Purple Martin Occupancy Levels In My Colony By Year

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Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4342
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Purple Martin Occupancy Levels In My Colony By Year

After living about 53 years of my life in the Tallahassee, Florida area, I moved to northwest Louisiana in December 2004 and started my current purple martin colony in 2005. I decided to retire “early”, be bold and try a new state! My colony is located next door to my good friend Bob Bozeman’s site and Bob has lived in this area all his life. When I arrived, he had a super martin colony of 150+ pairs of martins.

My martin colony has flourished and grown tremendously over the years. Martins are abundant in northwest Louisiana and we provide good quality housing and protection from competitors and predators. Our location is open with plenty of flying space. I believe anyone in this area can have a large thriving martin colony provided they take good care of their colony and have an open site.

Here are the martin stats by year for my martin colony; please note when the number of martin pairs hit 300+ then it became “a little difficult” to determine the “exact” number! However, I believe my totals are reasonably accurate.

2005

This was my first year and I erected 130 cavities including natural gourds, Super Gourds, and Lone Star aluminum houses. I attracted a whopping 81 pairs of martins that first season! My colony contained 28 ASY pairs and 53 SYs. This represents an occupancy level of 62%. I no doubt benefited from Bob’s super martin colony as the overflow went directly to my new site.

2006

After the fantastic success of 2005, I had no idea what would happen in 2006, but I figured I would achieve super colony status with 100+ pairs of martins. In 2006, I erected 219 cavities, including natural gourds, Super Gourds, Troyer Horizontals with cling plates, and Lone Star and Trio aluminum houses. I attracted 175 pairs of martins: 118 ASYs and 57 SYs. This represents an occupancy level of 80%.

2007

For 2007, I continued to increase the number of cavities offered from my previous season. I erected 286 cavities, including natural gourds, Super Gourds, Troyer Horizontals with cling plates, and Trendsetter, Lone Star and Trio aluminum houses. For my third season in northwest Louisiana, I attracted 254 pairs of martins and that represented an occupancy level of 89%. There were 160 ASY pairs and 94 SYs.

2008

In 2008, I erected 358 cavities, including natural gourds, Super Gourds, Troyer Horizontals with cling plates and tunnels/porches, and Trendsetter, Sunset Inn, Lone Star and Trio aluminum houses. I attracted 309 pairs of martins and that represented an occupancy level of 86%. There were 257 ASY pairs and 52 SYs.

2009

For 2009, I offered 372 cavities. This included Troyer Horizontal gourds with tunnels/porches and cling plates, Super Gourds, Excluder Gourds, natural gourds and Trendsetter, Sunset Inn, and Trio aluminum houses. I attracted 315 pairs of martins, 251 pairs of ASYs and 64 pairs of SYs reflecting an 85% occupancy level.

2010

For 2010, I erected 376 cavities. I did eliminate all natural gourds. I used Troyer Horizontal gourds with tunnels/porches and cling plates, Troyer Vertical Gourds, Super Gourds, Excluder Gourds, and Trendsetter, Sunset Inn, and Trio aluminum houses. This was the first season in my purple martin history that I did not use any natural gourds. Though I really like natural gourds, I had grown tired of the upkeep on naturals and have found that good quality opaque plastic gourds are just as attractive to martins. The martins readily accepted the plastic substitutes. I attracted 337 pairs of martins, 226 ASY pairs and 111 pairs of SYs reflecting an occupancy level of 90%.

2011

The 2011 martin season was a disaster for us. A possible tornado tore through and devastated our two colonies on April 26, 2011 and destroyed hundreds of martin eggs. Many houses and gourd racks were blown down. Fortunately good friends came to the rescue and helped us restore our colonies to almost the same level before the storm; most of the martins re-nested. However, a disastrous drought was underway and untold numbers of martin nestlings and fledglings starved to death due to a severe shortage of large flying insect prey. I ended up with 366 cavities and a remarkable 331 pairs of martins in spite of the tornado disaster for an occupancy level of 90%. I used Troyer Horizontal gourds with tunnels/porches and cling plates, Troyer Vertical Gourds, Super Gourds, Excluder Gourds, and Trendsetter and Trio aluminum houses. I did not differentiate between ASYs and SYs.

2012

The 2012 martin season was the opposite of 2011 and was the best I have ever had so far relative to the production of young and availability of plenty of food. We had significant rainfall during the fall, winter and early spring and this produced plenty of large insect prey like dragonflies. I erected 392 cavities and attracted 347 pairs of martins: 286 ASYs and 61 SYs. This represents an occupancy level of 89%. I used Troyer Horizontal gourds with tunnels/porches and cling plates, Troyer Vertical Gourds, Super Gourds, Excluder Gourds, and Trendsetter, Sunset Inn, Coates Watersedge and Trio aluminum houses.

2013

In 2013, I continued with 392 cavities and attracted 370 pairs of martins which is the largest number of martins I have ever had at that time. This represents an occupancy level of 94%. I used Troyer Horizontal gourds with tunnels/porches and cling plates, Troyer Vertical Gourds, Super Gourds, Excluder Gourds, and Trendsetter, Coates Watersedge and Trio aluminum houses. But unusual cold spells during April and early May damaged many eggs which did not hatch. So the production of young was not as good as in 2012. I did not differentiate between ASY and SY pairs relative to numbers.

2014

I did something different in 2014 and slightly reduced the number of cavities! This reduction was largely the result of some changes in housing types. I had 364 cavities and used Troyer Horizontal Gourds with tunnels/porches and cling plates, Troyer Vertical Gourds, Excluder Gourds, and Super Gourds. I also eliminated my Coates and Trio aluminum houses and continued only with Trendsetters. I attracted 340 pairs of martins for a 93% occupancy level and I did not differentiate between ASY and SY pairs relative to numbers.

2015

Well, in 2015 I increased the number of cavities over 2014! I erected 404 cavities and I used Excluder Gourds, Super Gourds, Troyer Vertical Gourds, and Troyer Horizontal Gourds with tunnels/porches and cling plates and Trendsetter aluminum houses. I attracted 365 pairs of martins for an occupancy level of 90%. I did not differentiate ASY and SY pairs by numbers.

2016

This season I kept the same number of cavities as in 2015 and erected 404 cavities. I used Excluder Gourds, Super Gourds, Troyer Vertical Gourds, and Troyer Horizontal Gourds with tunnels/porches and cling plates and Trendsetter aluminum houses. I attracted 376 pairs of martins for an occupancy level of 93%. I did not differentiate ASY and SY pairs by numbers. This total was highest number of pairs of martins I have ever had in any colony!

For 2017

I plan to use the same number of cavities as in 2016. I am getting ready to build pre-nests of pine straw as necessary and start hanging gourds. Late January will be here before you know it and we usually get our first martin during the last week!

My current martin colony has been in existence for 12 years now and several thousand martins have fledged; Bob has also fledged several thousand! Our two super martin colonies have most likely “seeded” many new colonies throughout northwest Louisiana and brought the joys of “martineering” to other folks.

Here are some recent photos of my current martin colony:

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Steve
PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season
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

Steve,

I am hoping my new colony grows as fast as yours. I am looking forward to get to North Carolina and getting started. I should have a place by the end of Feb when the Martins start to come up.
PMCA MEMBER
Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4342
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Hey James,

If there are other purple martin colonies nearby where you will live in North Carolina, that can increase the chances of more rapid growth. My colony is right next door to Bob's site and the overflow from his poured into my new colony. And the rest is history!

I have seen some large colonies in North Carolina in the past. This included both gourds and houses. I remember seeing HUGE natural gourd colonies a long time ago!

I will be looking forward to hearing about your new martin colony when you settle in your new home!

Good luck and keep us posted!

And an interesting botanical aspect of North Carolina...the Venus flytrap carnivorous plant is native to the Wilmington area. These plants are highly endangered now but do grow in bogs in certain locations.

Steve
PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season
G Saner
Posts: 113
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:37 pm
Location: TX/Kerrville
Martin Colony History: Fort Worth, TX (1967-1976), The Colony, TX (1981-1985), Carrollton, TX (1986-2013), Kerrville, TX (2015-present).

Two SuperGourd poles (12 gourds on each) at River Point Assisted Living Center.

Hi Steve,

I did a little quick math on your SY numbers for 2005-2010 and found that 29% of your pair were SY. On my admittedly lower numbers in my colonies, I find about the same percentage.

What does this say about how long a martin lives?

Gary
G Saner
Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4342
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Hey Gary,

I have read that as many as 75% of purple martin fledglings do not survive to return the next year as SYs. This may vary from one location to another and from one year to another. Martin fledglings face many dangers before and after becoming independent.

I have also read where up to 50% of adult martins die each year. So both adult and fledgling martins may have a relatively high mortality.

I generally see about a quarter to a third of my martin pairs are SYs on average. I don't know if this SY occupancy level has any correlation with the longevity of SY or ASY martins. Large super colonies like mine may tend to attract more SY males seeking territory and mates than smaller colonies.

Most SYs usually don't return to their natal colonies and tend to spread out. This helps to minimize inbreeding. I had many of my martin nestlings banded in 2012 and I did see a few return the next year to my colony and my next door neighbor's site. Some are still alive and successfully nested this year in both our colonies.

It would be interesting to determine the ASY/SY composition of multiple colonies over a wide geographical area and for a long period of time to see if there is any relationship to martin longevity and population dynamics.

Steve
PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season
Kyler
Posts: 893
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:15 pm
Location: Colby, Kansas
Martin Colony History: PMCA Member - Project MartinWatch - Enlarged Compartments - SREH - S&S Control - Mite Control - Predator Guards - Heat Control ( Vents and Insulation ) - Supplemental Feeding -

Manage 8 Colonies that consist of 250 Cavities in Colby Kansas.

Offer 78 Cavities Main Site
Offer 12 Cavities Golf Course
Offer 30 Cavities Grandpa’s Public Site
Offer 28 Cavities Grandpa’s Site
Offer 12 Cavities Homeowners Site
Offer 48 Cavities Homeowners Site
Offer 6 Cavities Home Site
Offer 36 Cavties Homeowners Site

Steve,
I know this was a really late post but I was just reading this and you said to got out of the other houses and only used Trendsetters. But what did you ever do with all those other houses? Thanks!

Kyler,
Purple Martin Landlords of Northwest KS
https://m.youtube.com/channel/UC9HDLGlbCmSYcSExIySwUQA

2013 & 2015 - 0 Pair -
2014 - 1 Pair - 4 Eggs - 3 Hatched - 3 Fledged -
2016 - 5 Pair - 27 Eggs - 24 Hatched - 13 Fledged -
2017 - 18 Pair - 102 Eggs - 78 Hatched - 69 Fledged -
2018 - 22 Pair - 115 Eggs - 92 Hatched - 86 Fledged -
2019 - 28 Pair - 144 Eggs - 131 Hatched - 125 Fledged -
2020 - 40 Pair - 190 Eggs - 133 Hatched - 111 Fledged So Far - (Bad Year! To Many Single SY Males)
Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4342
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Hey Kyler,

I gave most of my Goliads to Bob and we used the other Lone Star Alamo, San Jacinto and another Goliad and various Trios at our satellite martin colonies. I did give several Coates Watersedge and Sunset Inn houses to two other martin friends. I always give stuff away and never sell it!

I have finally settled on one house type and that is the Trendsetter. I like the other houses, but the Trendsetter is my favorite.

Steve
PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season
Kyler
Posts: 893
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:15 pm
Location: Colby, Kansas
Martin Colony History: PMCA Member - Project MartinWatch - Enlarged Compartments - SREH - S&S Control - Mite Control - Predator Guards - Heat Control ( Vents and Insulation ) - Supplemental Feeding -

Manage 8 Colonies that consist of 250 Cavities in Colby Kansas.

Offer 78 Cavities Main Site
Offer 12 Cavities Golf Course
Offer 30 Cavities Grandpa’s Public Site
Offer 28 Cavities Grandpa’s Site
Offer 12 Cavities Homeowners Site
Offer 48 Cavities Homeowners Site
Offer 6 Cavities Home Site
Offer 36 Cavties Homeowners Site

Steve,
Alright thanks that's what I figured but I wasn't for sure. Also so why do you like the Trendsetters so much? I really like the style but I'm 16 and I not sure if my mom would let me spend that kind of money you know? I'm all Trio houses right now but I'm planning on adding a Alamo in the next couple years!

Kyler,
Purple Martin Landlords of Northwest KS
https://m.youtube.com/channel/UC9HDLGlbCmSYcSExIySwUQA

2013 & 2015 - 0 Pair -
2014 - 1 Pair - 4 Eggs - 3 Hatched - 3 Fledged -
2016 - 5 Pair - 27 Eggs - 24 Hatched - 13 Fledged -
2017 - 18 Pair - 102 Eggs - 78 Hatched - 69 Fledged -
2018 - 22 Pair - 115 Eggs - 92 Hatched - 86 Fledged -
2019 - 28 Pair - 144 Eggs - 131 Hatched - 125 Fledged -
2020 - 40 Pair - 190 Eggs - 133 Hatched - 111 Fledged So Far - (Bad Year! To Many Single SY Males)
Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4342
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Hey Kyler,

First, I am so pleased to see young folks such as yourself showing a strong interest in purple martins! I got started way back in the "Jurassic" times of the early 1960s when I was a young boy. Your martin colony looks so good and I hope you will inspire other young folks to become martin landlords!

I can understand about the price issue of some martin houses/gourd racks! They can be quite expensive.

The Trios are excellent martin houses and I had my first one way back in 1965. And guess what? That old Trio was still standing at my Grandparents' old home site when I left Florida for Louisiana! So you are a making a good choice using Trio houses.

The Lonestar Alamo and Goliad are excellent houses, too.

Now why do I like the Trendsetters? I like the smaller 12 and 16 room systems over the larger ones. I like the staggered hole placement with one hole per floor to minimize nest domination issues. I like the wide porches with porch dividers which help to reduce nest domination and keep nestlings from moving along the porch and entering other rooms. I like the way you can easily remove the doors to conduct nest checks and clean out old nests. The Trendsetters also come with an internal venting system where you can open up a vent hole inside the rooms. You can now order a three inch square pole for Trendsetters rather than a two inch one. And the Trendsetters come assembled! You just have install them on the pole. These houses are first rate and the Amish business that makes them stands by their products and provides outstanding customer service.

Again, I am really impressed with your martin colony and seeing a young person having a strong interest in martins. Good luck in 2017!

Steve
PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season
Rodger Drye
Posts: 671
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:07 am
Location: NC/Mt. Pleasant
Martin Colony History: Have been hosting and providing a sanactuary for Purple Martins for 30 years.

Hey Steve,
Have to be impressed with your Record keeping over the Years. No doubt you have produced a lot of Bird's from your site Location. This has to be Good for the Species alone as well as for the many other Martin Fancier's in and around your area.
You are to be commended my friend on all the dedicated Hard Work you have put into the raising of Purple Martin's.!!!

I would think that would be well over 2000 Bird's a year You Host on average and maybe even more than that, especially with your friend Bob's Colony next door.!! Wow.!! That's a lot of Bird's Man!!! Not to mention your specific site and area to be able to sustain such a large congregation of Obligate Aerial Insectivores.!! I think it's Awesome.!!!

I only use different types of Gourd's. Like Kyler I'm curious as to why you like your Trendsetter Aluminum houses the Best.?
Do you have any of the T-14's.??

All I can say Is ( Keep Up the Good Work).!! Your appreciation is well deserved and I wish you congratulations and many more successful years as a A-1 Purple Martin Landlord.!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rodger
PMCA Member
Have been Hosting and Protecting Martin's for 30 years.
Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4342
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Hey Rodger,

Thank you for those kind remarks! I have always tried to keep some records of my various martin colonies to see how things go over a period of time. Plus raising a lot of martin fledglings helps the martin population in the long run as most disperse out from their natal colonies to other sites. One of the banded fledglings from my colony (banded in 2012) is now a member of a martin colony located about 100 miles north of me in Texarkana, Texas!

I explained my preference for the Trendsetter houses in my response to Kyler which you have probably read. I still have many more gourds than the houses and really prefer gourds. But I like to have some houses in my martin colony to give martins a choice.

Our martin colonies seem to be doing well so far in 2017. I hope you have a thriving martin colony this year and raise many fledglings, too.

Steve
PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season
MartinStudent
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:24 pm
Location: Mississippi

Hello Steve! I'm new to this activity and this forum, so forgive the lateness of my comment. first, I'm awed by your PM housing. Wow! Second, may I ask what are those things on the bottom of the pole to fend off predators? They mush work, but how?
Thanks for such an informative post! Truly incredible!
Animal Lover. Voice for animals. Purple Martin Landlord Wannabe. Proponent for large cavities. :grin:
jfwestjr
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:01 pm
Location: Deltona, FL

Second, may I ask what are those things on the bottom of the pole to fend off predators? They mush work, but how?
Those are wadded up balls of bird netting. If a snake tries to climb through it, it'll get stuck.

Image

http://www.chuckspurplemartinpage.com/
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