PUZZLED in Oklahoma - Baffled / Looking for Answers

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loranking
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:32 am
Location: Oklahoma

I am a 17 year Oklahoma PM veteran landlord who lives near Tulsa Oklahoma. I have had an extremely successful colony for the last 17 year.

As of Sunday March 26, 2017, I do not have any scouts at my site. Normally by this time of year I would have at least 5-10 pairs of scouts.

My returning martin scout numbers were way down last year in 2016 as I only had 7 pair compared to the 18 pair I had in 2015; and two of those in 2016 were sub-adults who took up residency.

I had one male/female pair visit my site this past week but they apparently moved on the next day. I have seen and heard a PM or two flying overhead in my area but no martins are visiting.

I am totally baffled at why my scouts have not returned this year thus far. I was very concerned last year at my returning scout numbers and it would appear that my scouts may not return at all this year. Something has definitely happened to my scouts but what?

I am hoping maybe some of you veteran PM landlords, biologist, Ornithologist or conservationists can weigh in on the possibility’s and reasons of what I may be experiencing at my site and why my colony is disappearing. I know first things come to mind for site abandonment is predatory in nature, but this is not the case.

Thank you!
Loran King
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

It sounds like something happened during the 2015 nesting season, resulting in smaller numbers in 2016 to (so far, but they are still coming!) none yet this year.

Some info about your housing would be helpful - what kind you use, what kind of predator guards on poles, etc. And your location - is it urban, suburban, rural? Do you monitor or do nest checks, keep records? All of those will help.

Why do you say predation is not reason for decline? Hopefully birds that are still moving north for next couple of months will find you.
cheryls
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:50 pm
Location: Washington County, Oklahoma

I live in Copan, Oklahoma, just north of you about 50 miles or so. By this time last year, I had 12 martins at my site. This will be my fifth year having 30 pairs last year. Started with one pair the first year, then 5 pairs, then 15 pairs and then 30 last year. I was just wondering myself where are the martins. I have only one male spending the night and with a male and female that visits during the day. I do drive by neighboring sites and have not seen any martins at their sites as well. Hoping they are just taking their sweet time getting here.
RC Moser
Posts: 1537
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2003 3:25 am

My guess is you had snake attack (or Owl attack?) that when from one cavity to the next wiping out your Colony. I hope you've done regular nest check last year or the year before? When I had my PM colony couple years ago snake gone through 4 cavities in about three days or so. I suspected something on the second day by male just peaking in his compartment but would not go in, My fault for not checking nests at least every other day. I hope this is not the case cause once snake wipes out colony what birds are left won't return and it takes awhile to regain new martins. IMO people don't realize what snakes can do, IMO all PM poles should have snake guards on them and nest check as must as possible. Really need more information? like what type of housing and entry holes, predator guards, problems in the pass?
summer85cowgirl
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun May 01, 2016 7:57 am
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Martin Colony History: 2015-put up the house, as is, and no takers.
2016-Modified the house for larger rooms, added two gourds, and played the dawn song daily. First pair arrived! 5 eggs, all hatched, but only 4 babies remain. None have fledged yet, but any day now!! Update: 3 out of 5 babies made it to fledgling! All flew off!

Hello fellow Okie!

I am new to this whole landlord thing, as last year was our first year to have a family of Martins and successful rearing/fledging of 3-4 out of 5 babies (we had 5 eggs, then after they hatched only noticed 4 babies, and officially only saw 3 fledge at the same time...so we're not sure if it was 3 or 4 who made it to fledge). I would think this would classify as a 'successful rearing' (but I'm not sure) and we are expecting them back this season. Saturday (March 25th) was the first day we say martins in our area. We saw one flying around our house singing, but he didn't stick around. Then on Sunday (March 26th, yesterday) we had 5 fly over the martin house carrying on and swooping by, but they too moved on. Later that afternoon we had 3 come by for a visit, followed by 1 and then 2 in the late afternoon. However, none stuck around and only 1 landed on the house, so I'm assuming these were just passing through. We are in central OKC, just south of Lake Hefner. I hope both yours and my birds are just taking their time getting here. I will be heartbroken if they don't return. Good luck!!

Abby
Okie
Posts: 541
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:26 pm
Location: Claremore, OK
Martin Colony History: 2016 Informed landlord now Have 2 pair returning from 2015 That is a miracle. Hoping for a very successful year, sparrow population on decline.
First house was plastic with crescent holes Had martins within a few days. Ignorant landlord gradually lost them
Then got Trio House and still lost most of them. Lots of sparrows

Nice to hear from all you fellow Okies. I am wondering too as I have not spotted a single Martin in my area of Claremore. I'm hoping they are just doing some sight seeing. I shudder to even think there has been a die off of some sort. We may be just pushing the clock. Maybe they did not get the memo about the time change?
Loran are you north or south of Tulsa. Agree with others that the more specific info the better the experts can provide suggestions.
Please let us know how your sight progresses. Good luck.
Okie
PMCA member
2016 Started with 2 pair, 1 pair abandoned after HOSP destroyed eggs
1 pair= 6 eggs, 6 fledged
2017 1 pair so far, But they abandoned before nest complete for ?reason? Now Bridless and joined the Wannabes
2018 One pair ASY male SY female 5 eggs, 5 fledged
Larry Kronemeyer
Posts: 494
Joined: Mon May 22, 2006 5:27 pm
Location: Illinois/Millstadt

Loran
I am not an expert on martins. I cull whatever information I can off of this website and from the people who share their knowledge and insights on this forum.
I live in Illinois. I, too, have only two birds here. This time last year I had six. But I expected this. Last year my scout was lost to an injury and my second early male disappeared during nesting time, probably due to a hawk, no way to say for sure. They were both older males and they ruled the site for a number of years. I'm assuming they were the same older returning scouts because they returned to the same compartments, came in about the same day each year and knew my signal for supplemental feeling. So let's say they were the same old timers. Well, they didn't survive last year. Therefore I never expected them to show up this year and the number of early arrivals would be changed. I'm sure there is a flaw in that logic somewhere :lol:
I had a great deal of hawk pressure toward the end of last year's nesting season. However most of the early martins were long gone by then. Still could be a factor though.
This spring weather has made it another difficult migration year for our marins. That could also be a factor.
So, I'm not going to panic (yet!) . Time will tell.
Hang in there.
Judy
Larry and Judy Kronemeyer
est. 1999
1-12 compartment Trendsetter and 4 gourds(crescents)
1 T-14 and 4 gourds (crescents)
12 gourd rack (crescents)
Member PMCA
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.

Fellow Okies,
I too had this problem. I saw the first martin of the season on the 1st and was rarely seeing any until the 22nd when I saw 8 martins. Ever since, I have had 6 to 8 martins around and they are my birds. They love mealworms! I flipped 460 mealworms the last 4 days and they just love them! So, be prepared. You may get a whole bunch all at once.
eyeamtheman
Posts: 633
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 3:21 pm
Location: Quitman, La
Martin Colony History: Super colony

I'm thinking you've had predator trouble.
Keep us posted and good luck.
Johnny
Dave Duit
Posts: 1757
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

Don't give up hope. Even if you had a predator attack lasts season, you may be able to start over and attract new SY pairs this year.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
loranking
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:32 am
Location: Oklahoma

Louise Chambers wrote:It sounds like something happened during the 2015 nesting season, resulting in smaller numbers in 2016 to (so far, but they are still coming!) none yet this year.

Some info about your housing would be helpful - what kind you use, what kind of predator guards on poles, etc. And your location - is it urban, suburban, rural? Do you monitor or do nest checks, keep records? All of those will help.

Why do you say predation is not reason for decline? Hopefully birds that are still moving north for next couple of months will find you.

Thank you, Louise, for chiming in on my issue! I can find no evidence of such predators at my site. All of my martins had successful nest and all fledged in 2015; it just that half my scouts did not return in 2016.

I have the PMCS Supergourds with excluders; I do have predator guards installed; i live in a semi-rural area with a 1 acre pond close by; and yes, I do regular nest checks; no trees or other obstructions. I believe I may have three scouts as of 3-28-17. If I recall correctly, I believe Tulsa had a serious thunderstorm around August 20, 2015 that killed a lot of martins at the communal roost in downtown Tulsa. Just makes me wonder if my martins were in that batch. I doubt very seriously, but who knows.

Thank you very much for your reply!
loranking
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:32 am
Location: Oklahoma

cheryls wrote:I live in Copan, Oklahoma, just north of you about 50 miles or so. By this time last year, I had 12 martins at my site. This will be my fifth year having 30 pairs last year. Started with one pair the first year, then 5 pairs, then 15 pairs and then 30 last year. I was just wondering myself where are the martins. I have only one male spending the night and with a male and female that visits during the day. I do drive by neighboring sites and have not seen any martins at their sites as well. Hoping they are just taking their sweet time getting here.

Thank you for your reply! Its good to know others in my area are experiencing the same thing and its just not me. As of 3-28-17, I believe I know have three scouts. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Thank you for your reply!
loranking
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:32 am
Location: Oklahoma

RC Moser wrote:My guess is you had snake attack (or Owl attack?) that when from one cavity to the next wiping out your Colony. I hope you've done regular nest check last year or the year before? When I had my PM colony couple years ago snake gone through 4 cavities in about three days or so. I suspected something on the second day by male just peaking in his compartment but would not go in, My fault for not checking nests at least every other day. I hope this is not the case cause once snake wipes out colony what birds are left won't return and it takes awhile to regain new martins. IMO people don't realize what snakes can do, IMO all PM poles should have snake guards on them and nest check as must as possible. Really need more information? like what type of housing and entry holes, predator guards, problems in the pass?
Thank you for your reply! I appreciate your thoughts on my issue.

See my reply message from Louise Chambers
loranking
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:32 am
Location: Oklahoma

summer85cowgirl wrote:Hello fellow Okie!

I am new to this whole landlord thing, as last year was our first year to have a family of Martins and successful rearing/fledging of 3-4 out of 5 babies (we had 5 eggs, then after they hatched only noticed 4 babies, and officially only saw 3 fledge at the same time...so we're not sure if it was 3 or 4 who made it to fledge). I would think this would classify as a 'successful rearing' (but I'm not sure) and we are expecting them back this season. Saturday (March 25th) was the first day we say martins in our area. We saw one flying around our house singing, but he didn't stick around. Then on Sunday (March 26th, yesterday) we had 5 fly over the martin house carrying on and swooping by, but they too moved on. Later that afternoon we had 3 come by for a visit, followed by 1 and then 2 in the late afternoon. However, none stuck around and only 1 landed on the house, so I'm assuming these were just passing through. We are in central OKC, just south of Lake Hefner. I hope both yours and my birds are just taking their time getting here. I will be heartbroken if they don't return. Good luck!!

Abby

Thank you Abby for your reply! See my reply post to Louise Chambers. Sounds like our martins are just running late this year for some unknown resaon. Happy martining this year!
loranking
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:32 am
Location: Oklahoma

Dave Duit wrote:Don't give up hope. Even if you had a predator attack lasts season, you may be able to start over and attract new SY pairs this year.
Thank you for your reply. See my reply to Louise Chambers. Happy martining this season!
loranking
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:32 am
Location: Oklahoma

Dave Duit wrote:Don't give up hope. Even if you had a predator attack lasts season, you may be able to start over and attract new SY pairs this year.
Thank you for your reply. See my reply to Louise Chambers. Not giving up at all. I and my colony will survive! Happy martining this season!
loranking
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:32 am
Location: Oklahoma

Dave Duit wrote:Don't give up hope. Even if you had a predator attack lasts season, you may be able to start over and attract new SY pairs this year.
Thank you for your reply. See my reply to Louise Chambers. Not giving up at all. I and my colony will survive! Happy martining this season!
loranking
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:32 am
Location: Oklahoma

Okie wrote:Nice to hear from all you fellow Okies. I am wondering too as I have not spotted a single Martin in my area of Claremore. I'm hoping they are just doing some sight seeing. I shudder to even think there has been a die off of some sort. We may be just pushing the clock. Maybe they did not get the memo about the time change?
Loran are you north or south of Tulsa. Agree with others that the more specific info the better the experts can provide suggestions.
Please let us know how your sight progresses. Good luck.
Thank you for your reply! See my reply to Louise Chambers. I actually live in Owasso. I guess our martins are just running late this year. Keeping my fingers crossed. Happy martining this year!
loranking
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:32 am
Location: Oklahoma

eyeamtheman wrote:I'm thinking you've had predator trouble.
Keep us posted and good luck.

Thank you for your reply. See my reply to Louise Chambers. Happy martining this season!
loranking
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:32 am
Location: Oklahoma

marcus wrote:Fellow Okies,
I too had this problem. I saw the first martin of the season on the 1st and was rarely seeing any until the 22nd when I saw 8 martins. Ever since, I have had 6 to 8 martins around and they are my birds. They love mealworms! I flipped 460 mealworms the last 4 days and they just love them! So, be prepared. You may get a whole bunch all at once.

Thank you for your reply. See my reply to Louise Chambers. I have never had to supplement feeding; glad to know your martins are enjoying a treat .... Happy martining this season!
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