Tree swallows and Martins?

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susanw77
Posts: 30
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2020 11:39 am
Location: Radford, VA
Martin Colony History: Lucky to have inherited an established colony in a lakefront Heath house, 18 units. 2020 was my first full season, mostly observing. Still learning how to be a responsible landlord.

Thanks again to everyone who gave me guidance on my martin house earlier this year. For those who don’t remember, I am a lady in my 60s who moved into a lakefront house last spring that had an existing but dilapidated Heath house. Many dark birds moved in, and I assume they were martins. They did chatter very cheerfully all summer. But I was so busy trying to survive the move, I didn’t give it much thought.

This year life slowed down, and I found this website. After reading, I felt I should replace the Heath house and add a winch system, but family circumstances and a lack of mechanical skill thwarted me. I did, however, manage to get the old house down, cleaned, and pre-nested with white pine needles. I also replaced some missing floorboards and all the picket rails by purchasing parts from Heath. Everything was finished by mid-February. And then . . . no martins. Everyone around me got their martins. Nothing here. I decided the new railings had confused them.

Around April 5, we had two barn swallows hanging about for three days, but they moved on. Five days later, four tree swallows took up residence in the empty house. I did not have the heart to dissuade them although maybe I should have. And I’m told it is unusual for tree swallow pairs to nest together, but they did, and they definitely were not martins.

Now, this morning, it looks as if at least three martins are sitting on the porches and going in and out of the apartments. They may have come across the fence from the neighbor’s as his houses appear to be crowded. The martins are perching with the tree swallows and seem perfectly happy together. Next year I will try to put up a couple of tree swallows houses nearby. But for now, this is what I have. I have heard martins and tree swallows will sometimes share a house. Is there any hope the martins will stay?
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2939
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Any chance you could snap some pictures of the birds you are seeing and post them.? A couple things come to mind to me. If the birds you had there last year were indeed martins and they returned this year a small change to the house like railings would not cause them to leave. One time I have had two pair of tree swallows nest in the same gourd rack so that can happen, but like you mentioned it is very rare. Lastly if the 2 pair you do have this year are indeed tree swallows and then new martins showed up the tree swallows would typically try to run the new martins off. I have an existing colony and multiple pair of tree swallows nearby. They will perch close to each other but it is pretty rare to see them intermingling with each other very often.
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.
susanw77
Posts: 30
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2020 11:39 am
Location: Radford, VA
Martin Colony History: Lucky to have inherited an established colony in a lakefront Heath house, 18 units. 2020 was my first full season, mostly observing. Still learning how to be a responsible landlord.

Thanks for your insight. I doubt I can get a decent picture due to the distance but I will give it a shot with my trusty iPhone. I watch the birds through a monocular or a short telescope from my upper deck about 50 yards away I am 100% certain I have at least three tree swallows, and I believe four — their chests, throats, and chins are brilliant bright white and their backs, necks, and caps are iridescent blue, with darker wing edges. The new birds are harder to make out but I was 80% certain one was a big, solid dark purple-blue. It is raining here now and turning dark. I will look hard again tomorrow. Hopefully he will stay. Again, thanks.
Spiderman
Posts: 778
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:19 am
Location: Gladewater, Texas

As long as the "dark birds" don't have yellow or orange beaks your in good shape.

If they do they are Starlings.
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
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2939
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Also I am not sure if there are any limitations but more likely than not if they are martins or tree swallows you can usually walk very close to them and get a picture, like within a couple feet of the pole. Starlings and other birds not so much.
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.
susanw77
Posts: 30
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2020 11:39 am
Location: Radford, VA
Martin Colony History: Lucky to have inherited an established colony in a lakefront Heath house, 18 units. 2020 was my first full season, mostly observing. Still learning how to be a responsible landlord.

No yellow beaks, for sure! These new guys are pretty big birds — maybe bigger than the tree swallows. One of them, the one I believe is a female Martin — sat in a compartment facing my deck for a good while this morning while a darker, glossy bird perched just beyond her door, protectively, I thought. It was either a male Martin or a tree swallow. When she came out, they took off together and I couldn’t see his underbelly. Maybe it was a tree swallow staring in, and trying to intimidate her? But they looked friendly enough. No flapping or squawking.

It’s dreary and windy again today. Next sunny day that the grass is dry, I will take my phone and a chair down by the water and see what I can shoot pictures of. Thank you all so much.
SSMartin
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

Martins are larger then tree swallows. The male and female Martin are the same size. It sounds like you have a pair of martins. Listen for the males song Good luck
Jones4381
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:54 pm
Location: Rocky Mount VA
Martin Colony History: Newbie 51 years old and stumbled onto this by accident. Amazing bird. Just wanna help and give/receive happiness and be one with nature. Don't mind shooting an intruder of any kind though. Have a blessed day.

susanw77 wrote:
Sun Apr 26, 2020 11:59 am
No yellow beaks, for sure! These new guys are pretty big birds — maybe bigger than the tree swallows. One of them, the one I believe is a female Martin — sat in a compartment facing my deck for a good while this morning while a darker, glossy bird perched just beyond her door, protectively, I thought. It was either a male Martin or a tree swallow. When she came out, they took off together and I couldn’t see his underbelly. Maybe it was a tree swallow staring in, and trying to intimidate her? But they looked friendly enough. No flapping or squawking.

It’s dreary and windy again today. Next sunny day that the grass is dry, I will take my phone and a chair down by the water and see what I can shoot pictures of. Thank you all so much.
any updates? Empty nest here in Rocky Mount.
51 year old HY beginner. Year 1 for me!
susanw77
Posts: 30
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2020 11:39 am
Location: Radford, VA
Martin Colony History: Lucky to have inherited an established colony in a lakefront Heath house, 18 units. 2020 was my first full season, mostly observing. Still learning how to be a responsible landlord.

I definitely have martins!!!! At least adult males and two females this morning without a doubt. I watched them off and on all day yesterday, 95% certain, but this morning they are all out sunning themselves together. We have had three days in a row of clouds and rain which makes ID challenging. But this morning it is beautiful, and when the sun hits their feathers, you can really be sure.

Also yesterday, interestingly, the red and blue barn swallows were back for a visit. I think they were just perching. And we absolutely have one or possibly two pairs of tree swallows in the house.

It seems very strange to me — all these disparate breeds of swallows together —but I am certain of my identification. There has been no squabbling or flapping around the house at all. Everyone seems happy together.
susanw77
Posts: 30
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2020 11:39 am
Location: Radford, VA
Martin Colony History: Lucky to have inherited an established colony in a lakefront Heath house, 18 units. 2020 was my first full season, mostly observing. Still learning how to be a responsible landlord.

Wow, and today I have even more martins!! It’s as if they just arrived very late. We are in the Blue Ridge so maybe they arrive later here. I watched one of the males pick up a twig this morning from the yard, and carry it up to his compartment. It was so big he had to fight a little to get it up there. In another compartment, I saw a female carry out one of the white pine straws I had so lovingly place for her. She carried it out on the porch and dropped it over the side. Rejected! They are so funny and cute to watch. Thank you all again.
deancamp
Posts: 413
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

Ha ha, they have to change it just enough to make it their own. :)
Chris B
Posts: 378
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2014 4:10 pm
Location: AL/Toney

Put some bluebird boxes up in the fly-around area. a 6" x6" base, 1 1/2" hole. About 4'up, and TS love them. I also do not have issues with TS boxes within 30' of each other. PM and TS and BS, all hang out together just fine. I put mine on the telephone poles and the sides of buildings, with the holes all facing the community fly area.
2014 8 gourds, 3 pairs nested. Ended w/ 24 total
2015 24 gourds, 22 nests. Lotsa birds!
2016 24 gourds and good activity.
2017 32 SREH gourds. Great activity.
2018 40 SREH gourds. Good finish despite big storm damage. No more dangling gourds.
2019 56+ SREH gourds, all on 3/8 rods. Birds did very well.
2020 56 SREH gourds.
susanw77
Posts: 30
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2020 11:39 am
Location: Radford, VA
Martin Colony History: Lucky to have inherited an established colony in a lakefront Heath house, 18 units. 2020 was my first full season, mostly observing. Still learning how to be a responsible landlord.

Trouble in paradise! I saw a black snake slithering across the patio late this afternoon. I had one last year — scared the remodeling crew to death as he curled around their lumber pile. Today he was headed in the general direction of the Martin pole. My BIL was visiting, and he made a temporary barrier out of an old milk jug and some duct tape. I think it would deter this snake. Not a raccoon. We haven’t seen any raccoons, just possums, but I’m sure they are around.

Tomorrow’s task = learn about barriers . . .
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Please see the thread, Predator Guards, by Kathy Freeze. There are some good links there and great information that should help you.
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