM. Biggest concern is predation by rat snakes. By June 1 still haven't developed a safe rat snake guard and count each day without predation as pure luck. First ASYM feeding first young on 5/26/24.

The two aluminum houses I have are on my daughter's horse farm and the poles are mounted to the pasture fence. The fence has an electric wire running across the top to keep the horses from chewing on the fence. So, I have electricity. We had gotten to the point in our thoughts of wrapping the poles in a bicycle tire inner tubes for insulation. Then wrapping hardware cloth around the rubber tubes with hose clamps and tighten the hardware cloth to the pole (and over the rubber insulation). Next, take a wire from the electric horse fence and attach it to the hardware cloth. So now we assume the hardware cloth is electrified but insulated from the martin house pole. So assuming a snake crawls up the fence first it may skip the bottom portion of the pole so we have the insulation and hardware cloth mounted above the top board of the fence....so maybe 5' above ground. Now when the snake starts up the pole he will be grounded by the martin house pole when he hits the hardware cloth. The question we are now dealing with is whether the martin house pole gets electrified through the body of the snake, and the current runs up the pole to the houses? Not a good scenario. Since the pole is resting on the ground (not buried in the ground) and attached to the fence, will the current run down to ground (path of least resistance) to the ground or throughout the pole? Southern Pines, North Carolina.
Condorman
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 17, 2016 10:17 pm
Location: Southern Pines, North Carolina
Martin Colony History: Started new colony at daughter's small farm in 2024. Acquired aluminum houses from landlords that have had failures or never were able to attract martins (wrong locations). Retrofitted entrance doors with 3/4" wooden blocks with entrance holes to increase insulation and add stability to the box. First ASYM arrived in late April, by June 1, 4 pairs= 3 ASYM's and 1 SYM. Biggest concern is predation by rat snakes. By June 1 still haven't developed a safe rat snake guard and count each day without predation as pure luck. First ASYM feeding first young on 5/26/24.

The two aluminum houses I have are on my daughter's horse farm and the poles are mounted to the pasture fence. The fence has an electric wire running across the top to keep the horses from chewing on the fence. So, I have electricity. We had gotten to the point in our thoughts of wrapping the poles in a bicycle tire inner tubes for insulation. Then wrapping hardware cloth around the rubber tubes with hose clamps and tighten the hardware cloth to the pole (and over the rubber insulation). Next, take a wire from the electric horse fence and attach it to the hardware cloth. So now we assume the hardware cloth is electrified but insulated from the martin house pole. So assuming a snake crawls up the fence first it may skip the bottom portion of the pole so we have the insulation and hardware cloth mounted above the top board of the fence....so maybe 5' above ground. Now when the snake starts up the pole he will be grounded by the martin house pole when he hits the hardware cloth. The question we are now dealing with is whether the martin house pole gets electrified through the body of the snake, and the current runs up the pole to the houses? Not a good scenario. Since the pole is resting on the ground (not buried in the ground) and attached to the fence, will the current run down to ground (path of least resistance) to the ground or throughout the pole?
Thomabear
Posts: 417
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:10 am
Location: Cut Off, Louisiana

Condorman, as long as your pole is grounded it is impossible to electrify the house, even if the hot side (hardware cloth) comes in direct contact with the pole. Also, If you're going to wrap hardware cloth for the hot side, I would use stainless steel hardware cloth (no coating) and PVC pipe instead of rubber since the rubber will degrade quickly. Any short in your setup would not only stop your house setup from working but it would also render your livestock fence inoperable since your circuit would be paralleled with the fence.
2019- 6 Pair, 31 Hatched, 30 Fledged
2020- 8 Pair, 38 Hatched, 32 Fledged
2021- 10 Pair, 51 Hatched, 39 Fledged
HOSP count 130, Starlings 2
2022- 31 Pair, 154 Hatched, 146 Fledged
HOSP count to date 17, Starlings 1
2023- 28 Pair, 128 Hatched, 124 Fledged
HOSP count 47, Starlings 1

PMCA Member
Condorman
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 17, 2016 10:17 pm
Location: Southern Pines, North Carolina
Martin Colony History: Started new colony at daughter's small farm in 2024. Acquired aluminum houses from landlords that have had failures or never were able to attract martins (wrong locations). Retrofitted entrance doors with 3/4" wooden blocks with entrance holes to increase insulation and add stability to the box. First ASYM arrived in late April, by June 1, 4 pairs= 3 ASYM's and 1 SYM. Biggest concern is predation by rat snakes. By June 1 still haven't developed a safe rat snake guard and count each day without predation as pure luck. First ASYM feeding first young on 5/26/24.

Thomabear,

Thanks so much for your reply. We just wanted to get some feedback that we were on the right path. We're heading out now to set it up. Its is kind of a RubeGoldberg set up but I just wanted to get the birds protected over the next month and a half while there will be young in the nests. (We're adjacent to a large preserve and there are lots of rat snakes so it's just a matter of time before one keys in on the house). Then over the winter I'll come up with something a little more solid. Thanks again.
Condorman
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 17, 2016 10:17 pm
Location: Southern Pines, North Carolina
Martin Colony History: Started new colony at daughter's small farm in 2024. Acquired aluminum houses from landlords that have had failures or never were able to attract martins (wrong locations). Retrofitted entrance doors with 3/4" wooden blocks with entrance holes to increase insulation and add stability to the box. First ASYM arrived in late April, by June 1, 4 pairs= 3 ASYM's and 1 SYM. Biggest concern is predation by rat snakes. By June 1 still haven't developed a safe rat snake guard and count each day without predation as pure luck. First ASYM feeding first young on 5/26/24.

In case you're in a desperate situation with snakes getting up to or about to get up to your martin housed here's a case where we quickly tied into a livestock fence. The pole is wrapped in a 2' piece of rubberized mat taped in place with rubberized duct tape, then that's wrapped in stainless steel hardware cloth and cinched to the pole with hose clamps. The hot wire is wrapped around the stem of a bolt which is fed through the hardware cloth and cinched down tight with a nut. Then the "to be" hot wire is wrapped around the live livestock hot wire and the current flipped on.
Condorman
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 17, 2016 10:17 pm
Location: Southern Pines, North Carolina
Martin Colony History: Started new colony at daughter's small farm in 2024. Acquired aluminum houses from landlords that have had failures or never were able to attract martins (wrong locations). Retrofitted entrance doors with 3/4" wooden blocks with entrance holes to increase insulation and add stability to the box. First ASYM arrived in late April, by June 1, 4 pairs= 3 ASYM's and 1 SYM. Biggest concern is predation by rat snakes. By June 1 still haven't developed a safe rat snake guard and count each day without predation as pure luck. First ASYM feeding first young on 5/26/24.

As a follow-up this colony eventually had 4 pair, and as of this date all pairs were successful. Young are fledging as of this date, 7/02-03/24. It's interesting to note that just within the past two days the adults have stopped spending the night at the colony and depart about 1/2 before dusk. Last night after the female escorted the fledged young back to the colony for the night she departed also, and I never saw the male. Seems like quite possibly birds are starting to use their late summer communal tree roost somewhere close by.
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