9 year old founder going for 10

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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.

My founding male who started my colony back in 2009 was an ASY male that year. So he was born in 2007. He spent the entire summer from about memorial day in 2008 as a sub adult at my site singing on the gourd rack to the dawnsong. I can remember him well as he was short on stature (he is small) and looked like a female with no real dark patches to brag about. He really did not make much attempt to find a female. He was content to watch us swim in the pool instead. I thought he forgot about me or died in transit in spring of 2009. I cut down a large pin oak tree too and all seemed lost once again in my 28 year quest to attract my first pair.

Then one windy day on May 16th an ASY male made the scene and chirped around seeming very exited to return home. He flew all around where the pin oak was removed almost thanking me that it was gone. Then he flew right up to his favorite spot on the gourd rack that he spent the previous summer. Well I ran around like a nut screaming "he came back".... "he made it back" Yep my family thought I lost it. Ha Ha.

Well he proceeded to take up residence in the same easterly facing gourd on the top of the rack as that subbie from the year before. Although he was black now it was still that same little shape up there. The rest is history. He finally lured a SY female to stay with him in late June and they built a nest and raised four young. From there my colony has grown to about 40 pair annually.

Each year he has come north a little earlier and he always took 2 gourds. One for the family and one for him to sleep. Last year however he could not defend that second gourd and lost it to a larger, younger and stronger ASY male. There are still blood stains inside that gourd as a reminder. About 3 years ago he barely made it home in very cold march weather. He looked awful and sounded awful. But I managed to nurse him back to health by feeding him. Although he never could chirp loud that entire summer. Just a mild squeak.

This spring once again I am wondering if he will return. It would be his 10th birthday year. There are many (most) male Martins I can not tell apart. But this little tough founding father is pretty unmistakable to me. Even if he returns however it may be a sad year for him. He has lived a long life and has left a great legacy. (But you never know.... he may have one more good year in him.) I guess I will know soon.

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.
itroyer
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2015 2:07 pm
Location: OH/Alliance
Martin Colony History: 2016- 3 pair 13 fledged
2017- 18 pair 61 fledged
2018- 40 pair 162 fledged

Wow that is a neat story, I got my first in 2014 my founding father nested here 3 yr now, i hope mine gets to 10 yr old
First year 2012 got housing up may 25th
2013 sy visitors
2014 one sy pair
2015 1 pair asy male sy female fledged 5
2016 3 pair 13 fledged
sugarcreek
Posts: 215
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2016 10:43 am
Location: Sugarcreek, Ohio
Martin Colony History: 2016 First Yr.

Great story , Thanks for sharing.
2016 - 1st Yr. 14 Compartments 4 Active Nests 9 fledged, 2.25 Fledged per Active Nest
2017 - 2nd Yr. 36 Compartments 18 Active Nests 65 Fledged, 3.61 Fledged per Active Nest
2018 - 3rd Yr. 54 Compartments 43 Active Nests 169 Fledged, 3.93 Fledged per Active Nest
2019 - 4th Yr. 108 Compartments 67 Active Nests 209 Fledged, 3.12 Fledged per Active Nest
2020 - 5th Yr. 108 Compartments ?
MichaelH
Posts: 586
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2015 10:10 am
Location: IL/Gillespie
Martin Colony History: 2015 28 cavities 2 pairs
2016 big upgrade 56cavities 16 pairs great year
2017. 76 cavities 36 pairs
2018. 146 cavities

Yes that is a great story thanks for sharing hope the old man comes back good luck have a great season
Mick
2018 146 cavities.
ToyinPA
Posts: 2126
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.

Doug:
I hope he makes it back this year. I have read they can live into their teens.

Amazing they travel so far each year & end up in the same cavity. Some years they arrive looking battered & exhausted. I often wonder what they endured to return home. Last year I had 11 extra Martins come in with my colony, about an hour before dark, on May 1st. It barely made it to 48 that day & was raining. They really looked bad. Most sat with wings drooping. I flipped crickets, some of them ate, most did not. They spent the night. 2 females died the next morning. The remaining 9 pushed on north.

I lost my Alpha female last year to a Starling attack. "Eve" had paired with Adam year after year. I could tell her apart from the rest of the ASY females as she was very feisty. She took nothing from any of the other Martins, including Adam. We'd watch her put him in his place many times. A young starling got in her nest last year just as egg laying was starting. Not once but twice in the same day & attacked her. She suffered internal injuries & died a few days later.

I also had an ASY male with a squeaky voice. He was the last to get a female.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
marcus
Posts: 314
Joined: Tue May 10, 2016 10:21 pm
Location: Fairland OK
Martin Colony History: Mom n Dad had a plastic 12 unit martin house with some martins as long as I can remember. In 2013 they had 1 pair. I don't think they fledged any. I then started learning how to take care of martins and in 2014 we took that house down and put up a Troyer 18 gourd rack. We had 7 pair with 28 fledged.That summer I built a T-14 (I was only 12). I was also given 4 natural gourds that I hung beneath the T-14. In 2015, we had 23 pair although only 22 pair fledged young. They fledged 88 young. In 2016, we had 36 pair, 210 eggs, 163 hatched, 149 fledge!! One pair fledged 2 broods. In 2017, I had 36 pair with 35 fledging young. They laid 204 eggs, hatched 155, and fledged 152.

Isn't that so neat that we can recognize individual birds from year to year? I too have a bird I recognize. She is an ASY female and I recognize her each year by her dark belly.( almost looks like a male!) I noticed her first in 2015. When I first saw her, I wasn't sure if it was even a female. But then her ASY male mate popped out of the gourd behind her. She raised 4 young that year. In 2015, she moved one gourd over. Her ASY mate brought green leaves in to add to my pre-nest of pine needles and that's all the nest they made. They raised 3 young that year and those three young were banded!!!! If she makes it back this year, she will be 4 years old. :)
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 happy to see that age 13 is indeed a possibility for a Martin. Who knows maybe a few more years?

Last year I too had a fatality due to a starling very early in the season. Somehow it got past a modified clinger entrance and the result was the Martin suffered wing entrapment with the starling inside the cavity. I freed the Martin but the starling had pecked him enough that he could not fly. He later died.

The only positive is that this was the long standing male on the other side of my colony that was a bully. He consumed the entire one side of the T-14 for years and was extremely noisy and aggressive toward all the other birds. So afterward the entire side of the T-14 filled up and I had a much more peaceful colony. At least it was him that died. I believed him to be a bird from my third year I nicknamed "chase" the troublemaker. I actually wrote an article about him but it was not published. If anyone is interested I could probably post it. I think I still have it on an old computer.

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.
Archer
Posts: 757
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.

I love a good story, thanks.
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.
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.

Wonderful Story Doug,
That is Great that you have a special Bird that returns every year.! I can only hope that he keeps returning for a long time.
Yes Starlings can be detrimental to a Martin's health. Last year I tried Round Holes again and I knew better. I had wishful thinking, but a Starling trapped a beautiful ASY Male in a THG and pecked his eyes out and he died. In turn I killed 6 Starlings.!! I have 2 NBT"s and a Uncle Blain's Repeating. Last year I eliminated 44 Starlings and 105 Sparrows.!! So far this year I've trapped 3 Starlings and oddly enough No Sparrows. A lot of Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Dark Eyed Juncos, so I know my Traps working o.k.
Good Luck and I hope your bird makes it back.!!
Rodger
PMCA Member
Have been Hosting and Protecting Martin's for 30 years.
Luv Ya Purple
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:44 pm
Location: SE Texas
Martin Colony History: 2012 - 2014 - 0 pair
2015 - 1 pair
2016 - 5 pairs

Good Read. 9 years is a long time for a wild bird to live if you think about it.
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