Establishing a colony 🙏

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Mike Baugher
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:21 am
Location: Florida

Hello everyone. Having lived in town forever and worked every waking moment it was a real treat to finally retire and get a little place out in the country with a pond and some open land - and the hope of attracting some martins. The first 3 years were a no go with a few visitors but no permanent guests. This year was different with two pairs taking up residence March and two more pairs showing up about a month later. I live in northwest Florida and there were some pretty bad wildfires in the county to the west and to the south of me so maybe the second pair were forced to find a new home. Anyway, we had 12 babies and all survived with the last 2 taking wing today. I noticed yesterday a fairly large group of 50 or so martins flying around above the yard and pond with many in a big cypress tree in the pond. Are those visitors just that? Visitors? I have another pole and house in the barn that I thought of putting up just so they could check it out and some would maybe make plans to come back next year? I would love to attract more and provide for as many as I can in the years to come. It is a real pleasure to read all the posts here and see the knowledge accumulated by so many fine folks and the real love for these amazing little birds. 😊
johncanfield
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon May 04, 2020 5:13 pm
Location: Texas

Congratulations on a successful season Mike. It's taken me maybe five years to have five nesting pairs, sometimes in prior years I've seen a bunch of Martins flying around overhead. I assumed they were from other nesting sites or were migrating.
John
JJ Ranch
Texas Hill Country
SSMartin
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

They will form large flocks of parents and fledglings before they start migrating back south. I have had hundreds at a time in old snags and all over the racks especially after a rain storm. Your returning martins will attract new adult birds who were unsuccessful the previous year when they return next year and then those will attract sub adults and your site should grow every year going forward. I wouldn’t worry about putting up any new housing now.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1760
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.

Hi Mike,
Congrats on starting your new colony. The only suggestion I have would be to read as much information as you can about martins and how to best take care of them. Everything you need to know can be found on this website; look in the links section and FAQ section. Best of luck my friend.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
Whippy
Posts: 598
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:15 pm
Location: Plano, Texas
Martin Colony History: 2016 - late to put up, many visitors
2017 - 1 pair, 3 fledged
2018- 2 pair, 12 fledged
2019 - 4 pair, 21 fledged
2020 - 15 pair, 67 fledged

Mike,

Can you post a photo of your set up?

With all the experience here on the board you might receive some helpful suggestions to aid in your expansion success for next year. I've used ideas from photos of other sites to compare to my site and I would adjust as I went on. In 5 years, which includes 2020, I went from 0 birds to 1 pair, 2 pair, 4 pair and finally to 15 pair. I think that is due to the adjustments I made and the knowledge I've obtained from all the experience here.

Congrats on a successful season this year. Preparing for the next year will be a lot of fun. I have 4 nests left to fledge and I've already started planning my changes for next year.

Coolwhips
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2939
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

I have read that it statistically takes 6 pair to truly have an established colony ensuring you will have martins return each year. Migration, predators, etc. takes its toll. Having more then a single pair increases your odds that at least some of yours will survive until next season. How many cavities do you have now? It is not real common to get 100% of your cavities filled so you could offer 12 gourds and maybe only get 8 or 9 pair every year but the next year you add another 12 gourds you could easily jump to 20 pair. Especially in the south you can grow a colony quick. I have started 2 different colonies over the years and both times once they got going my numbers doubled or more each year the first few years. When I first started I always said I wanted to get to 100 pair, I was in my 20’s then and now being well into my 40’s I see how much work that is. Maybe once the kids are gone but for now I don’t plan to increase much more.
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.
Mike Baugher
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:21 am
Location: Florida

I have a single S&K house with 12 compartments. I closed things up so that there were just 6 compartments but they were 6x12 and I noticed all of the nests were at the very back so I think that must have been a good thing. The first 3 years I only had birds take a look but this year I attached 2 gourds. Looking at things on this site it looks like a terrible setup but maybe the gourds made something look different and better. I am going to make a much better effort next year and perhaps put up a good quality pole with an array of gourds. I will try to attach a picture - thank you to everyone for the replies and assistance. This will be sooo much fun.
Mike Baugher
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:21 am
Location: Florida

The new pole would be 15-20 feet from the one I have up this year - I have about a 3 acre yard next to a 4 acre pond.
S&K house
S&K house
BCD55613-363D-473C-98D5-F5E57F115B38.jpeg (113.7 KiB) Viewed 1458 times
Mike Baugher
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:21 am
Location: Florida

Plus about 34 acres of pasture. I think it has great potential and we are retired so I have time to be truly dedicated to it. Any advice on houses, gourds will be greatly appreciated.😊
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2939
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

You're in the south, with open land, and water. You can have as many martins as you want and can take care of. Quality housing, predator control, and nest checks will help you be successful.
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.
SSMartin
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

You don’t have to have an elaborate setup to have a colony. The fact you expanded the compartments is already great. I would keep the house as is and add a gourd rack for next year. Look at gourds that offer larger diameter nesting space, starling resistance, and tunnels all of these help keep the birds safe and comfortable.
Mike Baugher
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:21 am
Location: Florida

Thanks for the reply’s and information. I am looking now for a nice gourd setup. One more question. Would the new pole and gourds need to be in close proximity to the pole/house I have up this year? If I put the new setup in my front yard it would still be within 120-130 feet of the pond but it would be open to the pasture with plenty of open area immediately around the gourds. It would be maybe 100 feet from the location of the current house.
cary-nw-fla
Posts: 124
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:27 pm
Location: Holt, Florida

Hi Mike. Congrats on your year. Looks like I'm located just to the East of you. Your idea of a gourd rack is good. After adding a lot of gourds here at my site the martins just used them even though the houses had enlarged cavities. My season is coming to an end, I only have two gourds with young remaining. One scheduled to fledge about the 20th and the last the first week of Aug. Hope they can survive this heat we're having right now. Good Luck.
2010/2011: 0 / 2012: 8 Pair / 2013: 22 Pair / 2014: 35 Pair / 2015: 39 Pair / 2016: 73 Pair / 2017: 94 Pair
Cary
Mike Baugher
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:21 am
Location: Florida

Cary - you are so right about this heat. Funny how the heat doesn’t make me think about things like “it’s too hot to mow” or “too hot to go fishing” any more lol. It’s all about the birds while they are here. What kind of gourds and racks are you using and would you recommend? You have a really fine colony going there - congratulations!
cary-nw-fla
Posts: 124
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:27 pm
Location: Holt, Florida

Mike, home-made racks, variety of gourds: BO9's, BO11's, Big BO, Troyer verticals & horizontals, & super gourds. The martins like the gourds with tunnels. Since we're in the same area of the country, I'll make one recommendation, predator guard for snakes. I didn't realize there were so many around because they usually aren't seen. I had issues every season with the snakes until I installed a electric fence charger guard on my poles.
2010/2011: 0 / 2012: 8 Pair / 2013: 22 Pair / 2014: 35 Pair / 2015: 39 Pair / 2016: 73 Pair / 2017: 94 Pair
Cary
GFB
Posts: 65
Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2018 5:05 pm
Location: Ontario NY
Martin Colony History: I Started my first colony with my father in the late 1960's. Started building custom vinyl Martin houses last year 2018 and was successful with 10 birds fledged and it looks like several dozen birds are hanging around. Time to expand.
2018: 1 T-14 and 6 gourds. Fledged 10
2019: 2 T-14's and 6 gourds. Fledged 70
2020: 2 T-14's and 6 gourds. Fledged 111

Mike,
Congrats on your colony and retirement. Your location is perfect! I started my colony 3 years ago and from what I see my location looks similar to yours. Being my third year I offer 28 compartments 22 are house and 6 are gourds. Things I have to do to keep my colony successful this year are have a quality pellet gun with scope and target practice with it , making sure I can hit that relentless sparrow or starling that is hell bent on taking over my colony. I have to have a system that I can raise and lower easily. This week I had a 15 day old jump out of one of the houses either because of the heat or because of thousands of the mites climbing up the walls. being that I do weekly nest checks I was able to determine what compartment he came from, so I removed his siblings treated the entire house with seven,replaced the nest and replaced the baby. All is good three days later. Even though the birds love the houses just as much as the gourds I'm finding it easier to manage the gourds with a side cover that I can open and not worry about the older chicks jumping when I check on them. All my compartments are full this year with 123 hatchlings so I plan on adding a 12 Troyer gourd system increasing my colony to 40 compartments and that would be the maximum I can handle. Martins are a little more high maintenance than most birds but they are well worth the effort as you will find out. Best of luck and enjoy.

Guy,
Mike Baugher
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:21 am
Location: Florida

Thanks to everyone for the help. I have a second S&K house I will put up next year - along with the one I had this year and ado a gourd pole/rack system. They are indeed high maintenance birds and I think protecting and taking care of them is the key part of the process. Hoping for a bigger and better year next year and the same for everyone else. 😊
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