New Landlord

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Posts: 9
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 162 plastic gourds with tunnels, all with Conley II entrances with the Lewis modification. I have 24 Supergourds and the rest are Troyer Horizontals.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1935
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: 683
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: 534
Joined: Wed May 16, 2018 8:50 pm
Location: Boyce,Louisiana
Martin Colony History: 2018 1 lone nut and lots of visitors
2019 6 pair -21fledged
2020 18 pair -60 fledged be seen.
24 natural gourds on a satellite rack,9 other gourds scattered around
2-12 compartment trio houses
Rarely see a sparrow or starling,but when I do they don’t last long!
Will have a second satellite rack for the 2022 season and phase out the houses,the martins here strongly prefer natural gourds.

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: 3142
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.
2021 Currently 62 nest 138 babies plus 110 eggs (6-317-21) HOSP count-9
2020 42 nest, Fledged 164 HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional lone SY's
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 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair 14 fledged.
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