First successful year

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Posts: 24
Joined: Thu May 24, 2018 8:38 am
Location: Corolla, NC

This purple martin business is one learning experience after another.

Last year was bad - a snake ate all my eggs, despite having netting up. The problem, I think, was a less than wonderful job putting up the netting.

This year I used a Troyer predator guard, which has so far met the need. As of last cavity check, I had 3 active nests, one with fledglings, one with pinkies and one with 3 eggs and a new hatchling. A total of 12 eggs and babies. There are a few other nests-in-progress, and I have a total of 11-12 PMs hanging around mainly full time, but I don't expect any more clutches this late in the season.

I've learned a lot - mainly how to think in terms of predators and competition.

Around here, the 2 main predators are snakes and Coopers hawks. Snakes are a very serious problem. I wish I would have understood the seriousness last year. This year I took them seriously, and it saved my colony. In hindsight, it was nuts to spend hundreds on housing, then skimp on a predator guard. Coopers hawks around here are always accompanied by a flock of attacking PMs - they chase and harass from nest to nest. We have several other colonies in the area (though 95% of the homes are vacation rentals, so the PM houses are intended as decoration. The better ones have colonies, but most are too small or otherwise inappropriate, and don't have much beyond HOSPs and wrens.) I think the hawks will be more of a problem when the fledglings start to try flying... we'll see.

The main competition here are tree swallows and HOSPs. Knock wood, the HOSPs are not so bad. One very annoying one last year, but this year the PMs, once established, were able to chase them off. The TSs were a problem early in the season. They arrive before the PMs, and once they got on the house, would chase off any PM that approached. I tried the TS protocol without success, so the only thing to do was to close all the cavities for about 10 days, then hope the PMs established before the TSs. That worked. Next year I plan to be a bit less eager to open housing in the spring, to give the TSs a chance to nest elsewhere. We've has a couple starling visits, but they don't stay more than a few minutes. I think the Conley 2 openings dissuade them. We also have a lot of carolina wrens in the area, this being carolina. They don't compete, but do steal nesting material.

Lastly, putting a fair bit of nesting materials in the cavities seemed to help a lot
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Congratulations on a very good year. Snakes are a big threat here. I’ve used electric predator guards here for more than a decade without any breach. That is, until this year. I use the same power source that supplies the fence on our farm and my dad had unhooked the portion of the fence that runs behind my house because it had a short in it. I didn’t realize it and it cost me 3 nests. I found snake skin in all 3 gourds.

Tree swallows are relatively new to nesting in our area. We’ve had them here for around 10-12 years. Oddly, they arrive later than the Martins so I’ve never had an issue with them.

Keep ridding your area of HOSP and it will serve your Martin colony well.

Keep up the good work!
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
remington martins
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jun 25, 2019 8:48 pm
Location: Oklahoma

I unfortunately found a rat snake in one of my nests, it had devoured both parents and 3 of the 6 babies- after doling out punishment to the rat snake I then found myself looking for foster parents for the 3 orphans. I placed 1 in a nest of 4 similar sized babies and the remaining 2 in a nest of a lone baby of similar size. I was fearful that the odor of the snake that had to be on the orphans would be a detriment to the new foster parents- but the only way to know was to try. Immediately the parents in the nest containing 5 now instead of 4 went into resuming their feeding- but still I did not know if they would take in the NEW baby. The parents of the nest containing 3 babies now instead of 1- were skeptical in that now there were 3 instead of 1. After 1 hour they however did resume going into their nests and feeding- but again were they feeding the orphans. It is now 11 days later and I am excited to say that all orphans were taken in by the foster parents and all the babies are doing just fine to include the original 3 orphans.
It is now also 11 days later since I installed electric fence charging grid to each of my 3 poles and the snake problem seems to have disappeared!!
Posts: 175
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:21 pm
Location: Lawrence, KS area
Martin Colony History: 2015 - 1 pair, not successful (Sparrows)
2016 - 1 pair, 4 young
2017 - 5 pair, 23 young
2018 - 8 pair, 40 young, two deaths most likely due to heat.
2019 - 18 pair, 74 eggs, 1 nest abandoned, all the rest successful.
2020 - 32 nests, unknown exact egg numbers, 1 death.


Sure hope I never have to deal with snakes, luckily my dogs do a pretty good job of keeping any preditors out of the back yard.
Dave Reynolds
Posts: 1886
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:35 pm
Location: Little Hocking, Oh.
Martin Colony History: 2018 Success at my Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”.
2019 Success at my home Site "Little Hocking, Ohio".

.... Congratulations.... to you and your Martins... :wink: :wink:

Home Site “Little Hocking, Ohio”
2010 / 2018 -- Lots of Visitors
2019 — 1 Pair, 5 Eggs, 5 Babies, 5 fledged. :wink:
2020 — 1 Pair, 4 Eggs, 4 Babies, 4 fledged. :wink:
2021 — Waiting on March 2021

Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”
2018 -- 15 Pair, 58 Eggs, 38 Hatched and 36 Fledged :wink:
2019 — 26 Pair, 128 Eggs, 99 Babies and 97 Fledged. :wink:
2020 — 30 Pair, 156 Eggs, 137 Babies and 137 Fledged. :wink:
2021 — Waiting on March 2021

PMCA Member
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