Southern landlords, check your nests ASAP!

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Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Apparently we had Martin killing weather in the deep south and I didn't know it.

The high Friday was 57 degrees, the low Saturday morning was 37. The high yesterday was 64 and the low this morning was 41. I did a nest check today, to add Sevin to my gourds. I enlisted my daughter and son to help me, to speed up the process. My daughter was to be the number recorder. I didn’t find any mites. What I did find was disastrous and the number recorded was 67. SIXTY SEVEN dead nestlings. The little “pinkies” a day or two old were okay. The older ones were dead. Clutch after clutch of dead nestlings. A few gourds had one or two out of five or six alive, the rest was the whole clutch. I would never have thought this would have happened with the temps no colder than they were. All I can surmise is that the older nestlings couldn’t be covered by the female and died of low body temperature. I know that baby chickens can’t generate their own body heat for the first couple of weeks but I don’t know what age that is for Martins. One rack of 24 gourds, lost 13 out of 18 nests. The unhatched eggs may be lost too. It appears that all the dead nestlings died yesterday. None were decomposed. Only one nest had any smell to it and it had the largest nestlings in it. Any of you northern landlords who may have experienced this before know if they’ll renest? I intend to do another check next Saturday or Sunday afternoon to check and see if they are.

WARNING MY REPLY TO THIS POST CONTAINS A GRAPHIC PHOTO
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

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Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Archer
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.

Oh man, that's awefull. Sorry that happened to them. In Canada we are still waiting for more birds. None of mine have started nest building yet. I have had a few re nest attempts, most are not very successful.
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.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Thanks. Were your renesting failures due to time constraints? If so, then if mine attempt to renest, I see no reason they won't be successful. Most of the nests don't even contain eggs yet. It's just the earliest arrivals that were well ahead of the others.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Jones4381
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:54 pm
Location: Rocky Mount VA
Martin Colony History: Newbie 51 years old and stumbled onto this by accident. Amazing bird. Just wanna help and give/receive happiness and be one with nature. Don't mind shooting an intruder of any kind though. Have a blessed day.

Sad. As someone new with no Martins in my 3 houses I'm kinda glad. Weather has been terrible here. April and May has been pretty much early March weather for the last 7 weeks. I wonder if the SY martins may still show up here in VA where I live. Weather suppose to finally break TH with temps back to normal 75-80/55-60 at nights. Been a very unusual Spring (if you wanna call it that here in the foothills of the Appalachians). Well hoping to get a pair or two before its over for my first year trying. 12 rack B09/B11 gourds and 2 SK houses for 8 and 6 still open/vacant. Best wishes and hoping for the best for so many having a tough Spring.
:-(
51 year old HY beginner. Year 1 for me!
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Yes, you still have time to get nesting Martins in VA. Just make sure you have enough open space and make sure your housing is in the best location for the housing, which may not necessarily the best place for you to view them from your house.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Jones4381
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:54 pm
Location: Rocky Mount VA
Martin Colony History: Newbie 51 years old and stumbled onto this by accident. Amazing bird. Just wanna help and give/receive happiness and be one with nature. Don't mind shooting an intruder of any kind though. Have a blessed day.

Brad Biddle wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 6:36 am
Yes, you still have time to get nesting Martins in VA. Just make sure you have enough open space and make sure your housing is in the best location for the housing, which may not necessarily the best place for you to view them from your house.

Thank you. After reading a lot in here I realize my first SK12 was to close to some apple trees. 30 ft and one tree is about 30 feet tall. 2nd SK barn is 50 ft from tree and about 40 feet from my house. 3rd pole with gourds is about 20 feet from house and 60 feet from fruit trees with good flyways.

Will probably move the first house parallel with the Gourds so its a good 60 feet away or more from those fruit trees.

17 year cicadia's are due to emerge in the next few weeks so food will be in plentiful supply. Pond is about 100 yards away from houses. Thanks for the reply. Staying patient but not many PM's around the last few weeks with constant 20mph winds and low temps. Th on looks to be mid 70-s and up. Good luck to you and all others Sir.
51 year old HY beginner. Year 1 for me!
Barry Wallace
Posts: 29
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:29 am
Location: (Wisconsin) Cumberland

Very sorry to hear that Brad. We had the same thing happen here in northern WI several years ago. I pulled over 90 nestlings out off my houses. This was in July after a week of cool rainy weather. And like in your case it was all the same size nestlings, the very small and the ones that had started to feather out survived, the unhatched eggs survived also. Mine did not renest but starting over here in Wi in July would be difficult for them. Again, sad to hear, i'm afraid your whole area will suffer similar losses.
Landlord since 1987
Kegger
Posts: 116
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:58 am
Location: Awesome Florida
Martin Colony History: Newbie in 2020: 2 pair of SY with 4 eggs each in Troyer Horizontals
fledged a total of 7 Martins

So sad Brad I hope some of your adults and sy try to renest.
Lewis
Posts: 240
Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 3:21 pm
Location: Georgia/Newnan

Brad, had the same thing happen here in North Georgia. 3 older chicks had died in same nest one was still alive but may have been in bad shape. All the recent hatchlings were alive and begging for food. Will check again. I had same thing happen several years ago and I lost 10-20 chicks. The adults did re nest.
I checked a bluebird nest with chicks about the same age and they had apparently died and parents removed them. I have never documented it but I believe martins will remove dead chicks if they are not too large. Removable from a horizontal gourd is probably not easy.

Lewis
Spring Garden Keeper
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Thanks for all your replies. Lewis, there were a couple of nests where the adults had tried to remove nestlings. A couple of them were up in the tunnel. I was addled enough that I wasn’t thinking things through but there were some nests that should have had eggs or small hatchlings in them but were empty. The adults probably removed those.

The grim reality of yesterday’s nest check was:

Nests: 89
Eggs: 97
Babies: 29
Dead: 67
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
SSMartin
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

What a shame sorry this happened at your colony. Please keep us posted on any re-nesting attempts. I sure hope they do renest.
Spiderman
Posts: 778
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:19 am
Location: Gladewater, Texas

I'm so Sorry to hear that this happened to your Martins.

Hopefully they will lay more eggs and the process will start over. It's still early in the season. The ASY's should have enough nourishment to lay eggs a second time.

But that is a trrrible thing to have to deal with!
2008 - 33 PAIR - FLEDGED 96 YOUNG
2009 - 51 PAIR - FLEDGED 166 YOUNG
2010 - 45 PAIR - FLEDGED 146 YOUNG
2011 - 33 PAIR - 128 HATCHED, 97 FLEDGED
2012 - 37 PAIR - 119 HATCHED, 101 FLEDGED
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Thanks guys. All that I can tell as of now is that at least most of the gourds that were occupied are still occupied. I sat a very short while down at the barn before work and the worst hit rack seemed to still be well populated with ASY pairs.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Ladybug
Posts: 203
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:09 pm
Location: Indiana/ Jamestown
Martin Colony History: 2005-2019. Lots lookers, 2 successful nesting's.
2010- 1 pair nested,eggs destroyed(Wren).
2012- 1 pair nested, 4 eggs, 4 fledged
2019- 1 pair nested, 4 eggs, 4 fledged.

Brad:
Very sorry to hear of your loss. Heartbreaking.
You have my sympathy. Hoping for warmer days soon.
Cold, wet windy days in Indiana too. Stormy days ahead
but 70's Temps.
Joanne
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Thanks Joanne. Our temps were near 70 today, with highs in the mid 80's by mid week. The morning lows are still cool, but not nearly as cool as this past weekend.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
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.

Brad,
So sorry to hear about the loss of your chicks. Terrible. We are much farther north, many birds have returned, mostly ASY birds have made it back to my colony. Due to terrible spring weather here, our birds have not shown any nesting activities yet. They are struggling to regain some sort of conditioning with very few insects alive to hunt and eat!! I have kept my colony alive with supplemental feeding of meal worms and crickets. (90% Mealies, 10% crickets) This is the worst, wet and cold spring I have ever seen in southeastern Ohio. In spite of my "flipping" efforts, I have still found 5 dead ASY birds in nest cavities in the last two weeks. I am quite sure that others have been lost but didnt make it back to the colony. I am hopeful that weather reports are correct, and warmer weather should be here in 2 or 3 days.
My loss seems like nothing compared with what you dealing with. Hopefully some of your bird will re-nest. Good luck, and let us know how things are going. I think you have plenty of time for successful re-nests!

Hang in there!

"Bird"
Mike "Bird" Wren
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Thanks Bird. I just read some reports on FB from two other very good Martin landlords from north AL. My situation isn't unique. They have experienced the same losses to a varying degree.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Archer
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.

Brad Biddle wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 9:42 pm
Thanks. Were your renesting failures due to time constraints? If so, then if mine attempt to renest, I see no reason they won't be successful. Most of the nests don't even contain eggs yet. It's just the earliest arrivals that were well ahead of the others.
I'm not crystal clear on the renesting failures, but my recollection says, bad parents are still bad parents on the second attempt. This early in the season, they should have time for another try. The number of eggs may be down on the second attempt, but that may be just as well.
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.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

10-4 thanks
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
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