Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
Posts: 412
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

I have heard a lot of times that a new colony will be started by a SY male. I know mine was started by an ASY male and have heard of others as well. Just wondering as a little survey, which one started your colony?
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2004 8:15 pm
Location: Carriere(Hide-A-Way Lake), Mississippi

PMCA Member
Posts: 598
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:15 pm
Location: Plano, Texas
Martin Colony History: 2016 - late to put up, many visitors
2017 - 1 pair, 3 fledged
2018- 2 pair, 12 fledged
2019 - 4 pair, 21 fledged
2020 - 15 pair, 67 fledged



After reading below posts on SY males, I began to recall my first year without a breeding pair. Idid have several Martins show up every day in April and June but none ever spent the night. I'm recalling now the most repetitive visitor was an SY male. Maybe he came back as an ASY but, like I said, he never stayed the night so I couldn't pin him down to a single gourd to confirm his return.
Last edited by Whippy on Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Posts: 494
Joined: Thu May 26, 2016 9:23 am
Location: tennesse
Martin Colony History: Started colony in 2014. First pair to stay and raise young in 2018.

Posts: 802
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- didnt know anything about martins, put up an all wrong house in 2016 and had two come by and inspect all the cavities. Left soon after not to return. Learned what i could on PMCA, good direction from John Barrow and Louise Chambers, made adjustments and next year was sucessful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
Home colony: mix natural gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satelite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 gourds: PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mino castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
PMCA member

Home colony:
2016- Visitor's
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged

Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve
2019: Visitor's
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged

PMCA member, believer in nest checks, SREH and predator protection.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1737
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit and join.

Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
James Strickland FL
Posts: 2249
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2003 8:04 pm
Location: Reidsville NC
Martin Colony History: 2017 Had a lot visitors no Matins nesting, hoping 2018 will be different.
2018 Had 1 pair
2019 had 30 pair

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

Posts: 412
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

Wow, :shock: this a very small sample size but it's a landslide. I did think the ASY crowd would be close to the same number as the SY group. I know there is a lot more people out there that has input, so keep them coming.
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue Jul 19, 2016 1:24 pm
Location: St Johns, MI
Martin Colony History: 2015 A few Visitors
2016 1 ASY pair 4 eggs 4 Fledged
2017 ASY male returned chased off by starlings
2018 1 pair fledged 5
2019 3 Pair with nestlings and an ASY male bachelor and 2 SY males around all the time fledged 16

Posts: 101
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:30 pm
Location: Long Lake SD
Martin Colony History: 2006 - SY pair, unsuccessful nest attempt, 3 houses = 52 cavities

2010 - ASYM + SYF pair - male disappeared after storm, female fledged all 4 young.

2015 - Lone SYM stayed month of June...added 8 gourds = 60 cavities

2016 - 1 nesting pair (ASYM + SYF) 2/3 eggs hatched 2 young fledged.

2017 - 4 nesting pairs, 16/17 eggs hatched, 16 fledged, 16 banded - 2 banded SY returned in 2018 (12.5%), added housing: 11 houses w/gourds, 4 gourd poles = 376 cavities

2018 - 10 nesting pairs, 46/52 eggs hatched, 45 fledged, 29 banded - 3 banded SY returned in 2019 (10.3%)

2019 - 32 nesting pairs, 145/160 eggs hatched, 139 fledged - 87 banded - 12 banded SY returned in 2020 (13.8%).

2020 - 35 nesting pairs, 180/199 eggs hatched, 178 fledged - 150 banded.

My colony too was "started" by an ASY (if by "started" you mean first nesting attempt with eggs). I believe my colony was actually started by a SY male the year prior to my first nesting pair. I had a SY male stay at my housing for the month of June, but he was unable to attract a female that would stay to nest with him. The next May a male in ASY plumage came to my site and chose the same compartment the SY male had stayed in the previous June. I feel confident it was the same male from the previous year, as I offer over 300 nesting compartments on 14 different housing systems and he came back to the same compartment.

I think this is probably the case more times than not that a visiting SY male from the previous year returns to a site the next year in ASY plumage to start a new nesting colony.

It would be interesting to find out the ratio of current landlords that had a ASY male start their nesting colony the first year they had their housing up vs. a SY male. That is likely the only situation one could easily tell if a nesting colony was truly started by a wondering ASY male or a wondering SY male with no influence from a previous year's attraction to the site.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

I'm with randym. I'm certain that my colony was started by an ASY who returned from being the SY that hung out here the year before. The reason of my certainty is that before finding the PMCA I put up a small gourd rack down at our pond. It only held 6 gourds and they were small gourds. That rack was also 300 yards or more from the house. After reading on this forum and learning more about Martins, I put a gourd rack up behind the house at the barn. I left the small gourd rack at the pond, but took the gourds off it. That next year, an ASY male came here and stayed. It wasn't long until he attracted a mate. That male would fly from the gourd rack at the barn, to the empty gourd rack at the pond, trying to get the female to follow him.

Incidentally, I'm relatively sure that would have had a nesting pair of SY's that first year down at the pond. The day the SY male arrived that I think started my colony, he arrived with a pair of SY birds. The male of that pair entered a gourd, and a male HOSP followed him inside. They fought in the gourd, then came out fighting and fell to the ground. When the fight broke up, the pair of SY birds flew off, never to return. That lone SY male that was with them kept coming back and did so for a month or more. That's the day I knew I had to do something about the "dozen" or so sparrows that I had hanging around. A few months later, I had trapped 300 of them.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:02 pm
Location: Nashville, Arkansas

I was too stupid to know. Surely there are others as stupid as I was. I just remember it was like a whirlwind of maybe 8 pair.
Posts: 412
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

Yes, I am considering " starting " your coliny as having a mate and successfully raisy young. The reason I wonder is I have often heard advice given to someone starting a colony to not worry about trying to attract them until the SY's arrive. I have always wondered as to why not at least try when any Martin is arriving to the area. You never know.
Bird Brain
Posts: 150
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:22 am
Location: Highland Village, TX
Martin Colony History: 2017-nothing
2018-1 visitor
2020-the most visitors/activity by far after making many site improvements. Unsuccessful SY Male visited for 2 weeks.

I agree that attracting ASY should be as much of a goal as attracting SY. There is also another advantage. Leaving your housing open early for ASY also gives you more HOSP shooting and trapping opportunities. I just don't see a compelling argument for plugging entrances unless you don't want to eliminate HOSP, or are very bad at it.
Every time I kill a house sparrow, I make the world a better place.
Posts: 411
Joined: Wed May 16, 2018 8:50 pm
Location: Boyce,Louisiana
Martin Colony History: Second year trying to attract martins. This year I am getting rid of the wooden house and showing something they are used to seeing.
Offering 2 trio grandpaws w/2natural gourds under each and C.Abare gourd rack w/16 natural gourds. And one rehabbed 16 compartment Coates original with two natural gourds.Lots of lookers,a few overnighters and daily activity cruising and looking. All gourds have a rain canopy and wire perch.2019 7 pair moving into 2020 almost double pairs from 2019. Still have most of the month of March to go for new arrivals and April.Here late in season seemed to have as many as 18 Pr of nesting birds. Huge upscale in birds from 2019. Will also have a 20 gourd satellite rack prepared for the 2021 season.

The first year I had any degree of success was one lone bird named the “nut”, as he spent his days with the neighbors birds and at black dark would rush down here and dive in a gourd.....ASY mature. The second year he returned and went in the same gourd as well as a bird named hot rod also ASY mature,he was small and flew like the wind! Then a mix of SY and ASY followed to make 7 pr.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

I forgot to put this in the first post I made. Before I moved back to the farm, I did start a colony at the house we lived at in town. It was started, first year by an ASY male and SY female. So that’s 2 for me started by ASY’s.

Deancamp, every local person that I’ve helped start a colony has been “instructed” to have their gourd racks up and open by no later than March 1. Our earliest arrivals average mid February but we’ll only have a handful of birds here by March 1. I think that the recommendation to try and attract SY’s was wrong to begin with and surely needs to be changed.

I really think that the locals that I’ve helped have all started with at least a few ASY pairs. Some of them I’ve never heard from again but I know of at least 2 that were started their first year after talking with me by ASY’s. The most common problem with people who have failed to attract Martins is not having their gourd racks in the right spot. Both wanted them in their back yard so they could sit on their porch and watch the Martins. My standard line is, “you can’t watch them from your back porch If you don’t have them.” Both of them moved gourd racks to their front yard and got Martins the first year after doing that. As has been stated millions of times. Open flyways trump everything
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:02 pm
Location: Nashville, Arkansas

In retrospect and in view of all the ASY responses, I am sure my start those years ago was mainly with ASY, but maybe there was an SY in the bunch because I did experience fledges that occurred later in the nesting period that year. This points toward at least the female being SY.

Another sort of interesting thing occurred during this period, a couple years later at my Mom's house which was about 1/2 mile away from my burgeoning colony, I erected a 16-gourd rack. In the two years following, she had only SY pairs, a single pair each year, and after she went to a retirement home, I took it down, because I concluded that as long as I had unclaimed cavities at my house hers was never going to be utilized.

This could be interpreted...possibly....just possibly...that if you are only luring in SY's and are having trouble getting a start, you just may be too close to a successful, active nearby colony.
Posts: 2932
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Mine was kind of both.....I had an SY male stay at my colony by himself for a season. The next year he returned and drew in a crowd and started my colony.

That was at my old house. This current location was started by SY's.
2020 Currently 42 nest, 110 babies, 64 eggs left to hatch(6-22-20) HOSP count-8
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.
Posts: 757
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:09 pm
Location: Manitoba/Altona
Martin Colony History: six pair in 2014, have grown to 52 pairs in 2017.

2011- first year trying, a few visitors.
2012-One ASY pair, raised two young, lots of subby visitors. So thankfull.
2013-daily subby visits.
2014-Six SY pairs
2015-18 pair, 83 fledglings
2016-36 pair, 147 fledglings
2017-52 pairs, 192 fledglings.
2018-60 pair, 246 fledglings.
2019-59 pair, 238 fledglings.
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