Feeding during rain events

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
Post Reply
flmike
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:58 pm
Location: Moneta, Virginia

Continuous rain expected for 3-4 days. High temperatures of 60-62f. The insects have gone to ground.
Should I be looking for meal worms or something else to feed the pm’s?
Can I place a container of food on their porches?
Hanover Bill
Posts: 616
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 3:10 pm
Location: Pennsylvania/Hanover Township
Martin Colony History: 2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72

Seems like crickets and scrambled eggs are the preferred menu for supplemental feeding. Of course it isn't always easy to get them to accept the offerings. It took me years to succeed at supplemental feeding, then this year, during some horrible weather in early May, they finally accepted my offerings. It's a great feeling when that first one grabs a cricket or chunk of scrambled eggs.

If I were you I would put up a bed & breakfast with trays, and feed while standing near it. Then once they start accepting the food they will eat right off of the trays. There are lots of articles on the Forum about supplemental feeding. Persistence is the key, stick with it and it will eventually pay off.

Good Luck;
Hanover Bill.
2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72
flyin-lowe
Posts: 3009
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

If there are breaks in the rain, even for an hour or so, the martins will typically be able to get out and feed. I know during some severe weather, (tropical storms, hurricanes, etc.) you can get non stop rains for several days. Often times martins have to get to the third day without food in order to accept feed if they are not already used to taking supplemental feed. Are they saying there is a front coming through that will cause non stop rain for days, or is there just rain in the forecast?
Once exception would be if they have young that have already hatched. The babies would not be able to survive near as long as the parents without food.
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.
ToyinPA
Posts: 2134
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.

flmike wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 6:34 am
Continuous rain expected for 3-4 days. High temperatures of 60-62f. The insects have gone to ground.
Should I be looking for meal worms or something else to feed the pm’s?
Can I place a container of food on their porches?
You posted a 1st egg laid on June 10, so I doubt you have chicks yet. So that being said only the parents would need fed. 3 days of no food & they will start to weaken. I would try on day 2 of the rain, during any breaks or very light rain, to supplement feed. You'll need a plastic spoon. Many use the long ice cream spoons, while others use the larger plastic cooking spoons. Since you'll be feeding only a couple martins I'd try an ice cream spoon.

Crickets (5-6 week, 3/4-1 inch size) or meal worms (larger super worms are best). Fed whatever you can find local. Look in bait shops, pet stores, etc. The crickets need to be put in the freezer for several hours to kill them. Then thaw in hot water a few minutes, drain on paper towels. You can pinch the heads on the meal worms to kill them. Do not use the dehydrated meal worms as they contain little nutrition.

Scrambled eggs work too, but daily feeding can cause loose bowel. To scramble eggs use a glass dish & add a little water to the eggs. Cook them in the microwave for 10 seconds, stir, cook again & keep doing that until they are done. Let cool & cut into 1/4 inch pieces. There are posts on the forum how those that use them do it. You can also do them in a frying pan, but do not use any oil. Birds can not digest oil based products. Again add a little water to the eggs & cook on low heat, stirring until just done. Do not let the eggs brown.

If possible set up a feeding station. Many use a 6 foot pole or something they can reach or lower. Some use a bench & the martins come down to it. Whatever you decide to use start feeding from there. Start by flipping one cricket or meal worm or piece of egg at a time. Try to get it high in the air, above the martin if possible, & close to a martin. The male will be the best choice as the females tend to hang back. All it will take is him catching one & you'll be set. Many use a whistle tune for each flip. This gets the martins attention.

If it looks like steady 3-4 days of rain you'll need to feed 3 times a day to keep them fed up. Normally around 40 crickets or meal worms per day per martin. Try to do the last feeding 1-2 hours before dark.

Here in PA I've had to supplement feed for many years due to cold wet springs & lack of insects.

I hope it works out for you.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
flmike
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:58 pm
Location: Moneta, Virginia

The good news is we’ve had a break in the rain all morning.
The bad news is I haven’t seen any of my pm’s all day... they usually come out around 6:30-7am, and hang around the house all morning. I’ve been watching closely and haven’t seen a single pm.
I’m going to do a nest check after lunch.
John Barrow
Posts: 948
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:12 pm
Location: Corpus Christi / Sandia , Texas

For those interested in supplemental feeding of purple martins, there is a "sticky" included among the top posts of the index page on supplemental feeding. It includes an extensive " how to" article on the process, including links to two other comprehensive articles, as well as a link to a video on the process. There are also some "how to" videos on YouTube.
The "stickies" found at the top of the index page are placed there by PMCA administrators and offer valuable information and tips for all purple martin landlords and are especially helpful for those beginning their quest for a colony.
~~TEAMED WITH A MARTIN GODDESS~~

Member/Mentor-PMCA. I do regular nestchecks and participate in PROJECT MARTINWATCH!! Coordinated 3 geolocator studies-2009, 2010 & 2013. State and Fed licensed bander (retired Jan., 2020)
Post Reply