Disappearing Martins

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Hanover Bill
Posts: 627
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 3:10 pm
Location: Pennsylvania/Hanover Township
Martin Colony History: 2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72

I have seen this before but not to the extent that it is happening now. Three days ago my sky was full of Martins. For the last three days you wouldn't know there was an active site here. This coincides with two possible causes, the arrival of some wet windy weather, and the arrival of a persistent hawk which has been hanging around. At this point I don't know which way I am leaning as to the cause. This has been a thriving active colony for 7 years.

I would appreciate some opinions.

Thanks;
Hanover Bill.
2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72
SSMartin
Posts: 314
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

Any chance you have a nighttime predator as well such as snakes or owls?
flyin-lowe
Posts: 3134
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

My experience has been that when bad weather arrives at the start of the season the martins might disappear for a day or two, but it is usually only the martins that are arriving or due to arrive. Once they have been there for a week or two, and then we get bad weather they stick around and try to ride it out. They might not be out flying but will be perched or sticking their heads out of housing.

If you had a sky full of martins and now you are not seeing them I too would lean more toward some type of predator. The only predator I have had to deal with is hawks, I've never had a snake or other climbing predator breech my guards. it is not uncommon for me to see a cooper hawk trying to grab a meal from my place, and I've never had a colony abandon because of them. I am not sure how many times a hawk would have to attack your colony in order for the martins to decide to leave. I would think it would have to be successful attacks multiple times a day for an extended period to get them to all leave, but that's just a guess.
202160 nests with 187 eggs (6-3-20) HOSP count-9
2020 Currently 42 nest, Fledged approx 164 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 lone SY's
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.
C.C.Martins
Posts: 1119
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- didnt know anything about martins, put up an all wrong house in 2016 and had two come by and inspect all the cavities. Left soon after not to return. Learned what i could on PMCA made adjustments and next year was successful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021:
Home colony: mix natural gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satelite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 gourds: PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mino castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021:
PMCA member

First, your sure the martins are gone? Not in the houses, waiting it out? Your weather isn't really horrible, 60s and 70s....
Have you seen anything under your houses, martin or owl feathers, martin wings or dead birds? What does the inside of the houses look like, any remains or other evidence? Something happened, do you have predator guards? Sorry for the 100000 questions, but whippy went through hell with hawks, but even through all that his birds stuck around.. however he's looking good now.

Last season an owl broke one of our perch rods and turned the house 60 degrees. Found a GHO feather. Didnt lose any birds nor did he come back.
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
Whippy
Posts: 856
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:15 pm
Location: Plano, Texas
Martin Colony History: See Signature

C.C.Martins wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:14 am


....whippy went through hell with hawks, but even through all that his birds stuck around.. however he's looking good now.
Yeah. That was brutal. Got hit several times a day and there was a successful kill about every other day. There were times when the hawk was gone for a day or two suspecting she caught something somewhere else. I had hawks perching in trees all around me and I kept chasing them off with shots from a low pumped pellet pistol. If they got hit they got stung and not hurt but most of the time they got the full effect of the report when directed at them. I figured my colony was over before it got started. I last saw her on Thursday before Easter but never saw her again. Since they were scared of me at this point, I put a scare crow out with a bright red shirt and bright red hat. I came home that Monday to see Martins hanging out on their perches and I felt like going out there to make them fly off. There was a male lingering in the area but he never came to the housing. I think he's gone now as well.

As bad as my colony was terrorized I now have approximately 7 pairs in my T-14, 3 pairs in my Trio Wade and out of the 24 gourds I have up, I think about 18 of them are occupied. Still waiting for final pairings and nest building to begin before publishing true and accurate numbers.

So I got lucky I still have Martins although the hawks are devastating. I wonder then if they are gone for a few days until the weather changes or if there is something lurking in the gourds like wasps, snakes or other pests they don't like.

I sure am curious to know what the condition of your housing is with regards to possible intruders.

Hope they come back soon.

Coolwhips
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
Hanover Bill
Posts: 627
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 3:10 pm
Location: Pennsylvania/Hanover Township
Martin Colony History: 2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72

Thanks to all for the good responses. Glad to say Martins are back as of this morning. To answer some of the questions I have never had a problem with predators other than this resident hawk. I have good predator guards on all of my housing, and have never had evidence of night time predation, owl feathers, etc. I'm beginning to think they may have just been holed up in their compartments. Hard to believe they could stay out of site like that but I guess it's possible.

This morning all was normal, no strange behavior at all. In fact I fed them some scrambled eggs on the bed & breakfast and they eagerly consumed them.

One of life's little mysteries.

Thanks Again;
Hanover Bill.
2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72
C.C.Martins
Posts: 1119
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- didnt know anything about martins, put up an all wrong house in 2016 and had two come by and inspect all the cavities. Left soon after not to return. Learned what i could on PMCA made adjustments and next year was successful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021:
Home colony: mix natural gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satelite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 gourds: PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mino castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021:
PMCA member

Great news, it is worrying! Geeze, when I turn the corner on the street and don't see martins I start worrying. Sorry about all the questions. Didnt know the setup.
They can be funny like that, not a peep, no martins in sight, think the coast is clear to check them and you've just flushed a bunch. Shoot, just yesterday a dang sparrow was claiming a spot across the street on my neighbors martin house, id thought it had gone in..no martins in sight. I tapped the pole to get it out and a martin flushed. Can't shoot at that spot....
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
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