Central Texas Martin Rehab/Sanctuary??

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
Post Reply
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:55 pm
Location: Central Texas

First, thank everyone here – I’ve been lurking and learning since picking up a pin-feathered martin from the ground in early June. My husband and I recently moved to an old home with martin houses to which martins have returned for years – long after the people were gone. We rebuilt the houses last year. The poles cannot be lowered with birds in them – but we will change that before next season so we can return babies to nests!

My reason for posting: can anyone recommend a good martin rehab/sanctuary in the Central Texas area that will euthanize only as a very last resort? We are halfway between Houston and Austin. I’ve learned a lot from earlier posts from the Rogers Wildlife Center in the Dallas area, but have not contacted yet. I know that Penny, whose posts I’ve learned much from, has passed away, but don’t know if anyone from the facility still participates on this forum.

Here’s more info if anyone is interested – in short, one seemingly very successful reunion of an ~14 day old jumper back into the colony at 30 days, but also a second little martin that is lagging way behind his nest mates who fledged over 15 days ago. He cannot fly at over 40 days old, unlike the previous martin who began flying at 25 days. I’m hoping to give him a chance at life even though he will not be able to migrate with his colony this year. He’s been feasting on grasshoppers and live crickets hourly since I picked him up and seems uninjured, quite perky, and eats well – just can’t fly although he flaps and flaps, and he remains small. In retrospect, I think his parents may have pushed him out of the nest of 3 at ~20 days because he was not developing properly.

I had been spending most of every day outside with him, feeding him on a little halfway house we set up 15’ from the colony – hoping to keep him bonded with his colony before releasing him back into them once he could fly. But I finally realize in spite of his best efforts, and mine, it’s not going to happen. I wish he could be somewhere with other martins – he called and called to them all the days I kept him outside, and they responded. It was heartbreaking, actually. He's an otherwise healthy little bird who just can't fly - I'd like him to have the best chance at life, and maybe even migration next year!

If you made it this far, bless you – and sorry for the long first post.
Mike Mack
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:56 pm
Location: Centex

Hi Sky, sorry about your bird. There will allways be little bits of heartbreak with all the joy and rewards of hosting martins. Sometimes the parents will discard babies that they know have a deformity. It's their way. If their old enough its allways best to put them in their original nest, if not possible a near by vacant cavity. Just don't let this discourage your intro into martins. I know of no rehab to take him to, but more people will post soon I'm sure. Good luck. Mike.
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:55 pm
Location: Central Texas

Thanks Mike! We will definitely modify after this season so we can reach the houses to return nestlings! Currently the entire pole pivots down for cleanout.
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon May 04, 2020 5:13 pm
Location: Texas

I had two little ones that I had to return to gourds this year, where they went was basically an educated guess but keeping records of nest checks helped get close.
JJ Ranch
Texas Hill Country
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:55 pm
Location: Central Texas

Thank you, John. By next year we plan to be able to raise & lower the houses & be able to look into nests to keep records. (I would never have known people did that without this forum)

This is actually my late parents' place we've recently moved to - my father built the first martin houses in the late 80s/early 90s. I always enjoyed watching them with him, and he looked so forward to their arrival each year. However, I never saw a baby martin helpless on the ground before, and that has added an entirely different dimension to the experience! :-(

I'm grateful the first one I picked up shot like a little rocket from my hands 15 days later - with two martins in front and two behind, hopefully showing him the ropes. This second one, I'm at a loss since he can't fly and is not releasable. I've struck out with the two bird rehabbers near here - will try Austin and Houston next.
Posts: 717
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:15 pm
Location: Plano, Texas
Martin Colony History: See Signature


"This second one, I'm at a loss since he can't fly and is not releasable. I've struck out with the two bird rehabbers near here - will try Austin and Houston next."

I have one in the same condition. Actually had two. I have one now in a box on a perch who is eating crickets. The other one was pretty far gone when I found him. Anyway. I bought 1 inch size crickets from Petco and froze them. They die pretty quickly. I got 4 out of the bag and let them warm up a bit and then my son was able to get the Marty to eat four of them. We are about to feed him two more before we head off for 4 hours of baseball.

You can get them to eat. When you approach their mouth they like to defend themselves by opening and acting like they are going to bite you. When they do that, ease the cricket in head first and push it in to the point that the swallow reflex takes over. Once he eats two this way, all you gotta do from there is put them in his mouth head first and he'll swallow them.

I keep him in the box on the balcony of my 2nd floor with a window screen over the top so he's safe. I don't bring him inside as I like to make sure he doesn't get a chill from the AC.

Here is a picture: He's in the process of swallowing that 4th cricket.
MartyMartin.jpg (94.26 KiB) Viewed 1256 times
2016 - late to put up, many visitors
2017 - 1 pair, 3 fledged
2018- 2 pair, 12 fledged
2019 - 4 pair, 21 fledged
2020 - 15 pair, 67 fledged
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:55 pm
Location: Central Texas

Hi - thanks for your reply, and best of luck with your little martin! I notice his wing feathers are as long as his tail, so he should be flying soon - hopefully he can quickly rejoin his colony and they’ll teach him how to "be a martin" before they head south. I know these fledglings face a dicey future. They almost certainly will not make it unless they are accepted back in the colony and taught by adults how to hunt natural prey, and to feed them supplemental food until they learn all they need to know.

My first "jumper" was flying strongly for about 4 days around an unfurnished room we have, after feeding him tons of grasshoppers and crickets hourly for 2 weeks. I released him at 30 days, and he seemed strong; didn't have a scale so don't know if he was the recommended 44g - but I hope he survived and thrived and is headed far south with his colony.

This other little bird is a different story - he's perky and a very healthy eater, and seems uninjured. However he has never flown. All our local rehabbers are rehab/release only - meaning he would be euthanized as he is not releasable. I understand the concept, but am having trouble with the idea of taking the life of this otherwise healthy little bird simply because he cannot fly. He drinks and bathes in a pie plate every day, and is waiting for me ON his food plate if I am late with his hourly grasshoppers! This is NOT a bird who is ready to die voluntarily!! This is why I am trying to find a sanctuary somewhere in Texas that will let him live out his little life. I can't see subjecting him to a long drive, terror in unfamiliar surroundings being poked, prodded and x-rayed only to ultimately be killed because he can't fly.

I'm slowly switching him to mostly kitten kibble and dry crickets as that seems a more feasible diet for a group setting - no one is going to feed live grasshoppers and crickets on the hour – it’s just not possible for them.

Oh, and yes - Petco is great! Next day live cricket delivery! Very important as we’re an hour from closest pet store! FYI just in case you didn't know - they do need a water and food source, a small fresh slice of apple or potato every day and they last longer.

Thanks again for your reply, and very best of luck to the little Martin you're helping!
Post Reply