New Landlord

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Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:17 pm
Location: San Angelo, Tx
Martin Colony History: 2020: 3 Pairs


I am new to purple martins but decided to become a landlord approximately 2 weeks ago. I installed a Troyer Horizontal 6 gourd rack in my backyard and currently have one ASY pair staying every night. In addition to this pair, we have one other martin that spends the night in a different gourd than the ASY pair. It is hard for me to identify if it is a SY male or if it is a lone female. Our location makes for a perfect site with a river within 1/4 of a mile, wide open fly ways, and our neighbors have a small colony themselves. We are hoping that more martins move in this year but will be happy to start with just one pair. Attached is a picture of our setup.

A couple questions for you experienced landlords:
1. Why is there a lone bird staying the night? Shouldn't it have a mate?
2. When does nest building commence in Texas?
3. How much longer do SY birds keep arriving?
2020: 3 Pairs
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

The lone bird is almost certainly an SY male. An ASY female would not have any issues in finding a mate. He's alone because he hasn't convinced a female to pair with him. He almost certainly won't get an ASY female to pair with him, so he's gonna have to wait on an SY female to show up. Then he's gonna have to win her over with ASY bachelor males still in your area. Tough row to hoe for him. His best odds will be when all or most of the ASY males in your area have paired up.

Can't help you with the last 2 questions.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1815
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.

Hi Ryan,
Congrats on getting your first martin. SY are usually the martins that will start your new colony. I encourage you to read everything you can on martins and how to be a great responsible landlord. Thank you for picking up the hobby of martins.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
Posts: 677
Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2017 11:39 am
Location: Monroe, WI

Welcome, Ryan! It's nice to have you here with us. I'm sure you'll get lots of good advice from seasoned landlords. You are very lucky to have just put up your housing 2 weeks ago and already have guests. I hope you have a good first season. :)
Billie from south central Wisconsin
Rodger Drye
Posts: 671
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:07 am
Location: NC/Mt. Pleasant
Martin Colony History: Have been hosting and providing a sanactuary for Purple Martins for 30 years.

Hi Ryan,

Actually what everyone else said is right on. I have several single bird’s that have not paired as of yet. So that is pretty much normal.
I don’t know when Martin ‘s start building nests’ in Texas. Here in North Carolina they usually start building sometime in April, as I usually start my Nest Check’s onset the first of May.
My SY Bird’s have not started to arrive yet. However, when they do, they keep straggling in most of the summer.

You are certainly lucky to already have Martin’s because a lot of folks go for years and never even see a bird. Truly you must have a very good location for your Colony, with a lot of flying insects and a good source of water. Just be sure to practice a through regiment of “Predator Control” cause that is one major thing that can destroy even the Best of Colonies.

Again, read everything you can to educate yourself on these Bird’s. Sometimes even the smallest thing can make a big big difference.

Good Luck and keep asking questions on this Forum. I’m sure someone on here will be glad to answer you.

PMCA Member
Have been Hosting and Protecting Martin's for 30 years.
Posts: 440
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.

Hi Ryan,on your question of how much longer will the SY’s be arriving..... I don’t live in Texas but I looked at the scout report for 2020 and for 2019. Thus far there are a few SY’s already ,and I looked back at 2019’s report and it looks like the main time for the bulk of the SY’s is all the month of April ,so your in luck and could very well see several SY’s show up! Be prepared and keep watch and I think you will see some new arrivals in the up coming weeks ahead,particularly during multiple days of good south winds. Good luck to ya.
Posts: 2964
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

There are a couple things I have found to help ID the SY male versus female martins. One is they males will almost always have some random dark spots on their breast. Some have a bunch and others just have a couple but if you see a few spots that look like a black ink stain it will be an SY male. Once you spend some time listening to them the eaiser way to tell is their vocalization. Next time you are out there listen and you will noticed that the males will often time end their chatter with a series of clicks. If you hear them clicking at the end you will know it's a male. When my first colony got started I had a lone SY male spend the entire season in a cavity and never attracted a mate. He returned the next year as an ASY and had not problems that year. At this colony I have now I had a couple pair one year and have several lone SY's that stayed all year and just never paired up for some reason. Either way that means they like your location and in my opinion they are likely to come back next year.
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.
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