Do SY's return to their birth colony?

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BillieJR
Posts: 668
Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2017 11:39 am
Location: Monroe, WI

I know I've read many times that this year's fledgings usually don't return to the colony they were born at......but a friend of mine was talking the other night and said they do. So.......in your opinion, which way is it?
Billie from south central Wisconsin
Brad Biddle
Posts: 521
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Very, very, very few of them do. That not opinion, that’s based of banding studies
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Ed Svetich-WI
Posts: 761
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.

Billie,

In the past 6 years, I have had 14 martins banded as nestlings at my colony return to nest here as adults.That is about 5% of the total numbers banded. However, if estimates of high juvenile mortality are as high as even 50%, that percentage could essentially be a 10% return of surviving nestlings. Last year, an ASY female banded here in 2014, returned for her 4th year. She successfully raised her 4th clutch. She did not return this year.

I did have three ASY males return this year. They had not returned as SY birds. Where had they been last year? They paired with non banded ASY females and all were successful in raising young. Hopefully, a few of these will find you next year. Most banded birds are not identified. Additional reports would flesh out the data. I know of 5 colonies that have identified banded martins from here at their colonies. Most are within 25 miles but one was in Minnesota.

A remarkable testament to the stamina and tenacity of a bird weighing just a few ounces.

Ed
Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4339
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

A few years ago I had 157 of my martin nestlings banded. The next year I believe only around ten banded SY martins returned to my colony and my next door neighbor's site. One returned to a colony in Texas about 100 miles north of our colonies so SYs may move long distances from their natal birth colony. Some of these banded martins returned to our colonies the next year as ASY martins. One banded martin in my colony lived at least four years but didn't return for a fifth season.

The vast majority of SYs disperse from their natal colonies. This action minimizes inbreeding and helps "cast their genes" out into the system.

We fledged probably close to 2000 martins this season from our two large colonies and most of the ones that survive and return as SYs will most likely colonize new or other existing sites in 2020. Probably only a small percentage will return to our colonies to breed.
PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season
Ed Svetich-WI
Posts: 761
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 just checked my records specifically for SY returns. We banded 77 nestlings in 2014. The next year, 5 banded SY birds returned ( 2 female and 3 males.). That is a 6% return of SY from that hatch year. Incidentally, red banded male #05 returned as an SY and returned in 2016, 2017 and 2018. SY female. #02 returned in 2015, and as an ASY in 2016, 2017 and 2018. They were siblings out of a nest of 5 young but always paired wih unrelated martins. Neither returned this year.

We had to get authorization for red auxiliary bands in addition to the federal bands..The red bands are much easier to read and then I can cross reference the aluminum federal band numbers.

Ed
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2860
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

As everyone else said the banding studies show that the vast majority of them do not end up back at the site they fledged from. I am sure someone can find a link to the actual documentation put out by the PMCA. I read it in the Update magazine years ago....
2020 47 of 52 cavities with nest (5/29)(HOSP Count 7)
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair last count 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional SY's stayed all summer but never paired/nested.
2016 1 pair fledged 4
2015 Visitors
2014 Visitors
2013 Moved 6 miles away, 1 pair fledged 2.
2012 30 pair fledged 100.
2011 12 pair (11 that nested), 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair, 21 eggs, 16 hatched, 14 fledged.
RAMSMARTINS
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2016 7:22 pm
Location: HOUSTON, TX

I have experienced a 5-10% return of my banded nestlings since 2005.
Dave Reynolds
Posts: 1853
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".

BillieJR wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:23 am
I know I've read many times that this year's fledgings usually don't return to the colony they were born at......but a friend of mine was talking the other night and said they do. So.......in your opinion, which way is it?
.
.
BillieJR... I don't think a great percentage of this years Fledgings come back to the colony they were born in.. Mainly, because if they did, there would be to much in-breeding. And that would be costly to the species.. just my opinion..

Dave
Home Site “Little Hocking, Ohio”
2010 / 2018 -- Lots of Visitors
2019 — First pair, 5 Eggs, 5 hatched, 5 fledged. :wink:
2020 — They Showed up on March 28 for another year... :wink:

Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”
2018 -- 15 Pair, 58 Eggs, 38 Hatched and 36 Fledged :wink:
2019 — 26 Pair, 128 Eggs, 99 Hatched and 97 Fledged. :wink:
2020 — They showed up on April 24 for another year... :wink:

PMCA Member
randyM
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:30 pm
Location: Long Lake SD
Martin Colony History: Had 2 wooden and 1 plastic house up since 2004. Added plastic gourds to housing in June of 2015, had SY male stay for 3 weeks. Had lots of late visitors during late fall migration while playing martin chatter CD. Added more decoys and multiple styles of plastic gourds to my spread in 2016...it worked - 1 pair (ASYM + SYF) fledged both young that hatched!! S & S control done studiously every year.

2017 - 4 nesting pairs, 16/17 eggs hatched and all 16 young banded and fledged. Also had 5 extra SY males and 1 SY female stay during the nesting season.

2018 - 10 nesting pairs (7 ASYM, 3 SYM & 3 ASYF, 7 SYF), 52 eggs, 46 hatched, 45 fledged, 29 banded. Two banded males from 2017 hatch returned home. One successfully nested, the other stayed a few weeks and left.

2019 - 32 nests, 160 eggs - 25 ASYM & 7 SYM. The two males banded in 2017 again returned home now in ASY plumage, and two SY females and one SY male banded in 2018 returned in 2019. 87 HY banded in 2019.

Ed...you indicated that two banded nestmates returned to your colony the year after banding. Last year I had two banded male nestmates (#975 & #977) from my colony return as SY birds (#977 found a mate and successfully nested and #975 stayed a few weeks then left). Both birds came back as ASYM in 2019 and successfully nested. This nesting season I had 2 female nestmates banded in 2018 from the brood of ASYM #977 return and successful nest. I've had 5 banded birds return from a total of 45 nestlings banded at my colony the past two seasons, 4 of which are directly related. Do you or anyone else know if any studies have been done on banded martins to indicate a higher likelihood exists that a SY bird will return to its natal colony if one of its parents also returned to its natal colony and successfully reproduced? This year I had 87 of 140 young banded, and banded 6 and 7 young from broods of #975 and 977, respectively. It will be interesting to see if any of these 13 banded young return to my colony next season. Unfortunately the nestlings for the two returning SY banded females were too young to band when we banded birds at my colony. So I'll have to wait until next year to hopefully band young from one or both of these females if they survive until next year to see if there is some kind of link (genetic?) between related birds and the likelihood of them returning to their natal colony.
gotham
Posts: 61
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:36 am
Location: Wellington, On, Canada (our summer place)
Martin Colony History: Wife's family martin house shore Lake Ontario since 1967. New martin house 2019 (Lonestar Alamo aluminum 14 compartment with perching rods and nest trays).

It seems clear from all of the above that only a relatively small (6% or 5-10%) of nestlings that fledge from a colony return the following season to the same site as SY martins.

On this forum I have often seen colony histories similar to this one:

2016-1 pair, fledged 4
2017-3 SY pair, fledged 10
2018-15 pair, fledged 49
2019-31 complete nests

A return rate of 5-10% would not account for this degree of progressive increase in colony size and some other mechanism must then account for it. Is it that a martin house or gourd system that has been inhabited the previous year attracts significantly more of the martins returning to that general area the following year and that, within limits, the more martins at that site in one year, the greater the attraction to that colony the next year? Is there some other explanation for a colony growth like that above despite a SY return rate of only 5-10%?

Gotham
Ed Svetich-WI
Posts: 761
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.

Gotham,

The best attractant is live martins. I played both Dawn Song and Chatter for YEARS at this site without success! Early in the establishment of a colony, when it seems that we may be more cognizant of everything that is occurring, a lone male martin will leave the colony and return with a female. In many cases, he repeats this activity until he is successful In finding one who accepts what we have offered. Observe as these females inspect many cavities and finding one that suits them, pair up.Unsuccessful, the male often leaves, not to return.

At times, he leaves alone and returns with a number of martins.There are more martins out there than we imagine. Watch as a male suddenly begins loud vocalizations while intently looking into the sky. We see nothing and yet shortly, a bird streaks out of nowhere and lands on the housing. All we can do is provide appropriate housing in a good location. After that, nature takes over and the journey begins with our assistance.

Good luck to all with future colonies.

Ed
Brad Biddle
Posts: 521
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Threads like this sorta shoot holes in people’s ideas that large colonies “hog” Martins. Any Martin colony, regardless of its size, helps disperse Martins. Large colonies may suck up a lot of unbounded ASY Martins but they sure put out lots of HY’s to disperse to colonies the following year.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Dave Reynolds
Posts: 1853
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".

Brad Biddle wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:44 am
Threads like this sorta shoot holes in people’s ideas that large colonies “hog” Martins. Any Martin colony, regardless of its size, helps disperse Martins. Large colonies may suck up a lot of unbounded ASY Martins but they sure put out lots of HY’s to disperse to colonies the following year.
..
.
... Brad Biddle... That’s an interesting thought... If only 5 to 10 percent of this year’s fledgling come back to where they were born, then how do these huge colonies survive.. (They must put up a sign that says Adults Only),, 2000 Martin Pair every year in one colony is amazing....

Dave
Home Site “Little Hocking, Ohio”
2010 / 2018 -- Lots of Visitors
2019 — First pair, 5 Eggs, 5 hatched, 5 fledged. :wink:
2020 — They Showed up on March 28 for another year... :wink:

Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”
2018 -- 15 Pair, 58 Eggs, 38 Hatched and 36 Fledged :wink:
2019 — 26 Pair, 128 Eggs, 99 Hatched and 97 Fledged. :wink:
2020 — They showed up on April 24 for another year... :wink:

PMCA Member
sugarcreek
Posts: 210
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2016 10:43 am
Location: Sugarcreek, Ohio
Martin Colony History: 2016 First Yr.

Makes you wonder if they don't return or is the morality rate that high that only a few return because they don't make it.
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 ?
randyM
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:30 pm
Location: Long Lake SD
Martin Colony History: Had 2 wooden and 1 plastic house up since 2004. Added plastic gourds to housing in June of 2015, had SY male stay for 3 weeks. Had lots of late visitors during late fall migration while playing martin chatter CD. Added more decoys and multiple styles of plastic gourds to my spread in 2016...it worked - 1 pair (ASYM + SYF) fledged both young that hatched!! S & S control done studiously every year.

2017 - 4 nesting pairs, 16/17 eggs hatched and all 16 young banded and fledged. Also had 5 extra SY males and 1 SY female stay during the nesting season.

2018 - 10 nesting pairs (7 ASYM, 3 SYM & 3 ASYF, 7 SYF), 52 eggs, 46 hatched, 45 fledged, 29 banded. Two banded males from 2017 hatch returned home. One successfully nested, the other stayed a few weeks and left.

2019 - 32 nests, 160 eggs - 25 ASYM & 7 SYM. The two males banded in 2017 again returned home now in ASY plumage, and two SY females and one SY male banded in 2018 returned in 2019. 87 HY banded in 2019.

I have crunched a few numbers in some hypothetical examples to hopefully help some folks better understand the complexity and dynamics of the composition of members in a martin colony. Hopefully this is not too confusing, as I tend to get kind of wordy in my examples :grin:

If you consider a hypothetical colony of 50 breeding pairs that fledge an average of 4 young per nest, that is 200 total young that fledge in a given year. If mortality is typically 50% in the first year of life for newly fledged martins, about 100 of these youngsters will survive to return to the breeding grounds as SY birds the next season. If young birds that fledged the previous year return to their natal colony at an average rate of 7.5% that means about 15 of these 100 survivors will join their natal colony and 85 will join an existing colony or begin a new one. If mortality in breeding age martins (adults = SY & ASY) is typically about 30%, then 30 of the 100 breeding birds (50 pairs x 2 = 100) in the colony need to be replaced to keep the colony's breeding population stable. Even after those 30 adults are replaced there is still a net gain of 55 SY martins available to colonize other sites. However, if this hypothetical colony would grow the next year by, let's say, 30 pairs (60 individuals) for a total of 80 pairs, this colony would be "hogging" 5 more birds than it contributed to the overall breeding population and thus would be somewhat depleting the supply of martins that could be available to join other existing colonies. A leap from 50 to 80 pairs in one year is a 60% increase and such a large colony is not likely to expand at such a high rate indefinitely, so the likely result of such a large hypothetical colony would be a net gain in martins to colonize other areas in most average years.

However, if the average number of young fledged per nest in this hypothetical 50 pair colony is reduced by half (to 2 young), this would result in a net gain of only about 12 returning birds that would be available to colonize sites other than the natal colony if the number of breeding pairs did not change the following year (i.e., 100 fledged: 50 migrate north to breed, ~8 of these young return to natal colony and 30 adults need to be replaced) . Conversely, if the average number of young fledged per nest was increased to 5 young, that would result in a net gain of about 76 returning birds that would be available to colonize sites other than the natal colony if the number of breeding pairs did not change the following year (i.e., 250 fledged: 125 migrate north to breed, ~19 of these young return to natal colony, and 30 adults need to be replaced).
Brad Biddle
Posts: 521
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Dave Reynolds wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:20 pm
Brad Biddle wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:44 am
Threads like this sorta shoot holes in people’s ideas that large colonies “hog” Martins. Any Martin colony, regardless of its size, helps disperse Martins. Large colonies may suck up a lot of unbounded ASY Martins but they sure put out lots of HY’s to disperse to colonies the following year.
..
.
... Brad Biddle... That’s an interesting thought... If only 5 to 10 percent of this year’s fledgling come back to where they were born, then how do these huge colonies survive.. (They must put up a sign that says Adults Only),, 2000 Martin Pair every year in one colony is amazing....

Dave
I have no way to prove this but my suspicion is that there are quite a few adult Martins searching for a new home each year. As I built my colony, lots of the expansion was due to ASY birds.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Dave Reynolds
Posts: 1853
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".

Brad Biddle wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:25 pm
Dave Reynolds wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:20 pm
Brad Biddle wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:44 am
Threads like this sorta shoot holes in people’s ideas that large colonies “hog” Martins. Any Martin colony, regardless of its size, helps disperse Martins. Large colonies may suck up a lot of unbounded ASY Martins but they sure put out lots of HY’s to disperse to colonies the following year.
..
.
... Brad Biddle... That’s an interesting thought... If only 5 to 10 percent of this year’s fledgling come back to where they were born, then how do these huge colonies survive.. (They must put up a sign that says Adults Only),, 2000 Martin Pair every year in one colony is amazing....

Dave
I have no way to prove this but my suspicion is that there are quite a few adult Martins searching for a new home each year. As I built my colony, lots of the expansion was due to ASY birds.
..
.

...Brad Biddle.. You may have something there.. I expanded my colony from 16 rooms (2018) to 32 rooms (2019). And the colony almost doubled in size... from 15 pair to 26 pair.. A lot were ASY adult males and females..

Dave
Home Site “Little Hocking, Ohio”
2010 / 2018 -- Lots of Visitors
2019 — First pair, 5 Eggs, 5 hatched, 5 fledged. :wink:
2020 — They Showed up on March 28 for another year... :wink:

Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”
2018 -- 15 Pair, 58 Eggs, 38 Hatched and 36 Fledged :wink:
2019 — 26 Pair, 128 Eggs, 99 Hatched and 97 Fledged. :wink:
2020 — They showed up on April 24 for another year... :wink:

PMCA Member
Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4339
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

What I have noticed in our large martin colonies is that there are SY males that do NOT actually breed but just "hang around" or "visit" our colonies, particularly during May and June. Many are just plain pests to the current tenants! They have been called "floaters". I saw a good number this season in my colony. So if these SY males survive their next migration, they will return the next year as ASY males. Perhaps some of these ASY males and females that colonize new sites or increase the numbers at existing colonies were non-breeding SYs the previous year. In areas with an abundant martin population, like where I live, there may be a sizable number of non-breeding SY males and females that return the following year as ASYs.

And there will be ASYs that lose their current nest sites to competitors, experience predator attacks or their housing has deteriorated or blows down in storms or has been tree encroached and these ASYs will look for new territory. So ASYs will colonize new sites just like SYs.

In my current colony, I usually have about 75% ASYs and 25% SYs. Of course, this does change and sometimes I may have fewer or more SYs. Though I suspect that only a small percentage of SYs in my current colony were raised here, probably many of the SY pairs come from existing colonies within 50 miles or less of my site.
PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season
barbiejoe
Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:16 am
Location: Branson MO

How do you catch an adult banded bird to see where it came from and how old it is? barbiejoe
After 3 years, I gave up and put two gourds out, hoping to get other birds to nest. I did. Had one pair of tree swallows and ONE pair of purple martins. The PM had 4 hatchlings. One died in the nest and one was found on the ground two days running and died that night. Two flew successfully.
randyM
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:30 pm
Location: Long Lake SD
Martin Colony History: Had 2 wooden and 1 plastic house up since 2004. Added plastic gourds to housing in June of 2015, had SY male stay for 3 weeks. Had lots of late visitors during late fall migration while playing martin chatter CD. Added more decoys and multiple styles of plastic gourds to my spread in 2016...it worked - 1 pair (ASYM + SYF) fledged both young that hatched!! S & S control done studiously every year.

2017 - 4 nesting pairs, 16/17 eggs hatched and all 16 young banded and fledged. Also had 5 extra SY males and 1 SY female stay during the nesting season.

2018 - 10 nesting pairs (7 ASYM, 3 SYM & 3 ASYF, 7 SYF), 52 eggs, 46 hatched, 45 fledged, 29 banded. Two banded males from 2017 hatch returned home. One successfully nested, the other stayed a few weeks and left.

2019 - 32 nests, 160 eggs - 25 ASYM & 7 SYM. The two males banded in 2017 again returned home now in ASY plumage, and two SY females and one SY male banded in 2018 returned in 2019. 87 HY banded in 2019.

Barbiejoe - Most martins that are banded have 2 bands (one on each leg). One band is a standard US Fish and Wildlife silver colored aluminum band that has a 8 or 9 digit number stamped into the band. The other band is also aluminum, but is painted a different color (red, yellow, green, blue, etc.). These bands typically have 3 to 6 numbers and/or letters that are a contrasting color to the background of the colored band (e.g., white numbers on red band, black letters on yellow band). The code for these colored bands can be easily read with a spotting scope while a banded bird is perched on a wire, tree, or rod. After you read the code, you can report it to the Bird Banding Lab website, and they will send you a report back telling you where the bird was banded, the date is was banded, the age of the bird (if known), and maybe even who banded the bird. Both band numbers are on record at the Bird Banding Lab, but the silver band is typically never reported unless a banded dead martin is found, or a banded female remains on her nest during nest checks and the landlord is lucky enough to notice it and read it. Most martins are banded in the nest when they are at least 2 weeks old. Thus, the age is always known for birds banded as fledglings, but typically not if they are first banded as adults. I've seen a few migrating martins that have stopped at my colony that only have a single silver band with 8-9 numbers. Perhaps these birds are part of a study where they trap adult martins in their nesting compartments each year at the same colony and read the band numbers with a bird in hand?? The numbers on these silver bands can be read with a powerful spotting scope, but it can take a very long time to read all 8-9 numbers on the band, as you can only see a few numbers on a side of the band until the bird turns or the band moves so you can read more of the numbers. I have never read a complete code on a silver band before, but know a few folks that have.

Just a reminder, banding wild birds can only legally be done by a trained and licensed bird bander, typically through a University or State/Federal wildlife agency. I encourage all martin landlords to scan their colonies and be on the look out for such banded martins. The data collected from birds seen away from the colony they were banded is typically more interesting and scientifically more useful in managing this wonderful species.
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