Cold weather behavior question

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Joe W
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:04 am
Location: FL/Lynn Haven (near Panama City, FL)
Martin Colony History: 2019 finally success! 8 pairs
Oct 10, 2018 Hurricane Michael
2018 visitors in April
2017 visitors in April
2016 visitors in April
2015 visitors in June
PMCA Member

Cold weather behavior question

Postby Joe W » Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:48 am

Hello to all!
I’ve got a good start on this year with two pairs and a single adult male that arrived just a week ago. The last few days have been busy with lots of activity but today started with a significant drop in temperatures and rain. The temps were in the 40’s with rain this morning. I noticed that two of the males were up early and had placed themselves partway in the entrances of two nesting cavities. Are they attempting to keep the nest cavity warmer? I didn’t think they could have gotten nest built this quickly but it’s possible. Do you think the females are nesting and laying eggs while the males are blocking the cold? Now that it’s mid morning and warmer (58 deg) they have moved up to the perches.

Just my second year of success and last year was almost a month later and much warmer. Thoughts? Thanks in advance to anyone that can share similar experiences or ideas.

Joe

4th Gen Martin Fan
Posts: 1406
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:19 pm
Location: TN/Collierville
Martin Colony History: I have been exposed to purple martin sounds in utero when my mother went out to get my father away from his martin colony.
I played around the martin colony every summer and watched as my father maintained his colony. In the late 50's until the 70's he did not notice European Starlings in south Texas.
When old enough, I helped maintain his colony. My primary task was eliminating English House Sparrows with a 1956 Benjamin 317 .177 air rifle.
When I settled into my own home, I started my first colony with an original Trio Castle and Trio Grandpa. When I moved again, I did not put up any martin houses. Frustration with European Starlings in the Southeast US was overwhelming.
Found PMCA Forum and learned about modern enlarged compartments and SREHs.
Inherited my father's last martin house, a Trio Grandma, modified it to modern specifications and have had good results since then.

Cold weather behavior

Postby 4th Gen Martin Fan » Sun Feb 16, 2020 11:37 am

Joe,
I would like to know what kind of housing you provide for your purple martins. Aluminum and plastic housing will not retain heat in the compartments compared to wood. Not saying that explains the behavior.
I would assume that the males are just hanging out until it warms up. Too darn cold (40s) and wet for anything of significance to be happening.
Even on a good day the males are usually up and out of the compartment before the females.
Can you raise and lower your housing to monitor nest building progress? You can determine a lot with how well established the nest is and whether there are green leaves in the nest bowl yet.
Even in Florida, it seems too early for egg laying.
Mark.
Firm believer in Enlarged Compartments, SREHs, HOSP/EUST Control, Pole Predator Guards, Owl/Hawk Guards, Mite/Parasite Control, Housing Insulation, and Vents for Compartment Cooling.
PMCA Member.

Joe W
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:04 am
Location: FL/Lynn Haven (near Panama City, FL)
Martin Colony History: 2019 finally success! 8 pairs
Oct 10, 2018 Hurricane Michael
2018 visitors in April
2017 visitors in April
2016 visitors in April
2015 visitors in June
PMCA Member

Re: Cold weather behavior

Postby Joe W » Sun Feb 16, 2020 11:48 am

[quote="4th Gen Martin Fan" post_id=288815 time=1581871063 user_id=5596]
Joe,
I would like to know what kind of housing you provide for your purple martins. Aluminum and plastic housing will not retain heat in the compartments compared to wood. Not saying that explains the behavior.
I would assume that the males are just hanging out until it warms up. Too darn cold (40s) and wet for anything of significance to be happening.
Even on a good day the males are usually up and out of the compartment before the females.
Can you raise and lower your housing to monitor nest building progress? You can determine a lot with how well established the nest is and whether there are green leaves in the nest bowl yet.
Even in Florida, it seems too early for egg laying.
[/quote]

One male is outside of my S & K plastic gourd housing with the entrance tunnels. The other is on a cavity on a S & K plastic house. When it warms a little I’ll lower both down and check. Another question, is it too late to pre-nest? The first arrivals got here before I could do the pre-nesting with pine straw like I did last year. I thought I had time but they beat me to it. Would that throw off or upset the residents I have now?
Thanks!

4th Gen Martin Fan
Posts: 1406
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:19 pm
Location: TN/Collierville
Martin Colony History: I have been exposed to purple martin sounds in utero when my mother went out to get my father away from his martin colony.
I played around the martin colony every summer and watched as my father maintained his colony. In the late 50's until the 70's he did not notice European Starlings in south Texas.
When old enough, I helped maintain his colony. My primary task was eliminating English House Sparrows with a 1956 Benjamin 317 .177 air rifle.
When I settled into my own home, I started my first colony with an original Trio Castle and Trio Grandpa. When I moved again, I did not put up any martin houses. Frustration with European Starlings in the Southeast US was overwhelming.
Found PMCA Forum and learned about modern enlarged compartments and SREHs.
Inherited my father's last martin house, a Trio Grandma, modified it to modern specifications and have had good results since then.

Re: Cold weather behavior

Postby 4th Gen Martin Fan » Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:29 pm

I add pine needles anytime I feel that the nest are inadequate throughout the season. Especially when the SY purple martins arrive and build only scant nests. The ASY pairs and especially the ASY females have more experience and build better nests.
Pre-nest whenever you can including now. I know that some landlords do not pre-nest at all but I believe it gives them a head start especially in cold weather of the early part of the season.

I do nest checks often enough that one ASY female with a nest that was like Fort Knox including mud and sticks fooled me. I did not have a flashlight and reached into the compartment to feel if any eggs were present. She pecked my finger and I pulled back my hand thinking that a snake was in there and had tried to bite me. I went to get a flashlight and she was faithfully incubating her eggs! She gave me the look that my wife gives me which means go away, I'm busy and leave me alone. I told her "Sorry!", "You are such a good Mama" and left her alone! In retrospect it was a moment I will never forget between a purple martin and I.
Mark.
Firm believer in Enlarged Compartments, SREHs, HOSP/EUST Control, Pole Predator Guards, Owl/Hawk Guards, Mite/Parasite Control, Housing Insulation, and Vents for Compartment Cooling.
PMCA Member.

Joe W
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:04 am
Location: FL/Lynn Haven (near Panama City, FL)
Martin Colony History: 2019 finally success! 8 pairs
Oct 10, 2018 Hurricane Michael
2018 visitors in April
2017 visitors in April
2016 visitors in April
2015 visitors in June
PMCA Member

Re: Cold weather behavior question

Postby Joe W » Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:09 pm

Rookie mistake by me! I guess they were just hanging halfway out keeping their tail feathers dry. I lowered the housing after the rain stopped, all were clean. I went ahead and pre-nested the cavities with straw. All is good now, both pair and the single male have returned. They seem to be extra noisy now. I guess they are either complaining about me fooling with their housing or singing my praises!
Thanks to everyone for the helpful comments.
Joe


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