Back home in Fombell PA

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
Post Reply
Doug Martin - PA
Posts: 1920
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:47 am
Location: Pennsylvania/Fombell
Martin Colony History: First pair in 2009 after 28 years of trying. 3 pairs 2010, 17 pairs 2011 and 35-45 pairs since. Many additional colonies are now springing up around mine in an area once completely void of Martins. I offer 50 compartments at my site consisting of primarily Excluder II gourds on Gemini racks. Also a wooden T-14. I utilize electric fence type predator guards on the base of the poles. Supplemental feeding is crucial in maintaining my colony. I platform feed throughout the season as needed. My site tends to be a stop over point for additional birds as they migrate further north.

The season has begun once again in Western PA. A lone male first came in the other day followed by 3 more yesterday.

The initial male had a rough trip on more northerly winds and did not have much of a voice left. This is the second time the first arrival has had a bad case of laryngitis. He was well fed immediately on mainly crickets and also some egg and is fine now. Voice still a little rough though.

3 more came in yesterday including a female on south winds. I believe the one male is also my colony founder from 2009 as he went right to his gourd of each season. The beautiful sound of Purple Martins really filled the air.

It's a great feeling to have them back. Their spirits are high and their tameness toward me is remarkable. I got a fantastic greeting from them.

They will all be fine in the coming cold snap as we pretty much have this "feeding thing" down to a science. Last year the first arrival lived through an entire week of temperatures in the teens and 20s during the day and lows close to zero. This group will only have a few days of harsh weather to endure.

They will still be well fed however.

Have a great Martins season all. The thrill of those first birds sure is something special. It's actually quite unbelievable.

Doug
Supplemental feeding plays a major role in western Pennsylvania. Finally got my 1st pair in 2009 after 28 years of effort. 3 pairs in 2010. 17 pairs in 2011. 35 pairs and 150 young in 2012 & 2013. Plus a new 22 pair colony right down the road from me.
Don~VA
Posts: 391
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 11:01 am
Location: Virginia/King George
Martin Colony History: Had a colony many years ago which dwindled over a couple of years and then did not return. Kept trying each year for almost 20 years and finally had a small success in 2011 with two pairs nesting. Colony has grown slowly each year with 22 pairs in 2015. In 2016 my gourd rack of 18 gourds filled up so I added 4 more gourds and then put up a small rack of 6 gourds. All of those were claimed within a few days so I believe I have at least 25 pairs this year.

Congratulations Doug! Glad to hear your good news. I was getting a little worried here after seeing so many reports of martins north of me. Its hard to figure why they seem to migrate up through western Virginia and on to your area before I see any in eastern VA. However, my first one arrived about an hour ago so my fingers are crossed that he will return later today. Have a Great PM season.
Don~Northern Neck of Virginia-PMCA Member
ToyinPA
Posts: 2131
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.

Hi Doug:

I've been watching for your report. Glad to hear your colony is back.

According to reports some are arriving earlier than last year & some later. I have opened 3 rooms so the first back have a cozy place when they arrive. We took advantage of the warm days 2 weeks ago to uncover the houses, filled the trays & raised the houses. Then it snowed & the houses got covered in snow again. Thankfully it's all melted off now.

I have 4000-5000 crickets in my freezer & lots of handwarmers so they'll be well feed & warm. I'm having elbow surgery in 2 weeks, so my husband may have to flip crickets for several plus days until I can manage.

Starling trap has caught 3 so far.

Hope you have a great martin season.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
dhjohnson
Posts: 478
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:24 pm
Location: North Carolina/Clayton
Martin Colony History: 5th year hostess. Currently 58 confirmed breeding pair. 218 Fledged, 35 older nestlings, 2 new nests with 8 nestlings. 100% occupancy

Hey Doug,
So glad to see a post that your martins have returned! Really missed your special edition prediction this year but I understand that everyone's life has its many pulls and there is only 24 hours in a day!
Our 4th season started March 5th and tonight I counted 52 martins coming in to roost! Boy what fighting to the ground. We had 32 last night so we picked up quite a few more today!

Have a great martin season but our weather is supposed to turn nasty cold for a few days!
Who knows how many migrating martins we are hosting tonight! But they have good gourds to take shelter in and will be warm and dry!

Take care,
Debbie
Debbie Johnson
Clayton/NC (Archer Lodge)
2012 New Site 6 pair, 21 Fledged
2013 24 pair, 102 eggs, 94 hatched, 89 Fledged. What a great year!
2014 37 pair, 211 eggs, 193 Hatched, 178 Fledged, 1 nest of 5 young left! Late start but picked up speed quickly!
D Little
Posts: 76
Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2014 5:31 pm
Location: PA/Felton
Martin Colony History: 3 T14 houses and 12 gourd...gourd rack.
2019 52 nesting pairs

Doug,

Been watching for some PA reports,awesome to here they are back for you, nothing here yet. I got my stuff up with half of the compartments open.

Hopefully soon....

Donnie
rrmartins
Posts: 1434
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

Way to go Doug, glad to hear they returned. Hope you have a great year.
2020
T14
7 pair
25 fledged
Doug Martin - PA
Posts: 1920
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:47 am
Location: Pennsylvania/Fombell
Martin Colony History: First pair in 2009 after 28 years of trying. 3 pairs 2010, 17 pairs 2011 and 35-45 pairs since. Many additional colonies are now springing up around mine in an area once completely void of Martins. I offer 50 compartments at my site consisting of primarily Excluder II gourds on Gemini racks. Also a wooden T-14. I utilize electric fence type predator guards on the base of the poles. Supplemental feeding is crucial in maintaining my colony. I platform feed throughout the season as needed. My site tends to be a stop over point for additional birds as they migrate further north.

Geez I miss you guys. Thanks for your kind wishes.

I ran home from work yesterday to feed them while I could. It was about 4:00 and there was a drizzle and temps about 44 degrees. I whistled and called but no birds to be seen. I came to a common conclusion that they must be out somewhere trying to find some food.

I lowered the bed and breakfast, made some noise and listened. HMMMM
No Martins anywhere. Must be out right?

Wrong. Thought I saw a beak sticking out of an excluder. Went in and got my binoculars. Sure enough they were in there. I figured I better coax them out because this would be the only opportunity to feed them before dark. So I went right under the gourd rack and talked them into coming out.

20 minutes later they all had a good meal of crickets.

The key to getting them though this bad weather is to keep them fed each day. An ounce of prevention is way better than 10 pounds of cure. Once they get weak problems really start. They are already depleted from migration.

They came right out for me to eat this morning with a temperature about 32 degrees. Very cold the next few days. I will need to feed them 3x a day. For those of you new to feeding... a Martin usually eats about a dozen full size crickets at one time. Their stomachs are not suited for much more than that. So depending on the severity and duration of the weather feed 2 to 4 times a day.

Its not so much the cold that gets them... its the lack of food with the combination of cold. Tonight and tomorrow night lows in the teens. Highs in the 30s.

Hopefully we will make it through fine.

Doug
Supplemental feeding plays a major role in western Pennsylvania. Finally got my 1st pair in 2009 after 28 years of effort. 3 pairs in 2010. 17 pairs in 2011. 35 pairs and 150 young in 2012 & 2013. Plus a new 22 pair colony right down the road from me.
birdbrat
Posts: 259
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:20 pm
Location: Ohio/SouthSalem

Congrats Doug on the return of your birds. You do a great job caring for them. I agree that it is the lack of food that gets them. I think they can endure most any weather if they are kept well fed. From winter cold to summer droughts. and all the long stretches of rain in between.
KBoothby
Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 10:05 am
Location: Ontario/Langton
Martin Colony History: 2020: 39 pairs (24 gourds added)
2017: 25 pairs
2013: 7 pairs (12 gourds added)
2011: 1 pair (first year: 14 rm condo/4 gourds)

So grateful that you folks south of the border take such good care of the migrants heading to the frigid north. Hopefully by the time they get here they'll be happy, healthy and able to weather the occasional chilly night.
Thank you.
Kathryn
Happy Trails. Kathryn (PMCA Member & Nature Lover)
Dave Reynolds
Posts: 1919
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:35 pm
Location: Little Hocking, Oh.
Martin Colony History: 2018 Success at my Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”.
2019 Success at my home Site "Little Hocking, Ohio".

Doug --- You are a great Martin Landlord.... keeping them fed is a wonderful thing... (We need them as much as they need us) . Keep up the good work... Have a great year...

Dave
Home Site “Little Hocking, Ohio”
2010 / 2018 -- Lots of Visitors
2019 — 1 Pair, 5 Eggs, 5 Babies, 5 fledged. :wink:
2020 — 1 Pair, 4 Eggs, 4 Babies, 4 fledged. :wink:
2021 — Waiting on March 2021

Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”
2018 -- 15 Pair, 58 Eggs, 38 Hatched and 36 Fledged :wink:
2019 — 26 Pair, 128 Eggs, 99 Babies and 97 Fledged. :wink:
2020 — 30 Pair, 156 Eggs, 137 Babies and 137 Fledged. :wink:
2021 — Waiting on March 2021

PMCA Member
Archer
Posts: 758
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:09 pm
Location: Manitoba/Altona
Martin Colony History: six pair in 2014, have grown to 52 pairs in 2017.

Great news Doug, always enjoy reading your report and hearing about your special relationship with your martens. Hard times always brings people together, in your case its brought you and your Martens together, I like that.
2011- first year trying, a few visitors.
2012-One ASY pair, raised two young, lots of subby visitors. So thankfull.
2013-daily subby visits.
2014-Six SY pairs
2015-18 pair, 83 fledglings
2016-36 pair, 147 fledglings
2017-52 pairs, 192 fledglings.
2018-60 pair, 246 fledglings.
2019-59 pair, 238 fledglings.
2020-62 pair.
Doug Martin - PA
Posts: 1920
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:47 am
Location: Pennsylvania/Fombell
Martin Colony History: First pair in 2009 after 28 years of trying. 3 pairs 2010, 17 pairs 2011 and 35-45 pairs since. Many additional colonies are now springing up around mine in an area once completely void of Martins. I offer 50 compartments at my site consisting of primarily Excluder II gourds on Gemini racks. Also a wooden T-14. I utilize electric fence type predator guards on the base of the poles. Supplemental feeding is crucial in maintaining my colony. I platform feed throughout the season as needed. My site tends to be a stop over point for additional birds as they migrate further north.

Wow is it cold today. Last night was brutal. It's 11 am and only now bumping 18 degrees. Low of 11 last night on my home weather station. Brutal winds too.

I tried to feed today but only one came out and only ate 5 crickets and back in he went. They are all still in separate gourds except the female in with one of the males.

Think I will pick up some handwarmers for tonight. BRRRR

Good luck everyone getting the first arrivals through this cold. It's certainly not easy. Poor birds. Way too cold.

Doug
Supplemental feeding plays a major role in western Pennsylvania. Finally got my 1st pair in 2009 after 28 years of effort. 3 pairs in 2010. 17 pairs in 2011. 35 pairs and 150 young in 2012 & 2013. Plus a new 22 pair colony right down the road from me.
bwenger
Posts: 1046
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:24 pm
Location: Pennsylvania/Espyville/Pymatuning Reservoir Area
Martin Colony History: Taking care of 11 active public colonies and trying to start two more in northwestern PA. Also attempting to restart another one in southwestern PA, in Collier Township's Hilltop Park. In 2017, not sure what happened but the ASY male returned and then a couple of weeks later he was gone. It could have been weather related. No other birds showed up. I had a starling nesting at the Public site that I had trouble getting rid of.
In 2018, we fledged 629 martins at all of the sites.

Hi Doug,

I'm happy for you! We know that these martins will be safe with you as long as they come out of the housing when the dinner bell rings!

It looks like they will need a couple more days of a diet of crickets and eggs before they may be able to feed for themselves.

Keep up the great work.

Bill
jr 2
Posts: 749
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 3:20 pm
Location: ohio,proctorville(just across ohio river from huntington,west virginia)

doug;;;congrats on your returnee;;think last night here might be the end of cold;;you are further north I know;;have a great pm season;;jr2
PMCA member; s 2011 2 pair fledged 3; 2012 3 asy pair,4 sy pair,2013 8 asy pair,6 sy pair;2014 19 asy pair,2 sy pair
Doug Martin - PA
Posts: 1920
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:47 am
Location: Pennsylvania/Fombell
Martin Colony History: First pair in 2009 after 28 years of trying. 3 pairs 2010, 17 pairs 2011 and 35-45 pairs since. Many additional colonies are now springing up around mine in an area once completely void of Martins. I offer 50 compartments at my site consisting of primarily Excluder II gourds on Gemini racks. Also a wooden T-14. I utilize electric fence type predator guards on the base of the poles. Supplemental feeding is crucial in maintaining my colony. I platform feed throughout the season as needed. My site tends to be a stop over point for additional birds as they migrate further north.

I was impressed with the result of the hand warmers this morning. At 8:30 AM and 16 degrees out there was a Martin outside on the gourd rack. Then they all came out and I fed more crickets. It was 6 degrees here for a low last night.

I got the large 12 hour ones and just stuck them halfway under the porch of the excluder gourds they were sleeping in. They apparently did more good I had imagined. The birds were zipping around with temps in the teens.

I was away all day at a college baseball doubleheader in Johnstown and got home just in time to flush them out and feed them. Wow did they eat!

All well in Fombell. Still 4 Martins... very cold but in great shape considering. Warmer weather in a few days and probably a lot more birds coming in.

Looks like a much milder April ahead but weather patterns are tough to break. Thanks for all your warm wishes.

Doug
Supplemental feeding plays a major role in western Pennsylvania. Finally got my 1st pair in 2009 after 28 years of effort. 3 pairs in 2010. 17 pairs in 2011. 35 pairs and 150 young in 2012 & 2013. Plus a new 22 pair colony right down the road from me.
Matt F.
Posts: 3903
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Great report Doug!
You are an awesome landlord!
Doug Martin - PA
Posts: 1920
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:47 am
Location: Pennsylvania/Fombell
Martin Colony History: First pair in 2009 after 28 years of trying. 3 pairs 2010, 17 pairs 2011 and 35-45 pairs since. Many additional colonies are now springing up around mine in an area once completely void of Martins. I offer 50 compartments at my site consisting of primarily Excluder II gourds on Gemini racks. Also a wooden T-14. I utilize electric fence type predator guards on the base of the poles. Supplemental feeding is crucial in maintaining my colony. I platform feed throughout the season as needed. My site tends to be a stop over point for additional birds as they migrate further north.

Thanks Matt I try. These first birds have special meaning to me for sure. They are the ones that originally started my colony back in 2009 and 2010. I will do whatever I need to do to keep them going. I owe that to them for starting my colony.

Today marks almost a week since the first arrival and almost the same for the other 3. We have had one day of over 50 degrees since that time. They have endured single digit temperatures at night and highs mostly in the 30s. A few only in the 20s.

Today we could bump 50 degrees but there is a strong wind at 20mph from the NW. Tomorrow brings more steady rain and cold temperatures in the 40s.

They are spending most all of the day inside their gourds. Just a little time outside to stretch the wings and socialize. No need for a spoon for crickets. I stand on my deck that is a story off the ground and they take crickets a few feet off my hands with a short toss. This morning I fed a mixture of egg and freeze dried mealworms on the platform.

They now greet me at the door when I go outside as well. Although this is a strong bond now, it will diminish with rising temperatures and more arrivals. I have now gone through about 700-800 crickets during this extended cold spell with these four Martins. A few eggs and some freeze dried mealworms.

Looks like Thursday will be a big day in the northeast for new arrivals. I expect at least another half dozen birds with some migrants staying for a night as well.

Sure will be refreshing to see them soaring and chirping and feeding on their own again. This past week has been long for all of us. Very Long.

Doug
Supplemental feeding plays a major role in western Pennsylvania. Finally got my 1st pair in 2009 after 28 years of effort. 3 pairs in 2010. 17 pairs in 2011. 35 pairs and 150 young in 2012 & 2013. Plus a new 22 pair colony right down the road from me.
Post Reply