Cold/Cool weather questions.

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kborder
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:02 pm
Location: Ohio/Dresden

Here in Ohio we had too many cold nights successively with day time temperatures not great for feeding. We lost 10 birds that we know of, 3 died in their boxes and the rest were literally falling out of the sky.
We gathered 3 from the ground and kept them inside Tuesday night which dipped to 30 degrees, and force fed crickets. One survived and flew toward the housing yesterday. I NEVER want to see another spring like this.
Kegger
Posts: 123
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

Thanks Paule, for sharing this info.

Flyin-Lowe: I was wondering if there are any hot water discharges close to you,
like a power plant on a river,etc. I have seen robins spend a winter at such a place in
central Pa on the Susquehana river just south of Harrisburg.
It maybe a place where Martins would roost in the cold and also would have food
for them. Like a little oasis.
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2959
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Not sure but I have an update. This past weekend when I checked in the cavities I just peaked inside most of them thinking I might find one stuffed with martins. Today there was still less then 20 martins at my site so this afternoon I lowered all the housing and opened each cavity, thinking there might have been single dead martin in the back of some of the cavities that I didn't see this weekend. The good news was there was no dead martins and no nests appeared to be disturbed. Tonight about an hour before dark I counted approximately 50 martins on the housing and everything seemed to be normal. It still appeared there was a few less then I was seeing before last Friday but more then double what I have been seeing since last Friday. I am not sure what has been going on this past week but I have never had something like this at this point in the season. It is not uncommon for my first returnees to disappear for a day or two. But this time I had 50% or more leave for almost a full week after building full nests. The martins that were here tonight seemed to act like they belonged here and where not just passing through. They set on their porches in pairs and weren't really jumping from cavity to cavity. Ill keep an eye on things and see how this week goes. Unless something unforeseen happens the weather is not supposed to be anywhere near freezing from here on out.
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.
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.

After a low temperature of 60 last night and a high yesterday of 70 my site is jumping. Seems many returned here as well.

Plus some new ones and first sub adult males. The tree swallows were also gone and are now chittering around too. What a difference a few days can make!
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.
Sue P
Posts: 395
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:10 pm
Location: Morgantown, WV

I think the carnage may be over. I started out with about 30 martins here, and the die-off was unbelievable. I saw 6 martins come in for the night Wednesday night, then 1 on the T-14 yesterday. Nothing last evening until almost dark, then 4 or 5 came back to the T-14. This morning there were four preening themselves and investigating cavities on the T-14 and the gourd rack. No more dead. They are gone now, feeding, I assume. I don't know if the subbies are here, or if they are even coming. All three of these birds were adults, two males and one female.

On another thought, I had two hummingbirds telling me that they needed their feeder outside, and they have really been using it. If the martins couldn't make it through the cold weather with shelter, why didn't those hummingbirds die? I really feel that the Martins had some sort of a virus. A few survived. This is just my thought, but I can't believe they just died even though they had feed and shelter.
Sue P
Posts: 395
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:10 pm
Location: Morgantown, WV

No more deaths. I saw three martins this am. on the T-14, and saw about 5 coming in last night landing. I started out with about 30, so that is a rather large death toll. The Martins this morning were exploring nesting cavities and preening. They have left now to feed. I have been keeping the Bed and Breakfast full, and the local Mockingbird loves it.

I also was visited by two hummingbirds, which are now feeding on our deck. How did they manage to live through the disaster? No food, no shelter, very tiny bodies. I am very suspect of the weather being the only culprit in this die-off. I think the Martin's could have succumbed to some sort of virus. They seemed so weak. Not all were emaciated. I guess I will never know. I just hope something happens positively with the three or four I have left.
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
Glad the worst is over for you. Your story really caught my attention. Brought back some memories to me. The Hummers are unique and can do things the martins are not capable of doing. Hummingbirds are capable of dropping their body temperature and overall metabolism overnight.
Paule
Project MartinWatch participants and supplemental feeding is provided. I also add heat to housing when needed.
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.

Paule,
Sounds like you and I are the only landlords who have used a multi-discipline approach to cold weather - insulated/heated housing AND supplemental feeding..
I read the post you referenced about heating Trio houses. You had minimal losses this year and I want to commend you on your success.
I did read that David Druit has heated an enclosed feeding station but did not indicate he has done anything to housing to reduce losses from cold weather.

I understand why the discussion is always directed at supplemental feeding. It is a hands on, exciting and a more direct feeling way to reduce cold weather losses.

Of the housing I help supervise (> 100 expanded compartments), the only loss due to cold weather this spring was one ASY female found dead in a non-insulated house. No losses in any insulated housing.

Maybe in 5-10 years the purple martin community will realize the value of insulated housing and/or heated housing. In the meantime, we will continue to hear each year how terrible the spring, cold weather is on the purple martin community.

I firmly believe that insulated housing is extremely beneficial. Prevention is the Best Medicine!!
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.
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

Mark,

Several individuals explained to me that heating houses would do no good as long as I was supplementary feeding. I felt it would do no harm either and excitedly went ahead with the modifications. With a colony the size I have and being retired I can observe the nuances going on in my colony. I was surprised that the hens seemed more eager to join in on the feeding frenzy of flipped food. There seems to be more at the B&b also. Were they more energized with the help of heated cavities or more likely to venture out knowing they had a warm cavity to go back to? I just don't know. What I do know is it solved the problem of over crowding in cavities and having deaths due to suffocation or birds just unable to exit the cavities. The insulation obviously helped with the heating of the cavities in an aluminum house but the benefits continue on by keeping the blazing sun of summer from overheating them also. When I feel it is safe to plant tomatoes I remove the heaters from the cavities. One to two days and those cavities are occupied. I travel to fellow Martin Landlords to enjoy and observe how their colonies are doing. It is so obvious just by the sounds and energy going on the struggle some colonies are going through. Trying to educate some martin people has similarities of herding cats. I sure hope It doesn't take the "5-10 years the purple martin community will realize the value of insulated housing and/or heated housing." So Mark, I totally agree with you that " Prevention is the Best Medicine!!"

Since reading about Nekton "I" from Doug Martin - PA posts and implementing that in my egg concoction I have noticed good things. Last year I had two abandoned chicks that I fed in their gourd for about two weeks before they fledged successfully. They learned to find food on their own and returned each evening to their gourd for about a week after that before leaving. Every year I notice there are not enough ASY females to go with the returning ASY males. They have to wait for the SY females to arrive. Except this year! Was it because of my modified supplemental feeding last year that was provided when insects were in short supply while hens were feeding their young keeping them stronger for the journey south? Maybe, but no way to tell for sure.

I have not seen or conversed with Dave Duit on his heated feeding station or insulation he may or may not provide. I have seen some of his housing he manages and electricity would not be available.

To a successful year

Paule
Project MartinWatch participants and supplemental feeding is provided. I also add heat to housing when needed.
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.

Paule,
Your colony's growth and success is a testament to the multi-discipline approach to cold/cool weather conditions.

In the Southeast martins overcrowding into single compartments to the point of suffocation and blocked entrances does not happen very often. So I cannot attest to that problem.
The fact that martins resort to overcrowding into one compartment to keep warm is proof that the martins are struggling to stay alive in cold/cool weather. When the martins closest to the entrance die from the cold and block the entrance, then all of the martins in that compartment die unless the landlord intervenes. How will the landlord know that has happened? If the landlord is reluctant to disturb the martins in the compartment during the cold weather, the overcrowded compartment may go undetected. The heartbreak that all of those martins perished in vain would be difficult.
When purple martins have a warmer compartment from insulation and/or heat source, overcrowding is not necessary from the martin's instincts. That theory makes intuitive sense and strengthens the idea of insulation and/or heating.

It also makes sense that martins will be more willing to come out to get supplemental feedings if they know they will have a warm compartment to return to. That is a very valuable observation and would be accepted as fact if more landlords tried as a minimum insulation in their housing and observed the same phenomenon. As many martins as are lost due to cold weather each year would imply that supplemental feedings AND insulated housing and/or heating is beneficial.
Unfortunately, these recent losses are fading quickly from the memory of landlords. Even though the cold weather losses occur every year to some degree, approximately every 3-4 years the losses are severe (like this year).

I have been criticized about insulated housing in the past. The primary argument against insulated housing has been warm/hot climate landlords believe that the heat in the compartment will be worse with an insulated compartment. That argument is wrong and I have proved that. My colony is in the Southeast US where daytime high temperatures can reach 105°F. Insulated housing decreases greenhouse effect. Additionally, ventilation holes are opened for the hot temperatures.
I follow Louise Chambers' excellent recommendation to open ventilation holes when daytime high temperatures reach 90°F.
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.
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2959
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

I was out in the yard today trying to finish a project before work and there was a lot of action around the housing. I have a feeling some SY's arrived today, everything was jumping a lot more than normal. I'll be able to check more closely tomorrow.
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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