Where do martins Mate?

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Where do the martins mate? In the air or gourds? I frequently see the tree swallow mating on a perch, but in 10 years I have never seem martins mate.
M.Stephens
Posts: 1130
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:14 pm
Location: Texas/Texarkana

It's called copulation , and they do it mostly in the air...have seen it on the ground by different males attacking a female during nest gathering.
Malcolm
2015 (110 nesting pair)
2014 (92 nesting pair)
2013 (75 nesting pair)
2012 (35 nesting pair)
2011 (20 pair)
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ToyinPA
Posts: 2174
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.

I've seen them in the air, on the ground & on the house this year.

ToyinPA
razman
Posts: 563
Joined: Sun May 09, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: wichita ks

is copulation required for each individual egg? or do they mate one time, and the female continues producing eggs? Rick
razman
Posts: 563
Joined: Sun May 09, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: wichita ks

anyone know?
ToyinPA
Posts: 2174
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.

Susquatch
Posts: 58
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:51 pm
Location: Ontario/Blenheim

I found this post looking for an answer to the same question. I often see Tree Swallows mating (copulating or having sex, or whatever you want to call it) on a fence, pergola corner, nest box, etc. I also see Barn Swallows and cliff swallows mating on a wire or antenna. This almost always occurs after their nest is completed and while eggs are being laid. But I never actually see my Martins mating. Given the relatively high number of martins in my condo, this seems really odd.

Others have said they have seen them mate on the ground and in the air and on the condo. But I don't agree with this observation. I do see them "looking like they might be mating" in these locations, but I do not believe for one second that they are mating. They are simply fighting over females, territory, and plain old dominance. Watched very closely, you can see them wrestling and pulling on each others feathers and otherwise hurting each other. This is exactly the same fighting behaviour that other Swallows exhibit. At no time have I ever seen anything that looked like a female crouching in a submissive invitation or what could have been, a deliberate coital or cloacal kiss which is how most birds exchange sperm.

I too would love to hear something more credible about where they mate.

In the absence of that, I assume it is done in the nesting quarters or someplace else private and secluded like a tree top in the forest. In support of the former, I have seen a clearly bonded peaceful pair of birds enter their condo during the egg laying phase and then heard what sounds like the beating of a males wings against the condo walls similar to what I have seen and heard other Swallows do while mating. It's also the same sound that fledgling birds make while exercising their flight muscles. This is often followed by the male leaving the condo and taking a quick flight around the area - just like other Swallows do after mating. However, I have never actually seen them copulate.
The best way to repay a favour is to pass it on.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Susquatch wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 4:53 am
Others have said they have seen them mate on the ground and in the air and on the condo. But I don't agree with this observation. I do see them "looking like they might be mating" in these locations, but I do not believe for one second that they are mating. They are simply fighting over females, territory, and plain old dominance.

I too would love to hear something more credible about where they mate.
If you have your mind made up that the other responses are wrong, then will one more reply help?

I have been a Martin landlord for 17 years. I also have a BS degree in Poultry Science from Auburn University. I had enough avian repro and physiology classes both lower and upper level to know what I'm talking about. I also worked in commercial poultry production for 19 years. specifically on the breeder hen side for 12 years. Only reason I'm writing that is because I know a little more about avian repro than your standard Martin landlord. A chicken isn't a Martin but all birds that I know anything about use a Cloacal Kiss to exchange sperm.

I've seen them mate on the ground, while perched on a barbed wire fence, in the air and about every other conceivable place it can happen. I've also seen forced copulation on the ground, or gang raping as I call it, where multiple males drive one female onto the ground. Sometimes involving as many as 10-12 males. I have seen those females unable to fly when that act finally ends. I have saved some and have lost some due to that. I don't try to assume what happens inside a cavity because I can't see that. I only go with what I can see.

The males grab the female by the feathers on the back of their head, because that stimulates the female to open, raise and position her cloaca for copulation. It's not aggressive behavior, it's mating behavior.

People like to think Purple Martins are some special, mysterious bird that does or doesn't do things other birds do. They aren't and don't.
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.
PMDavid
Posts: 534
Joined: Wed May 16, 2018 8:50 pm
Location: Boyce,Louisiana
Martin Colony History: 2018 1 lone nut and lots of visitors
2019 6 pair -21fledged
2020 18 pair -60 fledged
2021......to be seen.
24 natural gourds on a satellite rack,9 other gourds scattered around
2-12 compartment trio houses
Rarely see a sparrow or starling,but when I do they don’t last long!
Will have a second satellite rack for the 2022 season and phase out the houses,the martins here strongly prefer natural gourds.

Ok ,I’m rollin on the couch here. Great question and excellent answers from all in the know. Mr. Biddle Thank you for sharing your expertise,I’ve often wondered about this same thing. Anyone with the training and knowledge of the subject that you have oughta know! I had suspected in the house/gourd,and in trees,in the air I find very interesting as I may have seen this and in my ignorance just assumed to be a tussle in the air. I had noticed a male and female just for a second or two doing like a controlled flutter down ,then separation. Not quite like ASY males fighting off other males. So.... since everyone has been so serious about this I gotta tell ya.......MY martins are very discreet and tasteful and do it in the dark after I turn out the porch lights🤣😂🤣😂✌️
Robert Anderson
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:22 am
Location: Mt. Pleasant, IA
Martin Colony History: 2018: 0 pair
2019: 0 pair
2020: 0 pair: 1 ASY male visitor
2021: 3 pair: 13 eggs

This website states that "it is believed copulation occurs inside the nesting cavity." Which would make sense since it is also believed that the males sleep inside with the females until the eggs are laid and she starts incubating. This also allows the male to prevent an interloper from trying to mate with his chosen pair bond, which the female will do if she deems the 3rd party to be a more attractive choice.

Yes martins are superficial in that way.
2018: 0 pair
2019: 0 pair
2020: 0 pair: 1 ASY male visitor
2021: 3 pair: 13 eggs

16 S&K Bo 9 double stacked gourds; 8 PMCA Excluder Gourds; 2 Trio metal houses converted from 12 units down to 6.
white-out
Posts: 111
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:21 am
Location: ohio

PMDavid wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 7:22 pm
Ok ,I’m rollin on the couch here. Great question and excellent answers from all in the know. Mr. Biddle Thank you for sharing your expertise,I’ve often wondered about this same thing. Anyone with the training and knowledge of the subject that you have oughta know! I had suspected in the house/gourd,and in trees,in the air I find very interesting as I may have seen this and in my ignorance just assumed to be a tussle in the air. I had noticed a male and female just for a second or two doing like a controlled flutter down ,then separation. Not quite like ASY males fighting off other males. So.... since everyone has been so serious about this I gotta tell ya.......MY martins are very discreet and tasteful and do it in the dark after I turn out the porch lights🤣😂🤣😂✌️
Thanks for making my nightcap shoot out my nose......^^^^^^^^

Mine do it 100% in the jacuzzi with Barry White playing ..... :oops: :oops: :oops:
BellWeather
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:33 am
Location: Leduc County, Alberta, Canada
Martin Colony History: Third year trying. One SY pair arrived, looked, inspected, and moved into crescent hole apartment. Nest now built. Housing is prototype from recycled house construction materials and old dog kennel pipe. One four mile long lake and one two mile long lake within one mile. One half mile slough within 300 meters. one small slough within 400 meters. One very large and one large dugout within 400 meters. Large dragonfly populations in shelter belt and around yard. Twenty bluebird boxes scattered around 80 acres with none closer than 100 meters to towers.
2018 = 4 eggs
2021 last year's bachelor returned and now nesting with mate

Copulation I was able to photo as attached.

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Copulatiom (1).jpg
Copulatiom (1).jpg (169.5 KiB) Viewed 589 times
Martintown33
Posts: 144
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:21 pm
Location: Laplace,La
Martin Colony History: 21 year colony. 2 s&k modified houses and gourd rack

Research I’ve done says they copulate on the ground or inside compartments, in very early morning.
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