Starling Control

StarlingWhen I built my first house with large 11 inch deep compartments, I soon found that the Starlings loved the large deep compartments just as much as the Martins did. (European Starlings can easily be identified with their long pointed yellow beaks. Adult male Martins have shorter black colored beaks). European Starlings as their name suggests are non native to North America and are considered a pest so it is perfectly legal to trap, shoot or kill this species. These Needle Beaks, are one of the Martins worst enemies, they will kill a Martin in seconds if they get in a fight with them inside the compartment. But after hearing about a great invention by Charles McEwen, 1992 PMCA LANDLORD OF THE YEAR, from Moncton, New Brunswick , I thought I would give the Crescent Shaped Starling Resistant Entrance Hole (SREH) a try.

I started off by offering just a few crescent SREH the first year leaving the majority of the compartments with the round entrances. On the very first day of their spring arrival, I was amazed to see the old Adult Males and females entering these Crescent shaped entrance holes with ease. The females were the first to enter, and of course it didn't take but a minute or so for the males to follow the females in. Nearly all the SREH compartments were chosen by the females that year and they nested successfully. It makes sense that the females felt far more safe inside these compartments, as they new a Starling could not enter them and attack them when they are incubating eggs. Also it is impossible for a Hawk , Owl, Merlin or Crow to be able to reach in far enough through the entrance and pull them or their nestlings out of the compartment, as they sometimes did with the round entrance holes. The young Sub adult (SY) birds arrived later and also excepted them, not to my surprise, as the younger generation always adapt to any new changes more easily.

The McEwen crescent shaped SREH must be exactly 1 3/16" or 30mm high and is 3" wide at the bottom. They must be mounted low, 3/8" above the porch floor as the Martins have to crouch down for easy entry. If the SREH is to high off the porch (more than ½" ) the Martins have too much difficulty entering them. I have tested them at different heights off the porch and found 3/8" above the porch works the best, as the Martins enter them with no problem at all, and the entrance is still high enough to keep rain water from running into the compartment from the porch floor. After watching the Martins at active colony sites and also watching them except these entrances so easily at new colony sites, I am totally convinced that I will never build another house with the old round entrances.

I have watched hundreds of Starlings try to enter them and fail, as there long legs and larger bodies make it nearly impossible to enter. I say nearly impossible, because on rare occasions a skinny Starling has been reported to squeeze in, but usually they give up and go somewhere else as they are unable to carry any nest material through the SREH. The McEwen crescent SREH has been tried by many landlords all over North America and has been rated as 95% Starling resistant. All of my houses are now equipped with SREH and my Martins love me for it.

starling resistant entry holes
McEwen SREH Plate
starling resistant entry holes
Triple Nickel SREH Plate

Private Eye SREH Plate

Club House SREH Plate

After years of testing, I now use and sell 4 styles of Starling resistant entrance holes (SREH). The "McEwen", the "Triple Nickel", the " Private Eye", and the "Clubhouse". The later two were designed with help from my good friends on the internet "Clubhouse forum". We put our heads together, underwent extensive testing, and came up with these two designs that work great, and are sharing the idea with all of you. What a great bunch of Martin loving people. All of these entrances work very well and are accepted equally by the Purple Martins. I have not yet decided which is the best entrance, but I know one thing for sure........ no more round entrances! Using round entrance holes on large compartment housing is suicide for Martins. Maybe you would like to try all 4 SREH on your new house and let me know which is your favourite SREH. I make these SREH plates myself, they are made of 1/8" thick arena board and will last a life time. They cost $2.00 /piece. If you wish to purchase them, I can mail them to you by Canada post. Select any style you like or I can mix them up if you want.

Troyer S&S ControllerNo matter what style of SREH you choose to use, you should always back it up with a Starling trap. Your SREH will not be 100% Starling proof unless you use one of the following Starling traps together with the SREH on your Martin house.

The TROYER S&S CONTROLLER (Click on picture to see larger). I built this trap from plans I purchased from the Purple Martin Conservation Association. Or search on the internet for similar traps.

Using the SREH on my housing, the Starling tries to enter one of the compartments and can't, they look around and then head straight for the S&S Controller, set up on the edge of the trees, still equipped with the 2 inch round entrance hole, and in they go. Seconds later they fall down the PVC tube and into a holding cage, just 4 feet off the ground. When I see one in the trap, I simply remove it and destroy it, the trap automatically resets itself....... it's just that easy. You will totally eliminated your Starling problems by using the SREH in your Martin housing and backing them up with a good Starling trap.

portable starling trapFor those of you that want to knock off a few Starlings and don't want to bother with an S&S Controller. I have portable Starling traps available. They also work very well together with the SREH on my houses. Contact me for a price if you wish. This trap works great placed about 8 or 10 feet off the ground close to trees and in sight of your Purple Martin house. You will trap Starlings like crazy with this little Gem. Be certain to monitor it daily, with the 2 inch entrance you may trap the odd Martin. The 2 liter glass pickle jar and a can of (either) starting fluid is all you need to put those Starlings to sleep for good.

House Sparrow Control
Tree Swallow Control
Sparrow Shutter for the Troyer S&S Controller

Back to Starling and Sparrow Control

Bob Buskas
R.R.2 Wetaskiwin
Alberta, Canada
T9A 1W9

Phone: (780) 352-2783
Northern Sky's Purple Martin Colony
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