Halftime in Texas--A Migration Report

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John Barrow
Posts: 948
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:12 pm
Location: Corpus Christi / Sandia , Texas

Hi Friends,

Today, April 10, marks the end of halftime in Texas. The first half is over along the coast; tomorrow starts the second half. Last weekend I ran into a friend who I helped install a new, and nice, gourd rack early this year. Asking if he had any martins, he replied, no, should he now take the gourds down to store for the rest of the year? This is the time many folks start losing hope and patience–a time to give up. But it’s only halftime.

I have posted many migration reports over the past years. I have refrained this year. Others are reporting, and I no longer have the great picture window on migration at Port O’Connor. In a sense, it’s been a blessing to refrain. The pain, I feel, for those people trying so hard to begin a colony no longer festers as they see none, and I watch hundreds of martins landing on my crowded systems. I write this report to remind those folks that it’s, only now, halftime.

Less than a month ago my colony was lagging behind previous years in numbers, and I wondered if the population has suffered in general. However, today, my numbers are higher than ever for this date. During the last 3 weeks we have seen a big influx in arrivals. During the past two weeks I have seen 20-50 migrants landing on my systems in the evening. These are mixed-age, primarily ASY martins. I have only identified 3 SY males. Migration arrivals are no longer coming primarily from the east, out of the Gulf, but from the Southeast, out of the upper coast of Mexico. Historically, that change initiates a big influx in arrivals throughout our country, as hugh numbers spread north and east.

Today is an appropriate time to write this report. I believe the biggest historical occurrence in my colony’s growth, and perhaps in solidfying my own fascination with martins, was the year I took down an occupied Coates house, that was badly dominated, and replaced it with a Lone Star Goliad with 8 gourds hung below. The alpha male of my colony claimed at least half of the Coates and I thought he would appreciate the larger cavities of the Goliad, or claim a gourd beneath. At the time I also had,nearby, a new gourd rack that had fairly good occupancy. Instead, the male rejected the Goliad–visibly refusing to enter its compartments. He left the next day, taking four ASY pairs with him–half of my colony. I was sick. After a couple of days I called Lone Star to order a new ground socket, intending to pull the upgraded system, relocate it–and replace the smaller Coates, hoping to get the martins back.

On the day the ground socket arrived–April 9–we had a huge arrival of sub-adults. By April 11 the Goliad system had picked up 11 pairs of young martins–not 11 martins, 11 pairs. I no longer had domination issues and my colony has thrived since that time. The Coates was donated away, and the Goliad/add a rack combo remains. My 3 systems now attract 40-45 pairs.

Friends, it’s halftime. Our friend, James Strickland in Florida, has FINALLY gotten the pair he well deserves. In two weeks his houses could very well be full. My friend, who I mentioned at the outset of this report, could have full houses. In fact, any landlord in Texas, or in the south, could. And that fact will hold true for any other state to our north and east for at least the next six weeks..

It’s halftime. Tomorrow starts the second half. The first half has brought many martins into our country–those returning to, and in many cases filling, a pre-determined destination. But, I suspect that most “super colonies” got their first founding push after halftime. Over the next month and a half, the second half will bring just as many martins as in the first half. But it will bring those martins that are looking for a new home, and building a new future. If you are waiting for your first martin, or a lone returning martin, may it be in your backyard. The second half of migration is now starting.

Best wishes to all. Thanks for what each of you do.

John Barrow, Corpus Christi, TX
~~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)
tonyg
Posts: 1520
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:16 pm
Location: Olpe, KS
Martin Colony History: 22 year landlord, 14 at current residence..offering 9 racks and a homemade T-8 for 166 total cavities. 160 Pair in 2018 Racks consist of a Deluxe 12, AAA 16, Starburst 16, 2 K-18 Series, Super 24, 2 Gemini, Multi-purpose/two trio’s/4gourds and a T-8..Great hobby to be involved in..

Thanks John & Joe for the updates. I just posted a question for people in Oklahoma asking for updates on subbies, maybe premature since reading your posts. My SY's arrived the 2nd week of April last yr and i've heard everything is late arriving so better days are ahead for us here in KS. Thanks guys...Tony.
James Strickland FL
Posts: 2249
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2003 8:04 pm
Location: Reidsville NC
Martin Colony History: 2017 Had a lot visitors no Matins nesting, hoping 2018 will be different.
2018 Had 1 pair
2019 had 30 pair

:grin: John great report. I'm hoping to see a large influx here and I'm sure from what you have reported I'm sure I will see it this week. I will keep you posted on what happens here. And thanks for the beans.
apundt-TX
Posts: 983
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2004 7:34 pm
Location: Dripping Springs, Texas
Martin Colony History: :
Starting over in 2018
9 pair 2017
17 pair 2015
12 pair 2014
8 pair 2013
5 pair 2012
2 pair 2011

The martins have just started showing up at this old worn out TRIO in the neighborhood so hopefully I will start getting traffic soon. There is a school colony that I drove by this past friday and they are packed. It was nice to hear them as I stopped by on the way to work.

A.P.
martinteach
Posts: 188
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 8:14 am
Location: Richmond, TX

Joe,

We have expereinced the same problems and successes at our school. Our first smaller house is full and the big T-14 has not has as many takers. The interesting thing is that the day after we put up the rack with 8 gourds they were all filled. I still can't get over this fact.

I have a sparrow problem bigger than last year and this might be part of the T-14 problem. I actually saw a sparrow trying to hang on to a martin as it was trying to get into his/her room this week.

I am going to try the glue traps before I rip out all of the nests this time.

Daryle
pillow
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:38 pm
Location: Arkansas/Conway

John,
Thanks for the update and the perspective that you give. I'm trying to get a colony started in my back yard and it is easy to get frustrated waiting. Your post reminds me that my best chances of attracting some are the days that lie ahead. Keep us posted with what you are seeing.

Greg
John Barrow
Posts: 948
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:12 pm
Location: Corpus Christi / Sandia , Texas

A FOLLOWUP:

This post was written last Friday. The following day I rode out to some property I am developing about 30 miles west of Corpus Christi. Work has been slow--first clearing a small part of the acreage, then bringing in electricity, drilling a well and installing water and electrical pipe, and finally building a barn to store stuff. Around mid March I finally put up my first (and only at this time) martin system. A gourd rack with 16 natural gourds--a mix of round holes and WDC SREH tunnels. Although there was a small number of martins at a coates house not far away, I had seen none on my system.

Last Saturday, after encouraging those seeking martins not to give up hope, I went to the property and had an SY pair using the system. I hope we can add pictures of that pair next week. Although I have no idea what number of martins I will end up with at that location this season, I know that there is the possibility that the system might fill as the second half of migration continues.

As has been reported in another thread, we had a huge arrival of primarily SY martins yesterday evening (4/16/09) all along the Texas coast. That arrival will impact sites throughout the country in the next few weeks. I also expect another equally large, or larger, arrival to occur this evening and/or tomorrow evening as an advancing frontal system approaches the coast. I have often said, and my mentees who have helped to supplementally feed so many arrivals, will confirm, that these large arrivals usually seem to occur at the worst possible times. These severe advancing weather systems not only stall martins that are migrating over land along the coastal boundary, but also seem to pull martins into flight that cross the Gulf from whatever point along the Mexican coast they are at in their migration.

It's important that people who are growing impatient about arrivals, know that the first significant SY arrival along the Texas coast occured yesterday afternoon. If history repeats, there should be 2 or 3 subsequent massive arrivals over the next 6 weeks before SY migration starts to taper off. And there will be smaller numbers arriving regularly between these massive sightings. Many folks to the north and east should expect to see evidence of these large arrivals as they transcend the USA, south to north, over about a 7-10 day period.

Best wishes to all who wait, Grant tolerance to the older colonies that are now filled with ASYs that will have to fend against the agressive behavior of the SY males to retain mates and cavities. May the end result be distribution of the hundreds of thousands of this SY class to sites where they are needed and hopefully wanted.
~~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)
KathyF
Posts: 3521
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 1:57 pm
Location: Missouri/Licking
Martin Colony History: Colony started - 2007 with one pair
As of 2018 - 84 cavities offered, max # of pairs hosted - 82.

Thanks for the update, John! It is so exciting to get the adults back, but it sure livens up the party when the teenagers come back all full of spunk (and themselves). :lol: :wink:
"Sometimes", said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
2016 - 82 pair
2015 - 76 pair
2014 - 75 pair
2013 - 75 pair
2012-72 pair
http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com
adrianhans
Posts: 76
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Texas/Port O'Connor

Hi John, I concur, there must have been a massive influx of martins yesterday. Tommy is in POC and called me last night after dark, after our colony had bedded down. He said there were still 35+ birds fluttering around. He said that there were bunches of birds all day long, and he assumed they were subbies but was not sure. Not yet confident enough to make the call, especially in the dark. I will wait for his call tonight for an update. I told him to be sure and feed them in this inclement weather to rachet up their strength to continue on their journey. We have 28 gourds and the Lone Star full.
BTW, he is having a roof put on that deck and the martins just ignore all of the strangers and building noise which is only about 20' from the system. I was glad to know that.
Hope your racks fill up!!! We still need much more rain, but it looks like you are getting plenty, promising a great season.
Adrian
Adrian Hans
Gobbler T
Posts: 1518
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 8:13 am
Location: Mississippi / Columbus

[quote]May the end result be distribution of the hundreds of thousands of this SY class to sites where they are needed and hopefully wanted.



I have room for thirteen pair I"LL TAKE THEM :!: :!: :!:
Tony


2007 --- 0 2011---0 2015---4
2008 --- 0 2012---0 16-19—0
2009 --- 0 2013---1 2020—?
2010 --- 0 2014---3
Littlebit45
Posts: 67
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 3:30 pm
Location: Newman, Ky

Thank you so much for the update...I have tried for 4 years to get martins. This year I bought a better house...read everything I can...shooting others here that don't need...and still keep hoping and waiting for martins..with my fingers crossed...today I was just about ready to give up...saw barn martins(swallows) yesterday...my neighbor down the road has his adults back...but I am still waiting...Thank you so much for the hope..
Linda Reynolds
Posts: 1308
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 8:33 pm
Location: Adamsville, TN

John, these are informative reports and should provide positive encouragement to those waiting for martins.

Thanks for being our *lighthouse* and sending the informational beacon to those in middle America.
Ever-Grateful,
Linda
M.Stephens
Posts: 1130
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:14 pm
Location: Texas/Texarkana

I've been waiting to fill my houses :grin: :grin: THANKS!!!!!! for the good news!!!!!!!!!!!
Malcolm
2015 (110 nesting pair)
2014 (92 nesting pair)
2013 (75 nesting pair)
2012 (35 nesting pair)
2011 (20 pair)
____________
PMCA Member
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 648
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

Several ended up at our place this afternoon during a severe thunderstom. There was no room at the Inn although they tried their darndest to get in. The only thing that probably saved the resident martins from too much hassle by the subbies was all the rain. They just wanted a place to land temporarily.
They headed out later once the rain slowed so I know they will make someone very happy once they get to their final destination.
Sharon
geezer
Posts: 311
Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2004 2:21 pm
Location: Texas/Anna (north of dallas)

After checking my diary from prior years, this April mass influx seems to be 10 days behind the usual schedule.

My birds will be laying eggs just about the time this new group gets here....that should be interesting.

geezer
#PMCA #birding #birders
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6209
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Here are the young martins that may be our founding pair at new site. This particular SY male (Freckle Butt, on the left) seems to have the qualities that would make him the right martin for us. He is bold, loud, and doesn't seem likely to give up. His head feathers are raked up, almost as if he used gel, when he gives the male song.

In wooing the SY female (Snow White, on the right - note that snowy crissum!) he not only sang relentlessly while going in and out of a round holed gourd, he pulled out all the stops and wiggled into a WDC (modified Excluder entrance) on the gourd next door. While we don't know where this subbie was raised, it's unlikely he came from a colony with SREHs, since the majority of housing we see around the area has round holes. So we like his style!

Snow White acts somewhat cool towards him but maybe she is just distracted by presence of suave older male on system - too bad it's a decoy. :-( But time will tell, and we have our hopes pinned on this pair for now. Housing next door has 8 rooms, 6 x 6, and house sparrows using some of them. Can't wait to see what's going on this weekend....

Louise
Attachments
SY male on left and SY female on right
SY male on left and SY female on right
FBandSW.jpg (106.4 KiB) Viewed 22278 times
John Barrow
Posts: 948
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:12 pm
Location: Corpus Christi / Sandia , Texas

I am bumping this thread posted April 10, 2009--a typical migration year, for the benefit of those who are starting to get anxious about not seeing martins. Currently, 2011, 2 year old martins are now arriving in fairly regular waves. SY arrivals along the Texas coast have been sporadic and small. Massive arrivals of SY martins typically begin after the first week of April along the Texas Gulf coast.
~~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)
Scully
Posts: 2008
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2004 5:35 pm
Location: Texas/San Antonio

A timely update as we have seven new sites awaiting martins.

Here at our school I didn't consider our new Gemini rack a "new site", but the martins apparently do.

Just 60 yards from existing housing that has been fully occupied for weeks, it still has only one ASY male martin in residence who still has not been able to attact a female.

Not even any sparrows trying to get into this rack yet, tho' it has been up for a few months now, its eerie.

Image

Mike Scully
...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them. Canasatego 1744
Matt@atx
Posts: 728
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:13 am
Location: Buda, TX, south of Austin

Hi John, Thank you for the excellent well written updates. These updates are so helpful to those of us inland so we can know whats coming when.. :)

We are in Buda just south of Austin and have 19 gourds up. Though I am presently in battle with Sparrows for 3 much needed gourds, it appears we may be full (not including the Sparrows I am determined to get when my new Deluxe Repeating Sparrow Trap arrives soon). I witnessed an adult Male Martin alittle after dusk last night trying to get into gourds.
In failure, he sat on one of the gourd arms for a minute alone with all other Martins in their gourds for the evening, then flew off and did not return.
Sparrows got to go, he does have a gourd. :x I angry to see this happening.
I know I must clear these gourds asap for these new young birds coming through...
I have also noticed this increase in martins in the last week which makes sense based on your report so new martin folks should get ready here.
I also have a neighbor starting a new colony not too far away so I hope they go there too. Thanks for your updates and information.
2008~(1st yr) 4 pairs, 11 to 12 fledged
2009~(2nd yr) 9 pairs, 41 fledged
2010~(3rd year) 11 pairs. 50 fledged
2011~(4th year) 20 pairs, 23 out of 23 gourds Martin occupied, 3 fledged, the rest died in the drought. (1 new Blue Bird, 3 BB fledged.)
2012~ 26 pairs, approx. 100-110 fledged
Matt@atx
Posts: 728
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:13 am
Location: Buda, TX, south of Austin

as a quick sidenote, we had a pair of Blue birds visiting about a week ago and I think the darn Sparrows ran them off. Sparrows need to be dealt with for all our sweet native song birds. :x
2008~(1st yr) 4 pairs, 11 to 12 fledged
2009~(2nd yr) 9 pairs, 41 fledged
2010~(3rd year) 11 pairs. 50 fledged
2011~(4th year) 20 pairs, 23 out of 23 gourds Martin occupied, 3 fledged, the rest died in the drought. (1 new Blue Bird, 3 BB fledged.)
2012~ 26 pairs, approx. 100-110 fledged
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