We had 30 martins, now have 3

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Sue P
Posts: 395
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:10 pm
Location: Morgantown, WV

10 days ago we were enjoying 30 martins. We only have 3 left after the cold killed of so many. Three seem to return every evening, but no subbies. Probably if they don't nest, we will have lost our martin hobby, I would guess. Needless to say we are very depressed, but nothing could be done. The Mockingbirds love the eggs and crickets, but that won't bring back the Martins.
Posts: 487
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

Keep the faith, after all your struggles don't give in. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. SY birds should still be coming in. Perseverance will win!
Posts: 122
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.

All is not lost if you have 3 birds still alive. SY birds are still heading this way. This spring has been the most devastating I have had to deal with since I started my colony. This is the first spring that I had to remove dead ASY martins from their nest cavities on consecutive days.
The weather has finally turned around, and insects are flying with surviving martins in hot pursuit. Learn from your early years as a martin landlord and be prepared to help your martins by teaching them to accept supplemental feeding by flipping them mealworms and crickets.
Hopefully you will get some SY birds in the days to come. Hang in there, and don't give up!!

Mike "Bird" Wren
Posts: 3005
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

The ones that you say died, did you find them dead or just assume they are dead because they are gone? I had a weird experience last week, a first for me. I had about 60 martins here last Friday and Saturday morning it got around freezing for an hour or so and then at sun up temps climbed back up. The next couple days temps did the same. I didn't think it was cold enough to kill them and each day temps got warm enough for them to feed. However I went from 60 martins to about 12 for almost a week. Then late this week once temps stabilized they all showed back up again. Almost all of them had full nest built etc. and just disappeared which I have never had them do this late in the season. I was happy the last couple days to see the housing full again.
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.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

I'm sorry to hear that Sue. There has been a huge amount of SY's show up here in the past few days. Hopefully the same will happen for you.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 162 plastic gourds with tunnels, all with Conley II entrances with the Lewis modification. I have 24 Supergourds and the rest are Troyer Horizontals.
Sue P
Posts: 395
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:10 pm
Location: Morgantown, WV

It is possible that the sy's could come through. I thought maybe they had been killed also. The three martins that are here are so quiet. No singing, no sitting outside on their porches and chattering. Deathly quiet. They leave in the morning and come back at sunset. Very abnormal behavior. I don't know that all of the martins died. I know they are all gone. They will leave if a snake or hawk attack and never come back, and I would assume that is because of the trauma they experienced. It is like that is how they are interpreting this.

I appreciate the encouragement you purple martin landlords have been. It took us 17 years to attract these wonderful birds, and since we all get older, sometimes 17 years from now isn't a possibility. I have played the martin chatter cd along with the martin dawn song. Under normal circumstances that would attract the birds from everywhere --- they would even "dive bomb" the boom box. Nothing now. Just made the neighbors dogs bark.

I am fascinated by the fact that some of you have seen martins disappear for a week and then return and act like normal. Maybe that could happen.
Posts: 760
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.

I have seen it where birds will move to a different location where they can find food during tough times. Usually a large body of water will still produce flying insects when the weather is bad. When the weather improves and flying insects are available again, they head back to their home location. A survival strategy. Do you have a large body of water nearby? I would go look there. The largest body of water where I live is a sewage lagoon. As awful as it sounds, that's where my bird go, when the going get tough.
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.
2019-59 pair, 238 fledglings.
2020-62 pair.
Sue P
Posts: 395
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:10 pm
Location: Morgantown, WV

We have been invaded by tree swallows. This morning I had 8 martins show up, defending their housing. They are making noise, and acting as if nothing happened. They are ASY birds, so maybe there will be sub adults coming yet. But at least it is more than three.

Brad, your info was interesting about how many SY martins were around. Maybe we will pick up some of those, too. I am much more encouraged this morning.

Archie, interesting how the martins leave for an area with water. I knew that they loved water, and we have a lake maybe 5 miles away, a large river and several ponds, so maybe that is where they went. This has been an unpleasant learning experience. I hope never to see anything like this again. Gourds packed with suffocating birds isn't anything any landlord should have to see.
Posts: 146
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:58 am
Location: Awesome Florida
Martin Colony History: Newbie in 2020: 2 pair of SY with 4 eggs each in Troyer Horizontals
fledged a total of 7 Martins

Sue, I am happy that some of your ASY are back!
Posts: 203
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:09 pm
Location: Indiana/ Jamestown
Martin Colony History: 2005-2019. Lots lookers, 2 successful nesting's.
2010- 1 pair nested,eggs destroyed(Wren).
2012- 1 pair nested, 4 eggs, 4 fledged
2019- 1 pair nested, 4 eggs, 4 fledged.

I am so glad to hear some of your Martin's are back.
GOOD LUCK.Hope the rest return too.
My prayers are with you..
Dave Duit
Posts: 1852
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 Sue,
Like Dean said, "keep the faith". Being a purple martin landlord has its ups and downs within a season and over the many seasons. Keep with it and they will eventually return. I recall speaking with a landlord who picked up dead martins by the bucket load during a particularly nasty cold rainy April. Regardless of his best attempts e nearly lost his entire huge colony. The next year a few came back and over the years his colony is back to its original numbers. We are with you and feel for the heartaches that occur each year to landlords across the US.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
Sue P
Posts: 395
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:10 pm
Location: Morgantown, WV

Thank you so much for your support, Dave and Lady Bug. Probably I have been fortunate that nothing like this has happened before. This morning the birds were actually chattering. It lifts my spirits. I appreciate hearing from you all.
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