My Martins showed up and it'S still cold!!

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Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:38 pm
Location: Galveston, Texas

Hey all,

I post don't post to often, but I have 10 martins in my houses, and it's cold and windy. I am worried that they don't have anything to eat!!!
Can I put mealworms in the cavities of my houses to feed them, or is this a BAD idea? Any help would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks
kim w.
Posts: 89
Joined: Mon May 05, 2014 6:43 pm
Location: IN/Goshen

There is a post at the top of this page that has a lot of feeding info
Kim W.
Posts: 523
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 7:35 am
Location: Kansas, Lawrence
Martin Colony History: 1 gourd rack with 24 gourd capacity. 2018, my 11th year hosting martins.
18 pair in 2017.

Checking the weather in Galveston, you should be fine with high 40's low 50's. Cold to us, but not so much for Martins.
PMCA Member, Single Gourd Rack, 2019 marks 12 years hosting martins.
Ed Svetich-WI
Posts: 798
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 10:05 pm
Location: Brooks, Wi (McGinnis Lake)
Martin Colony History: 24 Super and Excluder Gourds on two gourd racks, all SREH. Full occupancy. My philosophy is to maximize fledge % with existing cavities rather than adding gourds to grow colony, thus providing opportunities for new colony expansion. Fledge over 100 nestlings yearly from 24 gourds. Band nestlings in cooperation with state university. 2019 Adendum: Reduced colony size to 12 gourds to focus on more intensive management regimen.

I agree with Gene as to temperature. Here in Wisconsin the martins will be sitting in the sun preening and out feeding at 50°. I remember a post here on the Forum or the Update some time ago about someone worrying about needing to put heating elements in their martin housing so that the martins did not freeze at 60°. That is a long was from cold. Now another scenario is rain and wind for several days. That changes the equation. I am not saying not to supplement food for martins if they are in distress.

How do you tell a tourist from Wisconsin on the beach in Texas in February? They are the ones in shorts and flip flops while the natives are bundled up. The martins are more resilient than we give them credit for in some situations.I have a heated bird bath outside all winter. The birds will be taking a bath frequently when it is below zero. It's all relative.

It's going to hit 18° here today. We may get by with a flannel shirt outside.


John Barrow
Posts: 948
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:12 pm
Location: Corpus Christi / Sandia , Texas

Beach 42, as pointed out above there is good information on supplemental feeding found at the top of the page. One article has a link to another article on Strategies for Supp. Feeding. You will find that adding meal worms to a cavity is an accepted practice. ... ee-367.pdf

Writing from Corpus Christi, TX, I would agree that weather has limited or precluded the flying of insects during several days of the last few weeks. Fortunately these periods have been relatively short and followed by better feeding opportunities. While the weather we have experienced during this period might appear mild to those up north, they are not housing martins that might have been faced with flying several hundred miles across the Gulf of Mexico directly into the cold, wet headwinds. I have witnessed that scenario, by itself, render Day One supp feeding necessary to save the lives of many martins that survived the crossing. In the link above you can read my thoughts about Day One feeding, as well as Jim Ray's use of in cavity meal worm feeding at his Canyon, Tx martin colony.

Thank you for considering the life saving effort to supplemental feed.

Member/Mentor-PMCA. I do regular nestchecks and participate in PROJECT MARTINWATCH!! Coordinated 3 geolocator studies-2009, 2010 & 2013. State and Fed licensed bander (retired Jan., 2020)
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:38 pm
Location: Galveston, Texas

Thanks for all of the feedback. My martins look very tired and are fluffed up. We are supposed to have a warm front coming but it is supposed to be short lived. Last year they did not show up until March 19, they are a month early. I AM NOT complaining but feel sorry for them. Thanks again!!
Posts: 887
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- didnt know anything about martins, put up an all wrong house in 2016 and had two come by and inspect all the cavities. Left soon after not to return. Learned what i could on PMCA made adjustments and next year was successful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
Home colony: mix natural gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satelite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 gourds: PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mino castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
PMCA member

Beach 42,
How are your birds holding up? weather is still nasty, one more front coming Friday or sat but its supposed to be short lived like you say and good after that. seems like we have to get them over that hump, during their first time back when they are at a low point.
I have a feeder up (first time) but if those cold, tired birds show Im going to immediately start with the feeder, and put dead crickets and meal worms on the balconies and just inside the gourds. Its been very cold down here lately.

John has a great point, the first timers here are different from those who come is harsher, they are fresh from the Gulf, flew right into that cold wind, choose their site and cant find food.
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
R Mohler
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2018 2:15 am
Location: Fort Worth, Texas Tarrant County
Martin Colony History: 2005 began our love and knowledge of the Purple Martins. We started with an S&K plastic house 12 room and later converted it to an expanded 6 room house. The following year erected a Trio Castle and 16 room Coates Water Edge. In 2011 built a western red cedar wooden house. 2014 purchased an 18 K Series gourd rack and sold all metal housing. Now have the wood house and the gourd rack. Last year 2017 had 25 pair and fledged 132 young.

We always love to see their return and six of ours returned three days ago. When they arrived it was in the 70's but yesterday it dropped 40 degrees and rained all night and all day today it is 33 degrees out now here in the DFW area. We can hear the martins in the gourds and will keep a close eye on the weather. Right now it doesn't look promising for dry warmer weather any time soon. Supplemental feeding may be required for them to survive this crazy weather.

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