My birds don’t stay overnight... why?

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flmike
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:58 pm
Location: Moneta, Virginia

I’ve been trying for years to start a colony and I always have random visitors, but I’ve never been successful in getting a pair early in the season. I have two houses w/ 18 compartments, I only have two compartments on one house open at this time.

Saturday May 30, a pair arrived and after a few dogfights, the Martins claimed the house where a pair of Tree Swallows had begun building a nest. I removed the nest and plugged the holes of that compartment and opened two holes for the Martins. The Tree Swallows moved to a nearby Bluebird house.
Three Martins have spent the day here Saturday and Sunday with no interference from the swallows. The Martins leave in the middle of the day and return in the late afternoon. They seem to leave again in the early evening. They arrived again this morning around 7-7:30am and today one appears to be building a nest.

Where do they go for 3-4 hours each day and where do they go overnight?
SSMartin
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

They are out feeding and socializing with other martins. They are likely sleeping at a nearby roost.

Now that they are nest building they will likely start spending the night in their compartment of choice. They spend more and more time at the site as eggs and babies come.
flmike
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:58 pm
Location: Moneta, Virginia

Thank you SS, that makes me feel a bit better!
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.

Watch just before it gets too dark to see well. They will often come in to the cavity at the last minute. It may be that they are trying to not give predators a chance to see where they are nesting or roosting for the night. I was once just about to give up waiting for martins to show up when I first started and dark blurs came flying into the gourds.

Good luck,

Ed
Last edited by Ed Svetich-WI on Mon Jun 01, 2020 7:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
tor
Posts: 220
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:35 pm
Location: Marlboro County, SC
Martin Colony History: Capacity: 72 Troyers on 3 X Super-24 racks

Like Ed says, I am willing to bet they actually come in for the night. You're just calling it a day before they arrive. :grin:. Keep a close eye on them, and try keeping tree swallows, House Sparrows and Starlings (if any) away.

Don't give up. Keep up the good work.
Location: Marlboro County, SC

2020: Capacity: 72 - First Scouts: 2/11 - 71 pair - 298 hatched as of last nest check.
2019: Capacity: 72 - First Scouts: 2/22 - 70 pair - 315 fledged
2018: Capacity: 70 - First Scouts: 2/18 - 60 pair - 270 fledged
2017: Capacity: 42 - First Scouts: 2/25 - 39 pair
2016: Capacity: 42 - First Scouts: 3/10 - 32 pair
2015: Capacity: 24 - First Scouts: 3/23 - 4 pair

Purple Martins Of South Carolina
2020 Season
flmike
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:58 pm
Location: Moneta, Virginia

They left for the day around 1pm or so, and returned about 5:30 and have been steadily building a nest... the compartment is stuffed, but they are still hauling stuff in.

I put out some egg shells this am, and they have been eating those too.

The tree swallows have taken to the bb house I put up about 25’ feet away and it appears they have lost interest in the PM house.
flmike
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:58 pm
Location: Moneta, Virginia

The birds stayed busy building all evening, spent the night, and were up before me at 5:45 this am... still stuffing the cavity with nesting material.

On several trips one of them will deliver a 2’ + piece of straw and carry it in the compartment, the other bird will promptly drag it out a drop it to the ground!

It appears a third pm is building a nest in the other open compartment, or are they are building two nests? I have seen three birds (rarely) on the box at times.
SSMartin
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

Sometimes a male will claim two nests and tries to defend them both he may start to build a nest in the second but quickly focuses on the correct nest in a few days. I have never noticed a single bird build a nest but who knows.
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.

Is this the same house and location where you took a 07/04/2018 video of purple martins circling a Trio house close to a lake?

https://www.dropbox.com/s/9kjahoh0pp8q2 ... M.mp4?dl=0
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.
flmike
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:58 pm
Location: Moneta, Virginia

Yes, the same house.
In 2018, I had buckets of pm’s roosting across the lake, high in the pine trees.
I never saw pm’s in 2019 though.

I hope these stay and raise.
flmike
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:58 pm
Location: Moneta, Virginia

I have two houses, separated by about 80-100’.

I only have two compartments on one house open at this time.
I see the birds going into both compartments regularly and there is a nest in each compartment.
I occasionally see three pm’s perched on the house or flying.
Yesterday two of the pm’s appeared to be fighting, they were vocalizing loudly and seemed to be playing “king of the hill” on the second closed up house. The third bird was vocalizing as well, but remained on the open house.

The two birds were crashing into each other in a violent way.

After all this was over the two birds both perched on the closed house for an hour or so.
Later, one bird continued to come and go from the closed house, while the other two came and went from the open house... again, using both open compartments.

This morning I still have one bird perching on the closed house and two coming and going from the open house.

Should I open a compartment for the third pm?
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