Cold/Cool weather questions.

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

I am curious from those who know, what kind of overnight low temps can they handle and at what point do they start communal roosting etc? I have observed some strange behavior at my colony the last few days. Friday, everything was perfectly normal. I have approximately 20-30 ASY pair currently. Overnight Friday into Saturday morning temps slowly crept down to about 30 degrees but by sun up they were quickly into the 40's and Saturday it was sunny and in the high 50's. Saturday night it was cool again and overnight temps dipped into the lows 40's but again temps reached into the low 60's and overnight into Monday morning the temps are currently 39 degrees but will be in the low 50's within a couple hours. Saturday afternoon as it was warming up I observed about 15-20 birds sitting on my roof soaking up the sun. As I pulled into the house from work they flew up and buzzed around for a minute and I really haven't seen many of them since. Early Saturday morning when I left for work it was about 33 degrees I none of them were out on the porch so I assumed that they were still in the cavities but yesterday morning none of them were around and after work yesterday I lowered all the housing to make sure there were no issues, or they were all crammed into a couple cavities and trapped. All the nests looked normal and a few of them flew around while I had the houses lowered so that was a relief but I have around 40-50 or more martins that have been here for weeks and most have full nests and now I have only seen about 15 or so of them since Saturday morning. I don't think brief low overnight temps of low 30's (the temps were only that low for an hour or 2) is enough to kill them but would it be enough for them to decide to go try to find some communal roost somewhere? I've never had them take off as a group like this this late in the season. No signs of any other kind of predator issues around either. With the cold temps overnight the weather has been fine for feeding each day, with sunshine and temps at least 50, yesterday it reached 60 briefly.
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.
Ed Svetich-WI
Posts: 798
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 10:05 pm
Location: Brooks, Wi (McGinnis Lake)
Martin Colony History: 24 Super and Excluder Gourds on two gourd racks, all SREH. Full occupancy. My philosophy is to maximize fledge % with existing cavities rather than adding gourds to grow colony, thus providing opportunities for new colony expansion. Fledge over 100 nestlings yearly from 24 gourds. Band nestlings in cooperation with state university. 2019 Adendum: Reduced colony size to 12 gourds to focus on more intensive management regimen.

24° with strong NW winds all night is the coldest that martins have ever experienced here and it was just two days ago. We had some snow yesterday but not as bad as the east. Every morning these past seven mornings have been in the 30s. No dead martins found in the gourds. Luckily, one no feeding day between good days apparently allowed them to survive. On cold mornings, they are very slow to leave the gourds, especially on cloudy mornings. If the sun is out, they will emerge and sun themselves before flying off. They are just now beginning to show themselves at 7:30 am.

I have not checked gourds if they are not stirring as I do not want them to fly out and use up whatever energy reserve they may have. I have not seen more than two birds leaving an individual gourd. Once they are out and about, I check the gourds and have found no dead martins. We have been forunate thus far.

Good luck to all.

Ed
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.

Ed,
I can't imagine dealing with the temps you guys have in Minn., and Wis. et al !! I am struggling with cold and wet weather that has been in the high twenties on and off for the last 3 weeks. I have been flipping Mealies and crickets to save as many martins as I can, but my flipping sessions are dominated by the birds that are in the best condition and are the most aggressive feeders. The birds that need the supplemental feedings the most just don't do as well as needed. I need to somehow "teach" these birds to use the Bed and Breakfeast trays that they just ignore now.
I need to go check on my colony as things warm up a bit. I am not looking forward to finding birds in any cavities that didnt survive the night.
Going to try to get the birds to accept flipped scrambled eggs as I am running low on Meal worms! When I have tried eggs before, some birds will take them, but most of my birds spit them out as they are waiting for more Mealies!!
Hopefully this weather will break while I still have my colony.

Bird
Mike "Bird" Wren
Doug Martin - PA
Posts: 1920
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:47 am
Location: Pennsylvania/Fombell
Martin Colony History: First pair in 2009 after 28 years of trying. 3 pairs 2010, 17 pairs 2011 and 35-45 pairs since. Many additional colonies are now springing up around mine in an area once completely void of Martins. I offer 50 compartments at my site consisting of primarily Excluder II gourds on Gemini racks. Also a wooden T-14. I utilize electric fence type predator guards on the base of the poles. Supplemental feeding is crucial in maintaining my colony. I platform feed throughout the season as needed. My site tends to be a stop over point for additional birds as they migrate further north.

I posted reports several years ago of a Martin that came in here in March that endured extremely cold temperatures and survived.

I would need to look back on it but I know nighttime temperatures were in the single digits and highs were in the teens. I don’t think it went above freezing for almost 10 days.

He ate flipped crickets daily and remained active even in snowstorms. So as long as they eat and stay active they can survive very cold temperatures.
Supplemental feeding plays a major role in western Pennsylvania. Finally got my 1st pair in 2009 after 28 years of effort. 3 pairs in 2010. 17 pairs in 2011. 35 pairs and 150 young in 2012 & 2013. Plus a new 22 pair colony right down the road from me.
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2936
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Still not sure what is going on around here but I feel like I have lost a big portion of my colony. Again the temps are not to the point where I think it killed any of them. And I have no dead martins around anywhere. Overnight temps have still been dropping to mid to high 30's over night but day time temps have still been around 50, some days higher. I don't think these conditions would kill any of them and even if they did die due to weather I would anticipate finding them in cavities. As of this morning I am still only seeing about 20 martins a day at most, I had around 60 last week. The martins that are still here at using all of the housing, so it's not like a snake got in and wiped out one system. Also I have my new predator guards painted gloss black and in the past if something tried to scale it I would see prints on it. I have some very slight hawk pressure but no different than any other year. I have a lot of kill deer on my property and as always they are a great alarm system. The times I have seen a hawk it has never gotten close to my martin housing, it gets on the perimeter of my property and the and the kill deer sound the alarm and most birds in the area take flight and mob the hawk. I haven't seen a hawk fly anywhere near the martin housing, so I am stumped at this point. I was really hoping that they had gone off to a communal roost this weekend when temps got into the high 20's over night but since then they have not really fully returned so who knows........At this point I am hoping for a good SY flock, I haven't observed any yet but anticipate them moving in with a big warm up that is coming the 2nd half of this week.
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.
NormWild
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri May 11, 2018 9:11 pm
Location: Eastern PA

flyin-lowe wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 10:41 am
Still not sure what is going on around here but I feel like I have lost a big portion of my colony. Again the temps are not to the point where I think it killed any of them. And I have no dead martins around anywhere. Overnight temps have still been dropping to mid to high 30's over night but day time temps have still been around 50, some days higher. I don't think these conditions would kill any of them and even if they did die due to weather I would anticipate finding them in cavities. As of this morning I am still only seeing about 20 martins a day at most, I had around 60 last week. The martins that are still here at using all of the housing, so it's not like a snake got in and wiped out one system. Also I have my new predator guards painted gloss black and in the past if something tried to scale it I would see prints on it. I have some very slight hawk pressure but no different than any other year. I have a lot of kill deer on my property and as always they are a great alarm system. The times I have seen a hawk it has never gotten close to my martin housing, it gets on the perimeter of my property and the and the kill deer sound the alarm and most birds in the area take flight and mob the hawk. I haven't seen a hawk fly anywhere near the martin housing, so I am stumped at this point. I was really hoping that they had gone off to a communal roost this weekend when temps got into the high 20's over night but since then they have not really fully returned so who knows........At this point I am hoping for a good SY flock, I haven't observed any yet but anticipate them moving in with a big warm up that is coming the 2nd half of this week.

I think everyone in the north has to be in the same boat. I had 12 birds a week ago and then we had a dismally cold day Saturday with rain & snow. But then a real nice Sunday, highs in the 60s. I just checked my set up and flushed 4 birds from my gourds/houses, none dead, but most of the birds seem to have disappeared. I would love to hear some thoughts on where these birds go, and if they will return once the weather breaks, which appears to be this Friday in Eastern PA. I can only assume they headed south to get to get a break from the cold. The birds I had were paired up and roosting nightly, so they were committed to the site.
Doug Martin - PA
Posts: 1920
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:47 am
Location: Pennsylvania/Fombell
Martin Colony History: First pair in 2009 after 28 years of trying. 3 pairs 2010, 17 pairs 2011 and 35-45 pairs since. Many additional colonies are now springing up around mine in an area once completely void of Martins. I offer 50 compartments at my site consisting of primarily Excluder II gourds on Gemini racks. Also a wooden T-14. I utilize electric fence type predator guards on the base of the poles. Supplemental feeding is crucial in maintaining my colony. I platform feed throughout the season as needed. My site tends to be a stop over point for additional birds as they migrate further north.

Flyin Lowe,

I suspect a good number of the deaths occurring at local sites here and the ones that were communal roosting at my site were migrating birds. They were not familiar with platform feeding here. This is not good for those landlords further north. Weather like this not only delays migration but it is also hardest on those birds depleted from the trip.

In surveying my site this morning all of the early arriving and paired birds seem to be fine. I have one pair that was real early that have continued to lay eggs thru this brutal cold spell. They now have 5 eggs.

The gourds and cavities that were the last to fill in the past week or so seem to now have the vacancies. I found about 17 birds that were communal roosting and pulled them out the one warm day we had. They all flew off weakly but made it into the air. They do not seem to have come back but I will lower and check all the housing. It is not common for the birds nesting at my site to communal roost as they are fed well during cold spells. They just stick to their own gourd in pairs. I had a lot of fighting late last week at dark as birds were trying to go into occupied cavities.

Perhaps many of the birds at your site were also migrants that were held up by the weather and then moved on. Just a thought. I know that is what happens at my site when the weather is borderline.

I would imagine many birds that go out and try to feed in cold temperatures do not find enough food to survive and make it back home.Mine come back starving even on 60 degree days. If you find them on the ground around your housing then certainly many more go down away from the housing as well in an attempt to feed. They definitely need more to eat then those tiny gnats that are about the only insects available after cold weather.

Doug
Supplemental feeding plays a major role in western Pennsylvania. Finally got my 1st pair in 2009 after 28 years of effort. 3 pairs in 2010. 17 pairs in 2011. 35 pairs and 150 young in 2012 & 2013. Plus a new 22 pair colony right down the road from me.
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2936
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

I am positive the birds I had were not migrating. They have been here for several weeks and my first initial nest check last week revealed 21 full nests with green leaves, etc. and 15 additional nests that were partials, some of which I think were duplicates. I also don't think my weather has been as bad as some people further east of me. For example, last Friday it was sunny and in the 50's. Overnight the temps dropped to 28 degrees around 5:00 am but by 8:30 am it was in the high 30's and was in the 50's by afternoon. It dropped again to near freezing early Sunday morning but again as soon as the sun came up the temps reached 60 degrees. These freezing temps I described were only around for a couple hours pre dawn and then temps and weather were favorable for feeding that day. There hasn't been one day here in the last week that they couldn't feed. Just sub freezing temps for an hour or so before sun up. I would say I will know more in the next day or two as temps are going to be getting into the 70's. I just can't imagine that they would leave to just because a couple of hours of sub freezing temps, especially since those were during the dark.
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.
Coni
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:39 am
Location: East Rochester, OH

Anybody having trouble with purple martins dying because of the weather? It all started last Friday, then Saturday , Sunday, Monday and today. I have 17 dead pm. I have tried to keep some of them alive, not very successful. I live in East Rochester,oh let me know if anybody else is having problems
Dave Duit
Posts: 1757
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.

Please read up on supplement feeding if you are new to martins and weather.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
Coni
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:39 am
Location: East Rochester, OH

I feed my Martins live mealworms and dry ones, not all the the martins will go for it, that where it is rough.
Doug Martin - PA
Posts: 1920
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:47 am
Location: Pennsylvania/Fombell
Martin Colony History: First pair in 2009 after 28 years of trying. 3 pairs 2010, 17 pairs 2011 and 35-45 pairs since. Many additional colonies are now springing up around mine in an area once completely void of Martins. I offer 50 compartments at my site consisting of primarily Excluder II gourds on Gemini racks. Also a wooden T-14. I utilize electric fence type predator guards on the base of the poles. Supplemental feeding is crucial in maintaining my colony. I platform feed throughout the season as needed. My site tends to be a stop over point for additional birds as they migrate further north.

Flyin-Lowe,

Let us know what happens there at your site. Today is a different day at my site. Sunny no wind and 55 headed to 60. I definitely have less birds as well but the early veteran pairs are all intact. Sounds like your weather was nothing like ours here.

Sure you don't have a Hawk issue?

Green leaves were going in like crazy this morning. Nesting resumed at a frantic pace here.

Coni,

Yes there have been heavy Martin losses in the North East.
Supplemental feeding plays a major role in western Pennsylvania. Finally got my 1st pair in 2009 after 28 years of effort. 3 pairs in 2010. 17 pairs in 2011. 35 pairs and 150 young in 2012 & 2013. Plus a new 22 pair colony right down the road from me.
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.

Just awhile ago, found 1 ASM on the ground under his nest gourd. He felt really warm, seemed fat enough but appeared weak. I lowered rack, helped him into THG.
He wiggled on in. Will check gourd in couple hours. This Cold weather is BAD. Not much else I can do.
Maybe a hand warmer.
Joanne
Sue P
Posts: 395
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:10 pm
Location: Morgantown, WV

Well, the carnage continues. Three more dead martins, and it didn't even get into the low 30's last night. They were all in 1 gourd. Maybe 12 or 15, some smothered, some starved. Two bodies blocked the door. I checked the gourds at 10 this morning, and had to push all of the live ones out. They all left and haven't seen another martin around. No nest building, chatter, or anything normal.

Would it be an idea to take the gourds down? Maybe if they didn't have them to pack into, they would quit killing each other. A few spend the night in the T-14, but I don't find many dead ones there. Always the gourds. And they totally ignore the Bed and Breakfast. Other years they would be after the egg shells, but they don't even land on it now. Suggestions, please?
4th Gen Martin Fan
Posts: 1483
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:19 pm
Location: TN/Collierville
Martin Colony History: I have been exposed to purple martin sounds in utero when my mother went out to get my father away from his martin colony.
I played around the martin colony every summer and watched as my father maintained his colony. In the late 50's until the 70's he did not notice European Starlings in south Texas.
When old enough, I helped maintain his colony. My primary task was eliminating English House Sparrows with a 1956 Benjamin 317 .177 air rifle.
When I settled into my own home, I started my first colony with an original Trio Castle and Trio Grandpa. When I moved again, I did not put up any martin houses. Frustration with European Starlings in the Southeast US was overwhelming.
Found PMCA Forum and learned about modern enlarged compartments and SREHs.
Inherited my father's last martin house, a Trio Grandma, modified it to modern specifications and have had good results since then.

Every year the PMCA Forum hears from the MidWest, NorthEast and Atlantic Coast landlords struggling with early arrival purple martins.
The solution always seems to be centered around supplemental feedings.
How many of these landlords have adapted their housing to keep their purple martins warm in their housing through these cold spells?

I believe that supplemental feeding is important. What about extra calories spent by the purple martins to keep themselves warm inside an cold, non-insulated house or gourds? It seems that a multi-disciplined approach to cold weather is wise and beneficial to the purple martins in these northern latitude colonies.

Hand warmers, water bottles, and other heat sources are put in compartments but that is disruptive to the purple martins trying to hunker down in their compartments to stay warm. How many of these landlord's homes are insulated AND warmed with heat sources? Imagine landlords living in a small metal or plastic shed in their backyard.
Mark.
Firm believer in HOSP/EUST Control, Enlarged Compartments, SREHs, Pole Predator Guards, Owl/Hawk Guards, Mite/Parasite Control, Housing Insulation, and Vents for Compartment Cooling.
PMCA Member.
Sue P
Posts: 395
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:10 pm
Location: Morgantown, WV

I think some sort of heating is a good idea. However the hand warmers are only good for a few hours, even though they say 10 hours. Hot water bottles (if you happen to have 12 or 15 lying around) also cool off. I used a lot of cedar shavings and pine straw, but it didn't seem to matter. It has been very cold, very rainy, very windy most of the spring, but I am wondering about a disease. It seems like the birds are unusually dirty. Probably they don't preen as much as they need to because of lack of energy. But we have had other years that were really nasty., And with this huge die-off will he martins return again next year. Unlikely. I sure miss all of their chatter. It is just too quiet.
ToyinPA
Posts: 2126
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

Martins in northern states are always at risk with these constant cold weather patterns. Every year is different. We've had warm Aprils/early Mays & very cold Aprils/early Mays. If we want martins we must take steps to help them survive these cold spells.

If it were me....I'd keep all gourds closed until the weather reaches good temps at night. I consider good night temps being in the 40's. A single well fed martin should be able to survive overnight temps in the 40's. Keep lower levels of houses closed & only open the other levels. On cold (temps in the 30's) nights place a 10 or 12 hour hand warmer in the lower cavities about an hour before dark. Close the entrance to keep the heat in, so it rises to warm the rooms above. Turn the trays around or use duct tape over the entrance.

Train your martins to either catch flipped crickets or meal worms or eat off a tray. On cold, windy, snowy, or rainy days I feed 3 times a day. Mid-morning, early afternoon & early evening. If the temp is 50 check the wind chill, as it may often be in the lower 40's, which means no chance of them finding any food. I always feed early evening, so they have a good feeding before night. This gives them enough energy to deal with the cold. Each martin would require around 40 crickets per feeding. Crickets should be 3/4 inch to 1 inch in size. I don't use meal worms, so I can't suggest how many they would need per feeding. I would not use freeze dried meal worms, as they contain little nutrition (according to the rehabbers).

Training them to catch crickets or meal worms is not easy, but all it takes is one martin to go after them & the rest will follow. Keep trying until they catch on. Once they catch on try to move to tray feeding if possible. Not all will tray feed. Mine refuse to & I've tried many, many times. So I bundle up & go out in the freezing cold & flip until I'm froze & my hands no longer work. My martins will get so close I can feel the wind from their wings as they zip past me. I can almost touch them. Keep in mind females will hang back, as males tend to be a bit aggressive, so try to make sure you flip some at the females. Mine perch above me on wires, so I flip a few in one direction & as soon as the males go after them I quickly flip a few towards the females.

Always check all cavities in the morning to make sure they aren't piled up inside, stuck & can't get out.


Toy in PA
PMCA Member
Kathlyn H
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 2:04 pm
Location: OH/Gambier

Coni wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 9:18 pm
Anybody having trouble with purple martins dying because of the weather? It all started last Friday, then Saturday , Sunday, Monday and today. I have 17 dead pm. I have tried to keep some of them alive, not very successful. I live in East Rochester,oh let me know if anybody else is having problems
So sorry to hear. It happened to me past 2 days. Have 21 perish. Live in Central Ohio. Waiting to see how many come back tonight. My heart is broken.
.
paule
Posts: 81
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:06 pm
Location: Central Iowa
Martin Colony History: 5 Modified Trios 10 Gourds and 1 B&B
2019 24 Pair 83 Fledged
2018 23 Pair 92 Fledged
2017 26 Pair 105 Fledged
2016 21 Pair 99 Fledged
2015 15 Pair 59 Fledged
2014 18 Pair 40 Fledged
2013 16 Pair 30 Fledged
2012 10 Pair 30 Fledged
Started in late 1980's

Sue P wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 1:42 pm
I think some sort of heating is a good idea. However the hand warmers are only good for a few hours, even though they say 10 hours. Hot water bottles (if you happen to have 12 or 15 lying around) also cool off. I used a lot of cedar shavings and pine straw, but it didn't seem to matter. It has been very cold, very rainy, very windy most of the spring, but I am wondering about a disease. It seems like the birds are unusually dirty. Probably they don't preen as much as they need to because of lack of energy. But we have had other years that were really nasty., And with this huge die-off will he martins return again next year. Unlikely. I sure miss all of their chatter. It is just too quiet.
Sue
All I can tell you is what I do that has been successful for me. I live in Iowa and remember some real bad weather in April through May. Years ago I lost over 30 Martins due to a cold and rainy Spring. It took seven years to get a single one back. Since then I do everything in my power to not repeat that and most everything I do has been copied from this forum.
Heating:
I added electric heating to my Trio houses and close off the gourds. I open the gourds as the numbers increase. The Trio's are insulated and I also add insulation to the top of the aluminum sub floor farthest from the entrance before adding the pine needles. Since doing this the birds remain very clean. I use a shorter length reptile heater than the following link shows due to them being Trio Grampas. viewtopic.php?t=13335
Hand warmers:
I buy when I find them on sale. What are usually not used will be used on our family fall fishing trips. I reserve these only for the chicks if needed. When I used to see the Martins sitting on the power lines without a sound coming from them like they were depressed I would find the chicks cold and dying. I would add hand warmers under their nests and try feeding the adults. Now I have several Martins that will let me know they need food by hovering in my face.
Supplemental feeding:
What I have found that works best for me and the martins is eggs, meal worms, egg shells and Nexton "I". I take 1/2 cup of dried meal worms then crush them up. I then add them to 3 beaten eggs. To this I add crushed up egg shells from 1 1/2 eggs that have been washed and sanitized in the oven. (I set the oven at 250* F and preheat. Turn off oven and leave the shells in oven until cool.) I add this mixture to a covered and preheated 6" pan on medium heat for approximately 4 minutes then flip over for about 1 minute to make my 6" Martin Cake. I then cut it into 1/4" to 3/8" pieces. These I can flip, put on the Bed & Breakfast, store in the refrigerator or freeze. I sprinkle Nexton "I" on the pieces from a "well marked" salt shaker just before feeding. Note: I read somewhere that dried meal worms can deplete some of the calcium in birds. Thus the egg shells.

These egg pieces are easy to flip with a plastic serving spoon. I try to target the females as the males are more aggressive to feed. I flip 10 - 15 yards from the Bread and Breakfast mostly to keep other birds from chasing the martins from the feeder. The last thing to be eaten from the feeder are the crickets. Unusually bad weather this year but have not lost a martin.

I had much difficulty years ago to get them to feed. Back then only crickets and live meal worms with their heads pinched. Martins would land on our house roof to warm up. I found that to be a golden opportunity to flip food on roof. The only place the food was not wasted. The next year an ASY male seemed to teach the rest of the flock to take food on wing as well as the B&B. As they all learned the rest is history. The migrating birds are also picking this up as well. That should make it easier for our northern landlords. Just remember our trained birds prefer "egg bits." :lol:

I have an emergency kit for the martins just like I have an emergency kit for our vehicles in the winter. It consists of:
30 Gal. container of white pine needles.
Large container of oat straw
Freeze dried meal worms
Sanitized egg shells
Nexton "I"
Several containers of frozen "egg bits"
Sevin powder
Heated rehab hospital I use for Parrots
Project MartinWatch participants and supplemental feeding is provided. I also add heat to housing when needed.
Ryan
Posts: 281
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 4:19 pm
Location: Eganville, Ontario
Martin Colony History: Visitors are rare. Three SY males seen in 10 years.

That's a great write up on feeding, Paule.
Home site: 12 cedar chalets - Plus two satellite sites which are also empty.
2010- 1 SY male on and off for a couple weeks
2011- 0 visits
2012- 0 visits
2013- 0 visits
2014- 1 SY male stopped in here and there for two weeks.
2015- 0 visits
2016- 0 visits
2017- 0 visits
2018- 0 visits
2019- Break-through year. Had a SY Male stop in on June 7th and stay all day, every day until end of June and built a nest. Hoping he returns in 2020 because I'm getting tired of updating this list.
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