Frustrating year

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
steve r
Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 8:16 am
Location: Antioch/Plant City Fla

I’m getting more and more frustrated every day. I’ve hosted PMs for many years, but this year nothing. I’ve had one or two show up but none staying. I haven’t changed anything same set up for the past 10 years. I’m back to playing the dawn song and it seems like I’m starting all over again. Grrrrr
Fuzzmeister
Posts: 178
Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:02 pm
Location: Saskatchewan Canada

Steve
Over the past 10 years that you have been a landlord, what dates do your martins usually return?
Dave Duit
Posts: 1756
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 www.iamartin.org and join.

Just curious as to the size of your colony in the past years. Sometimes, survival rate affects the colony's success or failure. Another possibility could be that there may have been a massive mite infestation, owl predation or bad continuous hawk attacks.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2936
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

It might help if you tell us about your colony last year. How many pair did you have,how many ASY/SY, how many fledged, did you have any other issues, like predator attacks or anything else? Assuming your colony had more the 6 pair or so it is pretty unlikely that they all did not survive the migration. So usually the only reason a colony of that size or bigger would not return is if there were issues last year. Some people blame tree encroachment, and maybe that happens but I have pictures of a couple colonies in my part of Indiana that have trees touching the housing. The colonies have been there for a long time and the martins don't mind the trees. Now if hawks start using them as a way to hide during an attack it could cause them to leave.
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.
steve r
Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 8:16 am
Location: Antioch/Plant City Fla

Last year had 24 pair not sure how many fledged. year before 32 pair again not sure how many fledged. First male spotted at my site this year 1-12-20
Most years they are early. In fact there have been years im the first to post. I havnt changed anything but there not coming back or staying when they do show up. Im not home all day as work still keeps me away from home.
steve r
Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 8:16 am
Location: Antioch/Plant City Fla

did have a Hawk attack a few last year but not enough to stop them. As for Owls not a problem I have been playing loud music for years to keep them away. Something myself and Steve K came up with.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Snake problems last year is my suspicion. Grey rat snakes will wipe a colony out
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
steve r
Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 8:16 am
Location: Antioch/Plant City Fla

Could be snakes. But I have 6”pipe going 4’ up from the ground with netting on top. At least my bat population is growing. Have hundreds and growing.
deancamp
Posts: 412
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

Your pipe should start 24" from the ground and be 24" long, that would make the top of it 4'. Is that what you're saying?
steve r
Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 8:16 am
Location: Antioch/Plant City Fla

No I have a 6” pvc pipe that starts at the ground and goes up 4’. There is a cap on top of the pipe with the gourd rack pipe going through it. Almost in possible for a snake to climb. I’m leaning towards the dRn hawk.
Davlyn
Posts: 624
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2004 8:55 pm
Location: Ga/Pavo

Do you think something may be getting them shortly after their return, just asking because this happened to me. Maybe a hawk, just a thought.
April McClelland


PMCA Member
steve r
Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 8:16 am
Location: Antioch/Plant City Fla

That’s my thoughts a Hawk. We have seen a sharp shin hawk hanging around. There are lots of red tailed hawks in our neighborhood plus a pair of bald eagles but I don’t worry about them
Davlyn
Posts: 624
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2004 8:55 pm
Location: Ga/Pavo

I bet that's your problem, hopefully he will move on soon!
April McClelland


PMCA Member
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2936
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

A decent sized rat snake could get up a 6 inch PVC guard that is only 4 foot tall. Is the PVC pipe split down the middle or is it a solid piece that was slid around the pole? Rat snakes can get up almost anything. Just curious was all of your colony still there at the end of the year and did it appear as if they left for the south? If it was a snake that was getting past your guard and sneaking in and eating martins from a nest at night, I don't think the other martins would necessarily realize this was going on and I am not sure they would abandon a colony. If there was big snake that went in over a few nights and ate your entire colony, I would think you would recognize something like that going on.
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.
steve r
Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 8:16 am
Location: Antioch/Plant City Fla

Part of my problem last year was. Gone on vacation to much England for 2 weeks in May then at the Beach Condo for the month of July. It could have been a Snake but I dont think so. Im leaning more to the hawk.
mwren
Posts: 108
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:43 pm
Location: OH/Athens
Martin Colony History: I have had my martin colony on the dam of one of my ponds for nine years. The colony has grown each year, but I am now concentrating on helping friends and acquaintances who have shown interests in martins. My colony consists of three T-14's with 8 Troyer gourds attatched to each T-14, a Troyer gourd rack with 12 gourds, and another gourd rack with 18 Troyer gourds for a total of 96 nest cavities. I am having serious predation issues with hawks and owls and am experimenting with various hawk guards and "screens". Established successful supplemental feeding last season during late march and had a blast flipping mostly meal worms and some crickets. Faculty from Ohio University are using my colony as a research site to study parasites that target cavity nesting birds. In exchange for access to my bird trail nest boxes and martin housing, they are banding all birds involved in their study.

This topic of "Frustrating year" is a great advertisement for the importance of routine nest checks. Most all of the questions raised here could be answered by nest checking.

Bird
Mike "Bird" Wren
steve r
Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 8:16 am
Location: Antioch/Plant City Fla

Mike,

This is veryy true, Last year i was so busy with being gone and working I never did nest checks. Maybe its finally time to retire. Im 66 and still loving work thou.
Mike Mack
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:56 pm
Location: Centex

Hi steve r. Flyin lowe is right about snakes going up and over a 4 foot 6inch pipe. Easy for the larger ones. Good luck and you will not miss work after you retire. I did nine monthes ago and love it.
steve r
Posts: 349
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 8:16 am
Location: Antioch/Plant City Fla

Im a salesman so most of my day is like a social event. Lunch and chatting with people. Plus Im making crazy money Business is booming in FLorida. 1000 people a day moving here.
KathyF
Posts: 3518
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 1:57 pm
Location: Missouri/Licking
Martin Colony History: Colony started - 2007 with one pair
As of 2018 - 84 cavities offered, max # of pairs hosted - 82.

Steve, how do you *know* you don't have an owl problem? Flashing lites may work ...until they don't. for a short period. I didn't know I had an owl problem, until I put up some game cameras.
The fact that your colony size is dwindling indicates there's a problem....somewhere. First step would be to put up a game camera for each system you have and check the cards each morning.
"Sometimes", said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
2016 - 82 pair
2015 - 76 pair
2014 - 75 pair
2013 - 75 pair
2012-72 pair
http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com
Post Reply