A Promising Start Pt. 2

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FarmerHarv
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:18 pm
Location: West Central Saskatchewan
Martin Colony History: 2018 - First house up in late June, lots of visitors brought over by “Percy”, a very enthusiastic SY male.
2019 - 10 nests, 51 eggs, 41 hatched, 40 fledged.

Continuing on from last year's post/blog/ramblings at https://www.purplemartin.org/forum/view ... hp?t=34803, we're back for another season of martineering (hopefully).

Once again I had big plans of building a martin house, and once again it didn't happen. One is probably enough to start anyways, so the Bob Buska house went back up in mid April, and this year I attached 3 guy wires to ensure it didn't go over in the wind if we get enough rain to turn this clay soil into soup.

The sparrow traps went out in April also as there were a few still hanging around after winter. The final tally last year was 372, and so far this year another 34 have kept the cats happy. As another nice side effect of this effort we have roughly a bazillion Juncos, chipping and white crowned sparrows hopping around, which we never had before with all of the HOSP in the yard.

And then the waiting started. And the watching. And more waiting. Compulsively checking the scout arrival map a few times a day, while seeing the line of sightings move closer and closer, and then past our location, and then further and further away was agonizing. A few dots popped up around us, and yet we hadn't seen a single martin. Then the weather turned to crap, and I was actually hoping they wouldn't show up for another week until it warmed up a little.

So of course that's exactly what didn't happen. :grin: I just happened to be walking across the yard in the afternoon when I heard a familiar chirrup, and I swear it was Percy (in new purple feathers) sitting on a porch singing away. Within minutes there were eight more Martins circling and checking out the house, and although they all flew off shortly after I was thrilled to finally have seen some martins.

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A few hours later I heard them again just as it was starting to snow, and they were all huddled up on the lee side of the house looking as grumpy as my father when he came home from Palm Springs too early one year.

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A couple of them seemed to really struggle with the SREH slots, so I took a couple off so everyone could get inside for the night. They were all bedded down by dusk, and hopefully it warms up enough they can find some food over the next few days until this cold snap ends.

So aside from the weather it looks like a promising start to the year. More to come in the Adventures of Percy.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1661
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2019, 54 pair with 218 fledged youngsters. 83 total compartments available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified trio metal house units, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

Hi FarmerHarv,
Sounds like things are turning around for the better. I wish you the best this year. On the guy wires; if they are extending down to the ground you may want to consider not using them in the future. The reason is because squirrels can climb up to the martin housing; which may turn into a tragedy. Watch diligently this season for squirrels. Once the martins leave at seasons end, redo your set up by removing the guy wires and maybe strengthen the poles by replacing with heavier duty poles. Some landlords will no doubt suggest you take the guy wires down now, many opinions are most likely to follow. Basically, all I'm saying is guy wires may be a problem for your martins. I always feel bad being the bearer to bad news and always try to soften the blow and offer friendly constructive advice.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
BillieJR
Posts: 677
Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2017 11:39 am
Location: Monroe, WI

FarmerHarv - your story sounded a lot like mine til you got to the part of actually seeing purple martins. I still have not seen any this year yet. Sounds like you're off to a good start. Good luck!
Billie from south central Wisconsin
FarmerHarv
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:18 pm
Location: West Central Saskatchewan
Martin Colony History: 2018 - First house up in late June, lots of visitors brought over by “Percy”, a very enthusiastic SY male.
2019 - 10 nests, 51 eggs, 41 hatched, 40 fledged.

Dave, thanks for the very well written constructive advice. I’m not worried about squirrels, as the closest ones I know of are about a hundred miles away. I am a bit concerned about the martins possibly hitting a wire though, and only intend on having them attached when we’ll be gone for a few days and there’s a chance of a storm. In hindsight, and knowing this soil for what it is, I should’ve dropped an extra support post at least 6’ into the ground. Probably this fall I’ll pull the whole works out and do just that for peace of mind.

Thanks BillieJR. Here’s hoping you get some soon, good luck!
BillieJR
Posts: 677
Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2017 11:39 am
Location: Monroe, WI

Thanks! :)
Billie from south central Wisconsin
FarmerHarv
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:18 pm
Location: West Central Saskatchewan
Martin Colony History: 2018 - First house up in late June, lots of visitors brought over by “Percy”, a very enthusiastic SY male.
2019 - 10 nests, 51 eggs, 41 hatched, 40 fledged.

Well crap. I have seen exactly one starling in my life, and now there are at least half a dozen all over the martin house. Or there were, as I was able to get an angle on two of them with the rifle. But anyways, there were no martins here last night or this morning that I saw and now I might know why. It's unknown if they were able to breach the SREH yet, though it might be worth pulling a couple off and setting the traps in there to get a couple more. Here I thought with cleaning up the HOSP things would be smooth sailing. Heh, wrong.

I tried flipping some scrambled eggs to the martins that were here yesterday morning, but no takers before they flew off to hunt. Ordered up some crickets today but they won't be here for a week, hopefully they can find enough to eat on their own and the weather smartens up soon.
FarmerHarv
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:18 pm
Location: West Central Saskatchewan
Martin Colony History: 2018 - First house up in late June, lots of visitors brought over by “Percy”, a very enthusiastic SY male.
2019 - 10 nests, 51 eggs, 41 hatched, 40 fledged.

Its tough being a martin in SK this year...this one showed up after flying around in freezing fog this morning and was all frosted up. The sun is starting to burn through so he's melting slowly now, and thankfully the starlings haven't been back to harass him either.

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Fuzzmeister
Posts: 178
Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:02 pm
Location: Saskatchewan Canada

Farmerharv
Sounds like your having a lot of fun these days kind of what I was going through about a week and a half ago until it got cold and the snow came. I have nothing going on haven’t seen a Martin for days, last year this time my house was vibrating from activity sure hope it warms up soon!
Dave Duit
Posts: 1661
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2019, 54 pair with 218 fledged youngsters. 83 total compartments available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified trio metal house units, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

FarmerHarv,
Good to hear there are no squirrels in the area. I have tons of perch wires around my colony and so far all the martins have avoided running into wires. I think their flying abilities are amazing. Peace of mind is golden. I'm much like you in the sense that taking care of foreseeable problems makes a person relax without worries.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
FarmerHarv
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:18 pm
Location: West Central Saskatchewan
Martin Colony History: 2018 - First house up in late June, lots of visitors brought over by “Percy”, a very enthusiastic SY male.
2019 - 10 nests, 51 eggs, 41 hatched, 40 fledged.

After quite a bit of on again off again activity it seems that two pair are probably going to stick around. They're spending the nights at least, and hang out every morning on the east side waiting for the sun and hoping that today will be warmer than yesterday.

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It was -8C again last night, but the forecast looks promising from here out finally. I should receive my cricket order today, and will try flipping them some tonight and get them trained up in case it turns crappy again.

I took down the pretty ugly perch wire setup i had from last year, and added a bunch of 3/8" dowels to the house instead. Got to wondering though...is there such a thing as too many perch rods that they become an obstruction to flying, or any other potential problem?

In other news, the tree swallows just arrived yesterday and a pair has already taken to one of the new houses I set up outside the tree row.

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Hopefully that means the rest of the birds will be here soon. Could be a busy year.
FarmerHarv
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:18 pm
Location: West Central Saskatchewan
Martin Colony History: 2018 - First house up in late June, lots of visitors brought over by “Percy”, a very enthusiastic SY male.
2019 - 10 nests, 51 eggs, 41 hatched, 40 fledged.

It seems like every day Percy ranges out to find more tenants for "his" housing, and every so often a couple will wander over for a brief visit, but nobody stays for long. Well that all changed yesterday when we heard quite a bit of chatter out front and saw almost a dozen new martins checking out the house. There was a lot of activity all day, and it looked like another 3 pair were going to settle in for the night. It was below freezing again last night so nobody is in a hurry to venture out this morning, the way they peek out of the house in the morning reminds me of sleeping in a tent and checking the temperature outside with your nose in the morning.

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Percy and the other original pair have built straw nests in 3 compartments, but there still aren't any leaves on the trees for the finishing touches yet. Things are finally starting to green up though, so it shouldn't be too much longer before egg laying begins.
FarmerHarv
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:18 pm
Location: West Central Saskatchewan
Martin Colony History: 2018 - First house up in late June, lots of visitors brought over by “Percy”, a very enthusiastic SY male.
2019 - 10 nests, 51 eggs, 41 hatched, 40 fledged.

We're now up to 6 pairs hanging out, but nobody except for Percy and the original two have done any nest building yet.

But what a nest they have created...

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They hauled straw for three days straight into #9, and still bring the occasional bit in. Pretty soon there won't be any room left for themselves, let alone any eggs or nestlings. Looks like they found a leaf from the crab apple tree, and the poplars are finally leafing out so they might finish up by the weekend.
GFB
Posts: 60
Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2018 5:05 pm
Location: Ontario NY
Martin Colony History: I Started my first colony with my father in the late 1960's. Started building custom vinyl Martin houses last year 2018 and was successful with 10 birds fledged and it looks like several dozen birds are hanging around. Time to expand.
2018: 1 T-14 and 6 gourds. Fledged 10
2019: 2 T-14's and 6 gourds. Fledged 70

While on the nest material subject, Can someone tell me why my adults are removing all the nesting material I've placed in the back of the compartments of my T14's? I've been using some kind of dried long grass that was growing on the edge of the pond that that I shaped into a bowl shape. I have lots of long pine needle trees but I'm not sure if its soft pine needles and the ends are sharp so I didn't use them. Should I buy a bale of Straw?
FarmerHarv
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:18 pm
Location: West Central Saskatchewan
Martin Colony History: 2018 - First house up in late June, lots of visitors brought over by “Percy”, a very enthusiastic SY male.
2019 - 10 nests, 51 eggs, 41 hatched, 40 fledged.

And right after I type the above, I see two males coming in hot with leaves in their beaks. Sure enough, there must be a sale on poplar leaves at the local tree mart.

Here's one trying to get the perfect leaf...

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Rats, just a little piece.

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Oh well, it'll have to do.

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FarmerHarv
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:18 pm
Location: West Central Saskatchewan
Martin Colony History: 2018 - First house up in late June, lots of visitors brought over by “Percy”, a very enthusiastic SY male.
2019 - 10 nests, 51 eggs, 41 hatched, 40 fledged.

We just spread a bale of shredded red cedar mulch across the front of our house, and thought it might look good under the martin house too. Well, we're not sure if we like it, but the martins have taken a ton of it up to their nests so I guess it'll be staying.

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They also seem to like twigs also for some reason.

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Also made a quick platform feeder out of a fibreglass/aluminum 6'-12' extendable paint roller handle as can be seen in the first pic. It's held up to some pretty good winds so far, and is quick and easy to raise and lower. I'm hoping egg laying will start soon and figured we'd better have some egg shells and maybe a few crickets ready to go.
FarmerHarv
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:18 pm
Location: West Central Saskatchewan
Martin Colony History: 2018 - First house up in late June, lots of visitors brought over by “Percy”, a very enthusiastic SY male.
2019 - 10 nests, 51 eggs, 41 hatched, 40 fledged.

Watching these birds can definitely be entertaining alright. This male spent at least 5 minutes trying to get his load of twigs in the compartment...

https://youtu.be/hwXHK1VIppQ


And then his mate took over and got things done...

https://youtu.be/w-G22cAO4Y8
FarmerHarv
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:18 pm
Location: West Central Saskatchewan
Martin Colony History: 2018 - First house up in late June, lots of visitors brought over by “Percy”, a very enthusiastic SY male.
2019 - 10 nests, 51 eggs, 41 hatched, 40 fledged.

And...we have an egg! First egg ever...

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This was in the nest of the original pair of overachieving nest builders that arrived with Percy. There are now 3 nests that look finished, and two that are just getting started. Either they'll be laying their eggs on plain styrofoam, or be quite a bit behind this pair.

3 of the 5 tree swallow nests have eggs now also, things are starting to heat up.
sugarcreek
Posts: 214
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2016 10:43 am
Location: Sugarcreek, Ohio
Martin Colony History: 2016 First Yr.

Thanks for sharing your pic's ...Wish i knew the secret on how to share pics because it brings so much life to a post.
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 ?
FarmerHarv
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:18 pm
Location: West Central Saskatchewan
Martin Colony History: 2018 - First house up in late June, lots of visitors brought over by “Percy”, a very enthusiastic SY male.
2019 - 10 nests, 51 eggs, 41 hatched, 40 fledged.

sugarcreek wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 8:59 am
Thanks for sharing your pic's ...Wish i knew the secret on how to share pics because it brings so much life to a post.
I use Flickr.com to host and share pictures. It’s not too bad to use after a few times, although not as simple as facebook by any stretch. I have inserted images directly on the forum here that were 800x600 max and they seemed to work fine. I’m still stumped on how to get a video to embed though, for now you still need to click on a link to YouTube it seems.
FarmerHarv
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:18 pm
Location: West Central Saskatchewan
Martin Colony History: 2018 - First house up in late June, lots of visitors brought over by “Percy”, a very enthusiastic SY male.
2019 - 10 nests, 51 eggs, 41 hatched, 40 fledged.

It looks like 14 martins are staying here now. It's hard to get a count, but they were all sitting pretty yesterday and I thinks that's the final number.

Egg laying is continuing, and we're now up to 4 nests with potential martins in them. Noticed quite a few different nest building techniques as I made the rounds...

This is Percy's nest. They used a Lot of red cedar mulch with some straw. 3 eggs so far...go Percy!

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These two used almost all straw, with quite a few dead leaves. 3 eggs also.

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This pair used almost all twigs, with a little bit of straw intermixed. These are the ones from the videos above. Another trio here.

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continued.......
Last edited by FarmerHarv on Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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