Once upon a time, a Raven got his birdie caught in a crack in a stone. He cried and he cried. The Martin flew by and only laughed at the Raven. Darkness fell and the Raven was sure he would be a big black feather ball in some predator's dung. Then, he heard the Chicken Snake hiss, "For one of your black feathers, I will release you." The Raven raised a wing and plucked out a beautiful black feather and gave it to the Chicken Snake. The Chicken Snake wrapped around him and pulled his birdie out. From that day hence, the Raven and the Chicken Snake have been friends. The Raven and Martin are enemies.
Few years ago a storm came through in the summer and blew one of the houses over. There were half grown martin chicks all over, not sure if any made it. All the martins left after that, and the following year I only had a fraction of what normally came to nest. Last year it was finally back to normal. Saw my first pair here last week. They aren't staying here yet, but saw them again Sunday. They have as tough time with the starlings.
Last summer during the droughty times. All of the martins that had fledged took off, way early compared to usual. Didn;t come back around last year and haven't seen them this year. A guy up the road used to have close to 50 nests. Last uear he had 3-4 pair and I haven;t deen any this year yet.
Sad about the Martins. When I was a kid we always had Martins. If memory serves, a scout always came first & checked everything out. Don't know exactly what he was looking for, besides a nice Martin house. As mentioned in other post, the starlings were always a problem.
I've had Martins for 22 yrs now. I clean mine out every year. I have real gourds, they seem to like them better. I had a king snake get in mine 2 yrs ago. I got him out and carried him to the barn. I put a piece of metal around mine pole like a big funnel, you might say. No more trouble. My Martin pole is in the middle or the pasture away from Anything.