My first year synopsis:
My neighbor has been doing this for 10+ years. When I saw his returning birds I raised my twin houses with 24 cavities. About 2 weeks later I got my first couple, an ASY male with a mate. After several days they began nest building on the side facing away from our deck. After several days they stopped building the original cavity and moved to a front, 1st floor cavity and began a new nest immediately. About another week and my second pair arrived, SY’s. They took over the nest my originals started and finished it. Over the next week 2 more SY couples set up house. Couple 2 were the first to lay 5 eggs, followed immediately by couple 1 also laying 5. About 2 weeks later my other couples laid with 2 and 4, 16 eggs total.
On one of my checks I discovered couple 2 was missing an egg and never saw that couple again, the nest was abandoned wth 4 eggs. All 5 of couple 1 hatched but after about 3 weeks I found 1 chick dead, lying just inside the door facing out. 4 eventually fledged. The nest with 4 eggs, 1 egg went missing and after hatching 1 chick was ejected from the cavity at about day 2/3. We never saw the parents again and I thought that nest was abandoned so I took the remaining 2 chicks and put them in the nest with 2 hatchlings, which began hatching at the same time. So now, the nest with 2 originals adopted 2. About 2 days after the adoption I found one chick with peck marks on it’s body ejected from the nest. The sizes were so close I couldn’t determine if it was an original chick or an adopted one. The parents accepted the third chick and they are close to fledging.
Out of 16 original eggs it looks like 7 will fledge. I am excited about having 4 couples my first year but saddened about the low success rate of fledglings.
At first sparrows were a problem but a trap and pellet rifle corrected that problem by the time the eggs began hatching. I had a tree swallow couple set up house in a gourd hanging from the houses. They arrived after the Martins and were never a bother. Actually they kept any sparrow I hadn’t gotten away from the gourds and houses. They were gone by the time the martins eggs began hatching.
It’s been a good experience and I look forward to next year. I feel fortunate to get birds and have fledglings the first year. I’m sure I got overspill from my neighbor. Even though they haven’t left yet, I feel sad that August is coming. I’ll educate myself more over the winter and with any luck will have returning birds next year with a better survival rating than this year.
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