Multiple states two weeks ahead of schedule!

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mwren
Posts: 108
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:43 pm
Location: OH/Athens
Martin Colony History: I have had my martin colony on the dam of one of my ponds for nine years. The colony has grown each year, but I am now concentrating on helping friends and acquaintances who have shown interests in martins. My colony consists of three T-14's with 8 Troyer gourds attatched to each T-14, a Troyer gourd rack with 12 gourds, and another gourd rack with 18 Troyer gourds for a total of 96 nest cavities. I am having serious predation issues with hawks and owls and am experimenting with various hawk guards and "screens". Established successful supplemental feeding last season during late march and had a blast flipping mostly meal worms and some crickets. Faculty from Ohio University are using my colony as a research site to study parasites that target cavity nesting birds. In exchange for access to my bird trail nest boxes and martin housing, they are banding all birds involved in their study.

After reviewing the map of historical arrival dates, it surely appears that we are 10 days to two weeks early across the mid south states and west into Oklahoma. Hopefully they will slow down before they get too far north in early March when Ohio weather can be deadly to insectivores.
Better be prepared to do some supplemental feeding if this "early" trend continues.! Good luck to all!

"Bird"
Mike "Bird" Wren
Rafke77
Posts: 29
Joined: Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:47 pm
Location: Plymouth, IN
Martin Colony History: Year 1: 10 pair, 24 fledged, 15 eggs non-viable

Your post is something I've been thinking of for a while. Not that they might be here too early, but the idea of supplemental feeding. I fully understand maybe if there is a highly unusual cold front in May that lasts a week or more here in the northern states.

I've been wondering if people supplementing food while the weather is still too cool for insects encourages the birds to be more confident in arriving earlier then they should. So if the generation that does supplemental feeding moves on and is replaced by someone who doesn't, that might be catastrophic for the Martins.

Just my personal opinion to let nature guide them here at the pace of the insects coming out of hibernation. Maybe this could be a small part of their decline, arriving too early expecting humans to feed them, maybe some people don't and now that female bird that would have hatched 6 fledgeling, is dead.

Just a thought.

-Rob
2019 first time with Martin's, first arrived 4/24 10 pair, 24 fledged, 15 eggs non-viable
2020 first arrived 3/27
Dave Duit
Posts: 1757
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

Hi Rafke,
Supplement feeding will not cause martins to migrate any earlier than usual. Martins move north at a rate of insect availability, temps, daylight length and drive to find the best possible cavity. Supplement feeding doesn't interfere with the instincts and drive of their migration. I always supplement feed to keep them alive. The martin population as a whole has been in decline for years and we need to do everything to keep it as the highest we can with any aid we can offer.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
jhcox
Posts: 494
Joined: Thu May 26, 2016 9:23 am
Location: tennesse
Martin Colony History: Started colony in 2014. First pair to stay and raise young in 2018.

I know that most birds that are feed by humans just like animals will get humanized and will become dependent on this food over a period of time. So I tend to agree with Rafke77.
Rafke77
Posts: 29
Joined: Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:47 pm
Location: Plymouth, IN
Martin Colony History: Year 1: 10 pair, 24 fledged, 15 eggs non-viable

And maybe this is why, since way back with the Native Americans making gourds for the Martins, they've adapted to being more comfortable around humans and prefer to live by humans, adaptation over time. Just as animals within a major city adapt to coming up to people. It's very hard to get a squirrel to come up to you in the woods of Indiana as opposed to one in NYC.

It's just a thought I had. I fully understand your point of them following insect patterns. However if they come north earlier because they are used to, and adapting to fed earlier, it could kill of the weaker ones which otherwise would have survived.

I'm all for helping save the Martin population and contribute to controlling Starling and Sparrow. I purchased the repeating Sparrow trap last year when I realized how much of a problem they are, and killed off numerous sparrows and will continue this this year despite one of my neighbors not liking it too much lol. I was lucky enough my first year to have 10 pair, I'm hoping to continue this trend, this year with more and then to expand to another rack. I will do my best to help boost their numbers!

*Edit
I'm not claiming that what I think is the way it is or that it's facts. I maybe very well wrong and far off. It's just my observations over time that makes me think it might be a cause, or a factor. I'm still very new to the Martin scene, but have done a lot of research, but research sometimes is very different to practical.
2019 first time with Martin's, first arrived 4/24 10 pair, 24 fledged, 15 eggs non-viable
2020 first arrived 3/27
Doug Martin - PA
Posts: 1920
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:47 am
Location: Pennsylvania/Fombell
Martin Colony History: First pair in 2009 after 28 years of trying. 3 pairs 2010, 17 pairs 2011 and 35-45 pairs since. Many additional colonies are now springing up around mine in an area once completely void of Martins. I offer 50 compartments at my site consisting of primarily Excluder II gourds on Gemini racks. Also a wooden T-14. I utilize electric fence type predator guards on the base of the poles. Supplemental feeding is crucial in maintaining my colony. I platform feed throughout the season as needed. My site tends to be a stop over point for additional birds as they migrate further north.

Yes this will be an early year due to the warmer weather pattern . That is what I am expecting.

The Purple Martin is 100 percent dependent on man for its survival and housing. It is a very unique relationship. The Indians likely fed them too if needed.

There are areas of the country and Canada that failure to supplemental feed would only mean their demise. Those that don't have to feed are lucky in my opinion. All successful colonies in my region tend to supplemental feed unless located on large bodies of water where insects may be more available during poor weather. The population is growing at a good rate in my area where the population was once very poor.

It is the landlord's choice to supplemental feed or not. Those that don't will likely have huge losses in any given year or be unable to support a colony at all in certain areas. So the rule is not the same across the board. It tends to be geographical.

I feed my birds. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You can now get a colony started first year in this area due to the overflow of population. It took me 28 years to start my colony 10 years ago. I was the first in Beaver County PA to establish a colony. Now there are several.

Those that want to just let nature take it's course and wipe out their colony from a cold spell have that right to do so. Personally I do not let any birds starve to death here. There is no need to do so. It is however very frustrating to teach them initially.

Doug
Supplemental feeding plays a major role in western Pennsylvania. Finally got my 1st pair in 2009 after 28 years of effort. 3 pairs in 2010. 17 pairs in 2011. 35 pairs and 150 young in 2012 & 2013. Plus a new 22 pair colony right down the road from me.
mwren
Posts: 108
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:43 pm
Location: OH/Athens
Martin Colony History: I have had my martin colony on the dam of one of my ponds for nine years. The colony has grown each year, but I am now concentrating on helping friends and acquaintances who have shown interests in martins. My colony consists of three T-14's with 8 Troyer gourds attatched to each T-14, a Troyer gourd rack with 12 gourds, and another gourd rack with 18 Troyer gourds for a total of 96 nest cavities. I am having serious predation issues with hawks and owls and am experimenting with various hawk guards and "screens". Established successful supplemental feeding last season during late march and had a blast flipping mostly meal worms and some crickets. Faculty from Ohio University are using my colony as a research site to study parasites that target cavity nesting birds. In exchange for access to my bird trail nest boxes and martin housing, they are banding all birds involved in their study.

Doug, as you already know, I am with you 100% on the importance of supplemental feeding when and where needed. I had one serious "die-off" a number of years ago before I learned that it was possible to intervene. The one thing that you failed to mention was how much fun it is to have your birds figure out just what you are trying to do with the "flipping spoon" out in the middle of the colony. Some serious fun !!

Bird
Mike "Bird" Wren
jhcox
Posts: 494
Joined: Thu May 26, 2016 9:23 am
Location: tennesse
Martin Colony History: Started colony in 2014. First pair to stay and raise young in 2018.

It’s amazing to me to believe these birds were not extinct thousand of years with no one here to feed them. How did they ever make it with out mans help before man intervened. God made the birds to be self sustaining from the beginning. They have only been trained by man to do this because we have the urge to always intervene when we think a bird or animal needs our help when most of the time they do not. Just like my aunt she found a young fawn laid in the grass in the backfield and thought it needed her help when it was only been camouflaged by the grass until his mother returned. They got it and put it in a cage and the mother was unable to retrieve it when she came back. It took me two days to convince her to put the phone back where she found it in the mother would come get it. After doing so within an hour the mother had come back and got it baby nature took its course.
Spiderman
Posts: 778
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:19 am
Location: Gladewater, Texas

I understand all of the comments above. I will say that when you have Martins and they are unable to feed for 3 days, you have a choice. You will either feed them or watch them die.

I feed a group years ago and they were eager to learn how and eat flipped crickets. After the cold rainy weather had passed they would hover in front of my face wanting handouts. For landlords that have had Martins for a long time, it's pretty cool when they come to you and you actually feel like a part of the group.

So we all have different experiences to draw from.
2008 - 33 PAIR - FLEDGED 96 YOUNG
2009 - 51 PAIR - FLEDGED 166 YOUNG
2010 - 45 PAIR - FLEDGED 146 YOUNG
2011 - 33 PAIR - 128 HATCHED, 97 FLEDGED
2012 - 37 PAIR - 119 HATCHED, 101 FLEDGED
jhcox
Posts: 494
Joined: Thu May 26, 2016 9:23 am
Location: tennesse
Martin Colony History: Started colony in 2014. First pair to stay and raise young in 2018.

So you have trained them and they have become dependent on you now so they are seeking the food from instead of hunting it naturally.
Dave Reynolds
Posts: 1886
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:35 pm
Location: Little Hocking, Oh.
Martin Colony History: 2018 Success at my Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”.
2019 Success at my home Site "Little Hocking, Ohio".

.... Mike .... Your right on the marching of the Purple Martins Northward... It’s seems like we talk about this every year.. Will they get here to soon.. .. For my area here, it seems the early ones arrive around first week in March.. Then the average early Martins arrivals around the second or third week of March, when the weather seems just right for us.. Any way I just put up my two T-14’s and my gourd rack today ... just in case they come early and need a warm place to hang out.. Good luck and have a great season...
Home Site “Little Hocking, Ohio”
2010 / 2018 -- Lots of Visitors
2019 — 1 Pair, 5 Eggs, 5 Babies, 5 fledged. :wink:
2020 — 1 Pair, 4 Eggs, 4 Babies, 4 fledged. :wink:
2021 — Waiting on March 2021

Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”
2018 -- 15 Pair, 58 Eggs, 38 Hatched and 36 Fledged :wink:
2019 — 26 Pair, 128 Eggs, 99 Babies and 97 Fledged. :wink:
2020 — 30 Pair, 156 Eggs, 137 Babies and 137 Fledged. :wink:
2021 — Waiting on March 2021

PMCA Member
mwren
Posts: 108
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:43 pm
Location: OH/Athens
Martin Colony History: I have had my martin colony on the dam of one of my ponds for nine years. The colony has grown each year, but I am now concentrating on helping friends and acquaintances who have shown interests in martins. My colony consists of three T-14's with 8 Troyer gourds attatched to each T-14, a Troyer gourd rack with 12 gourds, and another gourd rack with 18 Troyer gourds for a total of 96 nest cavities. I am having serious predation issues with hawks and owls and am experimenting with various hawk guards and "screens". Established successful supplemental feeding last season during late march and had a blast flipping mostly meal worms and some crickets. Faculty from Ohio University are using my colony as a research site to study parasites that target cavity nesting birds. In exchange for access to my bird trail nest boxes and martin housing, they are banding all birds involved in their study.

jhcox, It takes the martins very little time to understand that the insects are flying again and they return to their instinctive feeding patterns.
As the weather warms, it is a matter of a day, or maybe even hours and our birds are airborne and hunting down food as it is available to birds still strong enough to pursue the insects. When severe cold and snow hits colonies AFTER birds have arrived up here " ahead of schedule", we have two choices; Provide crickets or mealworms to birds who are still strong enough to feed until the weather warms, or do nothing and then remove the dead birds from your housing and hope that maybe other birds will find your colony next year, or maybe a couple of years down the road.
P.S. I do not pick up day old fawns and put them in my barn. However I do occasionaly stop and remove box turtles from a busy road. I am guilty as charged.

Bird
Mike "Bird" Wren
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

This topic is discussed every year, it seems - some think supplemental feeding causes martins to return earlier than they would have returned without feeding, and therefore feeding is not good for martins in the long run.

Looking at the bigger picture, long term, too few landlords feed to make any difference to return rates. Most landlords do not practice supplemental feeding. And oftentimes, feeding takes place not during first arrivals, but much later in the spring - March and April, when more birds are back and late spring storms can really hammer the birds. Bad weather in June caused much of the martin losses up in New England and provinces like New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

If landlords choose to offer supplemental food to their martins, they should not worry that the practice will weaken martins overall. My two cents, based on 30+ years of working with martins, researchers, and the PMCA. (now happily retired but still managing martins :) )
Dave Duit
Posts: 1757
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

Thanks Louise,
I always look forward to your input and background. Much appreciated.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2939
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

It would be impossible to do but I bet if you took a pole of every person in the country that had martins on their property a huge majority of them do not feed and are not as active with their martins as the members of this forum are. I am also speculating that overall the average return dates of those that have been feed in the past and those that haven't is close to the same. I have been fortunate that in over 10 years with martins I have only had to feed one time. They took to it quickly and I am sure I save my colony by doing so. I would only feed if it got to the point of survival for the birds.
2020 Currently 42 nest, 110 babies, 64 eggs left to hatch(6-22-20) HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
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.
mwren
Posts: 108
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:43 pm
Location: OH/Athens
Martin Colony History: I have had my martin colony on the dam of one of my ponds for nine years. The colony has grown each year, but I am now concentrating on helping friends and acquaintances who have shown interests in martins. My colony consists of three T-14's with 8 Troyer gourds attatched to each T-14, a Troyer gourd rack with 12 gourds, and another gourd rack with 18 Troyer gourds for a total of 96 nest cavities. I am having serious predation issues with hawks and owls and am experimenting with various hawk guards and "screens". Established successful supplemental feeding last season during late march and had a blast flipping mostly meal worms and some crickets. Faculty from Ohio University are using my colony as a research site to study parasites that target cavity nesting birds. In exchange for access to my bird trail nest boxes and martin housing, they are banding all birds involved in their study.

Louise,
Thank you for your input on this topic, and more importantly thanks for all that you have done over the the years for the Purple Martin.
I agree with you 100% that there are not enough landlords who are supplemental feeding that would impact or change the colonies in a negative way. It can be a difficult process to teach your birds to accept your offerings, and timming is everything. When the bad weather hits and drives the insects to the ground, for the first couple of days, the martins may not pay any attention to your efforts. As their condition deteriorates, say day 2.5 to 3.5 without food, their posture on the perches or porches changes drastically. Now they may have just enough strength to fly well enough to catch flipped crickets or mealies, but not much more. This is when they can learn to take supplemental feeding. Beyond day 4 to 6 they most likely will not have enough strength reserve to fly effectively. When we have those freaky March storms, and winter type weather here in Ohio, I am going to do all that I can to help insure that my colony has a chance to survive.
Mike "Bird" Wren
ToyinPA
Posts: 2126
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

I've had martins return & a few days later have a snow storm & freezing temps that can last for days. Other times it's days of cold rain. I've had martins arrive that look like they've been thru a major battle. Wings drooped, thin, feathers in bad shape. Some survive, others do not. Those that are just stopping over stay a day or so, fed up & move on north. There's no way any of them would survive had I not supplement fed them. They will only take supplement food if they can't get food on their own. They prefer to eat dragonflies & other insects compared to crickets.

Another major issues is the lack of insects. Pesticides & fracking have greatly reduced the amount of insects in my area. It's having an affect on all songbirds.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Feeding Martins would only make the Martins at the colony that's fed return earlier. The reason that it will make them return earlier isn't that they know feed is available, it's because it's keeping that older age class of birds alive. They aren't flying north and starving, so they have an opportunity to live another year and return possibly a little earlier the next year. There will never be enough landlords feeding to influence the entire migration pattern. Their timing on leaving South America is hardwired in their brain, that timing supposedly just gets earlier with age. They aren't sitting in Brazil thinking, "hey we can go ahead and head on up to Canada now because our landlord feeds us and we won't starve if we get there too early."
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
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