Second Brood

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Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2016 7:22 pm
Location: HOUSTON, TX

I have been a landlord for 50 years, and this year I experienced a first: A pair raising a second brood. This is a ASY pair that fledged 4 on May 30, brought them back each evening for about a week. I noticed around the end of June that this female was spending time in the same room. Lowered the house and what do you know? 4 eggs. 2 hatched on July 3; only 1 is still alive however. Parents seem to barely care enough to keep them fed, and 1 just died yesterday.Hopefully the remaining 1 will make it to fledge in a few days.
Posts: 677
Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2017 11:39 am
Location: Monroe, WI

How fun is this? But sad that they aren't taking care of the 2nd batch. I hope the one makes it.
Billie from south central Wisconsin
Matt F.
Posts: 3900
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Sorry for what you're dealing with.
I have a few theories, as to why this happens.
1. The parenting hormone - prolactin (which is what dictates a bird's "parental investment" in a nesting cycle), starts to wane as the calendar gets closer to the latter part of summer. If this theory is valid, that would mean that Martins that engage in late season nesting, have an overall lower level of dedication to their nest, compared to Martins nesting earlier in the season. This does not mean they will not see it successfully all the way through to the babies fledging (as proven by the many late season nests that do great). It does mean though that they are less tolerant of any issues that may arise, and if any do arise, are more likely to call it off, and abandon the nest altogether.
2. A combination of #1, and the lack of any other Martins in the housing any longer. For communal nesters, having many other birds of the same species nesting around you, and in close proximity, probably contributes to feeling safer, and more comfortable, overall.
I'm sure being the last ones home, is a bit unnerving, and might be enough of an "issue" to cause these birds with an already diminishing level of prolactin, to clear out.
3. A combination of #1, #2, and the instinctual late season drive to switch into "premigratory mode", and join in with the other Martins that are already done nesting, and are meeting up nightly at the area roosts. I think this may be another "issue" that late season nesters may have to contend with, that along with dropping prolactin levels may cause them to raise the white flag on that nesting cycle.

Again, these are all just theories.
There are lots of things we may never completely understand.
It's heartbreaking and maddening to see parent Martins completely bail on healthy babies.
This type of abandonment is the one thing that has caused me to question as to whether or not I even want to continue being involved with Martins.
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2016 7:22 pm
Location: HOUSTON, TX

I tend to agree with your theories Matt. I was hoping that since this was a ASY pair, they would be a little more diligent about taking care of their young. SY pairs are notorious for being less than ideal parents, especially late nesting pairs, probably for some of the reasons you cited.
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