How many pair does it take?

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threelilkids
Posts: 386
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:11 pm
Location: Denham Springs, La
Martin Colony History: 2014 1 pair 3 hatched 3 fledged
2015 1 pair 5 hatched 5 fledged
2016 1 pair 5 hatched 4 fledged
2017 2 pair 8 hatched 8 fledged
2018 4 pair 15 hatched

I only have one pair, last year and so far this year. My question is how many pair is considered an established colony? Or is it a matter of years? :???:
Thanks, Mary
birdbrat
Posts: 259
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:20 pm
Location: Ohio/SouthSalem

Good question. If they nested there last year and you have martins this year, then I would say it is established. If you consider more birds a colony, then I would say you are on your way to a bigger colony.
threelilkids
Posts: 386
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:11 pm
Location: Denham Springs, La
Martin Colony History: 2014 1 pair 3 hatched 3 fledged
2015 1 pair 5 hatched 5 fledged
2016 1 pair 5 hatched 4 fledged
2017 2 pair 8 hatched 8 fledged
2018 4 pair 15 hatched

Thanks Birdbrat, I was beginning to wondering if this question had a answer, no one said anything, but that sounds good to me. :roll: :lol:
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)

I figured once I had 2 pair it was a colony...always the optimist!
Happy trails.
Kathryn
Happy Trails. Kathryn (PMCA Member & Nature Lover)
KathyF
Posts: 3519
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.

I'm not sure what defines an 'established' colony, but I read on here somewhere to ensure you have a sustainable colony, (ie, a long-lived colony), you need a minimum of 14 to 24 pairs. **caveat - I'm not finished with my coffee yet, so I could be wrong about that higher number....it was referring to the number of losses expected each year due to migration challenges, illness, etc.
I'll try to find where I read that and share it.
"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
DelmaWhisenhunt
Posts: 778
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2005 10:17 am
Location: Idabel, OK

I prefer to use my logic when deciding whether a colony or not. Sometimes referred to as the fisherman's report, if I am telling the story the fish had a tendency to be bigger. If I am reporting martins can see more than most people if they are at my martin houses. Of course I have to admit it took me some 15 years or so to have any number to call a colony, so feel like I can finally brag. Not really brag, just thankful and appreciative my dream finally came to be. So be it two or more just enjoy and I am mixing a cup of coffee with the rockers on the front porch and taking a front row seat.
Delma Whisenhunt
Idabel, OK
Martin Lover
John Miller
Posts: 4773
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

I think an old article in the PMCA archives stated something in the range Kathy used. this better assures reliable returns each year based on mortality, and this part is not in the archives...I have come to believe that martins probably consider all the housing within a few miles to be one big colony. Early returns often go to the larger colony site first, and then fan out to the smaller sites in the neighborhood as more arrive. This is what I observe managing scattered housing in St. Louis city in Forest Park and the nearby Missouri Botanical Garden..banding studies would be needed to document this behavior better.

That said, there's nothing wrong with hosting martins at a small colony of a few pairs. It's probably closer to how martins nested historically for thousands of years in small colonies in an old dead tree with few wood pecker holes, or a small stand of dead timber from a fire or a flooded beaver pond where woodpeckers excavated holes here and there.


John M
kgwaguespack
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:54 pm
Location: Texas/Kingwood

John - I hope you're generally right about how martins propagate other colonies a few miles away. I am trying to get a small house started for the third year in a row (NE Houston area) and I am puzzled why I am having difficulties. I started another house about 10 yrs ago only two miles from my current location and it was in an even more crowded back yard. I'm guessing at the other location there was another colony closer and maybe that location was closer to water, but not sure.

Thanks,
Kevin
2002-2004 - Newbie; fledged a few martins
2005-2012 - dormant/moved residence
2013 - no success
2014 - second attempt; no dice
Chuck4
Posts: 861
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 10:05 am
Location: North MS
Martin Colony History: I started trying to attract Purple Martins in 2011. I got my first breeding pair in 2013.

2013-1 pair, 2014-4 pair, 2015-8 pair, 2016-12 pair 60 babies :-).

I found this definition after a search.

"PMCA definition of colony wrote:
Colony: A breeding aggregation of birds. A martin colony is just a random aggregation of unrelated birds attracted to a common breeding site. It is not an assemblage of birds that travels or functions as a group. Individual martins arrive in spring, and depart in late summer, independently of each other. At the colony site, individual martins aggressively compete with each other for nest cavities and mates. They in no way help or cooperate with each other. A person has a colony of Purple Martins (and is officially a "martin landlord") when they have two or more pairs breeding in the nesting compartments they offer."

So if you have at least two breeding pairs, then you officially have a colony. I learned something new today! :)
Last edited by Chuck4 on Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
PMCA Member
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Chuck4
Posts: 861
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 10:05 am
Location: North MS
Martin Colony History: I started trying to attract Purple Martins in 2011. I got my first breeding pair in 2013.

2013-1 pair, 2014-4 pair, 2015-8 pair, 2016-12 pair 60 babies :-).

I can also see where larger colonies will thrive better due to issues which would impact a colony, like martin mortality for what ever reason (migration, predation, death from old age etc.).
PMCA Member
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