Martins won't stay

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dirty gardener
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:45 am
Location: Ocala, FL USA

Martins won't stay

Postby dirty gardener » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:01 am

I've had the same metal 2 story Martin house for 4 years. Last year I really cleaned the house out after the birds left. A couple of weeks ago, 6 birds arrived - as expected. They were here for a couple of days and then left. They've come back very briefly a few days, but don't appear happy here now. Late last evening, I saw several of them soaring high above the house, but they never came to the house. My husband says I shouldn't have used bleach to clean the house last summer, but I wouldn't think that would make a difference, since the house is metal and we did rinse it out afterwards. Why won't they stay - any ideas?

Nikkidodi - SATX
Posts: 38
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:40 pm
Location: TX/San Antonio

Re: Martins won't stay

Postby Nikkidodi - SATX » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:57 am

Not an expert by any means, but I've always used bleach to clean my houses and gourds and it doesn't seem to bother my tenants. Any remnant of bleach left after thorough rinsing is probably broken down after exposure to UV sunlight for a day or two. It could be that they are not sticking around just yet because they are looking for females to share their new home and the females aren't here yet. The fact that they are flying over your houses and are keeping an eye on them is a good thing. Hang in there.

dirty gardener
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:45 am
Location: Ocala, FL USA

Re: Martins won't stay

Postby dirty gardener » Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:38 am

Thanks. This hasn't happened in the past. I thought the hurricane Florida experienced this summer might have had something to do with it. My husband wants to check the house again and possibly wash it more with fresh water. I might have to comply. Nothing left to do, but wait.

Posts: 269
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:26 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX
Martin Colony History: ................

2018: 11 pairs - 43 fledged
2017: 4 pairs - 17 fledged

Re: Martins won't stay

Postby -=DKC=- » Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:49 am

All remnants of bleach should be long gone by now. I wouldn't think that's the problem, although many people like to leave some evidence of last year's occupancy in the compartments. That's what I did this year and my birds seem happy with them.

As Nikkidodi - SATX said, they may just be hanging around the neighborhood and will take up residence later.

A few ideas from a novice landlord...

Check the compartments to make sure there are no mites, ants, wasps, blowflies, etc.

Do you have trees that have grown and are now closer?

Is there anything else that has changed at your site?

Do you have predators hanging around your yard?

Are House Sparrows or Starlings chasing them away?

Just brainstorming here.
Last edited by -=DKC=- on Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
"If at first you don't succeed, keep on suckin' till you do succeed." - Curly Howard

Posts: 269
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:26 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX
Martin Colony History: ................

2018: 11 pairs - 43 fledged
2017: 4 pairs - 17 fledged

Re: Martins won't stay

Postby -=DKC=- » Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:50 am

Dupe. Sorry.
"If at first you don't succeed, keep on suckin' till you do succeed." - Curly Howard

Posts: 631
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:09 pm
Location: Manitoba/Altona
Martin Colony History: six pair in 2014, have grown to 52 pairs in 2017.

Re: Martins won't stay

Postby Archer » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:34 pm

Sometimes, the first birds are not actually from your colony. They may just be taking a rest day or two and then moving on with the migration. Hopefully that is what is happening here. I don't know what your weather has been like, but when it gets cold, martins gather together in groups to try and stay warm, when it warms up they get back to business. Don't think the bleach has anything to do with it. Birds in general have poor sense of smell.
2011- first year trying, a few visitors.
2012-One ASY pair, raised two young, lots of subby visitors. So thankfull.
2013-daily subby visits.
2014-Six SY pairs
2015-18 pair, 83 fledglings
2016-36 pair, 147 fledglings
2017-52 pairs, 192 fledglings.
2018-60 pair, 246 fledglings.

Ed Svetich-WI
Posts: 700
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 10:05 pm
Location: Brooks, Wi (McGinnis Lake)
Martin Colony History: 24 Super and Excluder Gourds on two gourd racks, all SREH. Full occupancy. My philosophy is to maximize fledge % with existing cavities rather than adding gourds to grow colony, thus providing opportunities for new colony expansion. Fledge over 100 nestlings yearly from 24 gourds. Band nestlings in cooperation with state university.

Re: Martins won't stay

Postby Ed Svetich-WI » Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:38 pm

Please describe your setup: how far from buildings, trees, shrubs,do you build prenests, how large are the cavities, how high off the ground, do you use any attraction devices such as Dawn Song? Are there any active colonies nearby? Bleach is a non issue.


Posts: 1150
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

Re: Martins won't stay

Postby rrmartins » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:11 pm

How close is the nearest water?
12 pair
53 fledged

John Miller
Posts: 4688
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Martins won't stay

Postby John Miller » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:17 pm

As Ed said, make your site as inviting as you can.

I suspect that Florida martins have a wider time window of returns and settling in. the further north you go in the martin range, the window narrows and martins may more often settle in right away.

John M

Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:29 am
Location: north central, ARK
Martin Colony History: 15 year landlord
117 babies in 2017
bio gourds 11 inch, on pushup poles
adding a winch pole for 2018, 24 more gourds

Re: Martins won't stay

Postby flexauger » Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:38 am

I have also always used bleach in the fall to clean my gourds when taken down for the winter, in the spring i put a small handful of nest material and i usually give it a good "puff" of sevin dust from a little duster/puffer thingie like terminex uses to puff into cracks. I dont think the sevin dust has ever bothered them, i think it helps knock the mites down off the adults when they arrive, i usually give them another puff after the babies are born after they get mostly covered in feathers. Those mites can really explode and cause alot of misery im sure for the young who cannot escape them.
I remember when i used those barn looking houses that they didnt stay in them much, since ive switched to gourds they go right in, they may check out a few others but since they are all the same mostly, they pick pretty fast and sometimes spend hours in them, the males after they first arrive, i suppose they are resting up and saving their energy since there arent alot of bugs yet.
I am sure with your nice houses they will have tenants, you might consider hanging a few gourds underneath your houses, give them something to chose from and you can evaluate gourds vrs houses.
Good luck and happy landlording!

Posts: 313
Joined: Tue May 10, 2016 10:21 pm
Location: Fairland OK
Martin Colony History: Mom n Dad had a plastic 12 unit martin house with some martins as long as I can remember. In 2013 they had 1 pair. I don't think they fledged any. I then started learning how to take care of martins and in 2014 we took that house down and put up a Troyer 18 gourd rack. We had 7 pair with 28 fledged.That summer I built a T-14 (I was only 12). I was also given 4 natural gourds that I hung beneath the T-14. In 2015, we had 23 pair although only 22 pair fledged young. They fledged 88 young. In 2016, we had 36 pair, 210 eggs, 163 hatched, 149 fledge!! One pair fledged 2 broods. In 2017, I had 36 pair with 35 fledging young. They laid 204 eggs, hatched 155, and fledged 152.

Re: Martins won't stay

Postby marcus » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:54 am

Did you have nesting martins last year?

Posts: 2324
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Re: Martins won't stay

Postby flyin-lowe » Sat Mar 17, 2018 9:46 am

Every colony is different but when I had my old colony before I moved I would have martins return and after a day or so they would disappear for a couple days, only stopping by briefly each day or two. After 4-5 days they would stay and get things ready for nesting. It was almost like they would stop in to check on their housing and then roost in groups somewhere the first few days.
As others have said the bleach would be gone by now, and the site fidelity they show is strong enough that they would not abandon a site because of a lack of nesting material or the house being cleaner then they want. So to me those were either not the same martins you had last year, or if they ware they will be back in a day or two. Unless they suffered from predation at the end of last season, that could cause them not to come back this spring....
2018- 15 pair last count 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional SY's stayed all summer but never paired/nested.
2016 1 pair fledged 4
2015 Visitors
2014 Visitors
2013 Moved 6 miles away, 1 pair fledged 2.
2012 30 pair fledged 100.
2011 12 pair (11 that nested), 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair, 21 eggs, 16 hatched, 14 fledged.

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