Pic's of Supplemental Feeding

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Tim Mangan-Kansas
Posts: 1728
Joined: Wed Mar 15, 2006 7:25 am
Location: Kansas, Pittsburg
Martin Colony History: 2016 - 22 Pair

Yesterday, I posted a couple of pictures of my martins with the snow coming down. I noted they were finding some insects over the water on the other side of the cove. Yesterday was the second day and third night of bad weather; cold, windy, no sun, rain and 3" of snow.

About 4:00 PM yesterday, I went out and lowered my pole. I plugged up a couple of the entry holes which had the openings facing north and northwest as I did not want my martins roosting in those two gourds due to the wind and a forecasted low of 24 for last night. I also put some corks in my PVC elbows that I use in the rear of my Troyer gourds for vents. Again, did not want the wind blowing through as a constant draft during the night. I had three 18 hour handwarmers that I placed in three of my Troyers. I placed all of them under about an inch of pine needles I had in the gourds for pre-built nest. After I raised the housing back up, I saw my martins go into two of the gourds that I had placed the hand warmers. Four martins went in one gourd and two in another.

This morning at 7:45, with temps in the 20's, my martins came out. They flew around for about five minutes but I did not see them catching any insects over the water or up high. They returned to the housing and just sat on the perch's with wings really drooping. I figured it was time to supplemental feed.

I went to the freezer and pulled out 150 frozen crickets. I let them thaw out for a few minutes and added salt and pepper to taste. ( :lol: Kidding -just making sure you are all still with me)

As I was walking outside to the pole with the crickets, I was hoping that at least one of the six martins I have was one of the ones that successfully supplemental fed for me last season. I just needed one to show the others what to do.

It only took about four flips and I had a female take off and grab the fifth one. The next flip, they were all after my offering.

I was glad I decided to supplemental feed as they went through about 120 of the 150 crickets. Thought it was interesting that I started feeding my six resident martins but by the time I finished, I had nine martins chasing crickets. Picked up three "freeloaders" from somewhere but was glad I was able to help them out also. If I don't see them being able to find any insects over the water later this morning, I will probably toss a few more crickets.

Was plugging some openings, putting cork in vents and adding warmers all overkill. I really don't know. I do know they were hungry this morning and it was going into the third bad day and fourth bad night. For all I know, these six adults might be all that is left of my 15 pair that I had last season. Not going to take a chance of loosing any of them due to negligence on my part.

My wife took a few pictues of me tossing the crickets. Sorry for the quality but she did the best she could. Here are a few pic's.





Licensed Bander
2015 - 14 Pair - fledged 68
2014 - Moved to Kansas - 7 Pair, 35 eggs, 28 fledged in first year
2010 Thru 2013 - Moved-Tried to start new colony
2009 - 46 pair, 217 eggs, 178 fledged
Donnie Hurdt MN
Posts: 1717
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2004 11:14 pm
Location: North Prairie, MN

Glad they took to your feeding them. :)
Two questions though. Is your Multipurpose pole leaning a bit,or does it just look that way in the pics and what are those owl guard looking rods under the eaves of that building nest to your housing?
PMCA member and Martin fanatic....
2011 A pair of subbies fledged three young but none returned in 2012 :-(
2015 One Pair of subbies came and stayed a few nits but got chased away by Bluebirds and Tree swallows. :-(
2017 0ne pair of subbies nested and fledged 4 young
2018 Tree Swallows AGAIN chased away any martins that wanted to nest :evil:
2019 Same old story................ :-(
The Olsons
Posts: 3200
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:57 pm
Location: North Padre Island, TX


Bless your heart for being so observant and prepared to keep your martins safe. I personally do not think it was overkill to plug the entrances hole, cork the vents and put hand warmers in the cavities. It was quick and great thinking on your part :lol: :lol: :lol:

It must be terrible to have your weather conditions with martins being back already, so I am happy to hear they caught on so quick taking the crickets you offered (even without salt and pepper. :wink: ). It is interesting to hear that you had 3 more "breakfast guests", that shows how smart martins are. Now, do not be surprised if you have more and more martins show up for the next "chow"....word travels fast about great service and is still the best form of advertisement :lol: :lol: :lol:

Wishing you and your martins the best to get through this nasty weather, and thank you for being such a great and dedicated landlord. Please keep us posted!!!!!

Love it or leave it~~~Astrid :-)
John Balga
Posts: 199
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 7:13 pm
Location: Essex, Essex County, Ontario
Martin Colony History: 2012-69 pairs at old residence
2015- 3 pair at new home colony
2016-6 pair at home colony-1 ASY FEMALE banded from Andy Troyer colony
2017-17 pair at home colony
2018-38 pair at home colony
2019-47 pair at home colony
2020-58 pair at home colony

Way to go Tim,
Your persistence and training from last year will save these six martins. These birds have a sixth sense when it comes to humans . They know who to trust and to who to turn to in a bad situation. If only all the martins were as co-operative in these situations. Congratulations! Tell your wife that she has captured some wonderful shots of a great landlord in action....
Posts: 586
Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:51 pm
Location: Bush, Louisiana

I'm glad your Martins are feeding. I know it must feel good to be able
to help them out when they are hungry and cold. I guess mine just aren't
hungry enough to eat crickets cause they still will not accept them from
me. Though by tomorrow the temps are supposed to be in the 60's.

I have a nestcam in my Northeast facing gourd and on the nights when it has been cold there are no Martins in it but on the nights when the weather is good, I have a pair that stays in it. I wonder if they are communal roosting on the cold nights in a different gourd? I suppose they are smarter than we think. :roll:
"Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap, yet your heavenly Father feeds them."
Joe Levins
Posts: 226
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 7:56 pm
Location: Alabama/Wetumpka

Good job Tim, I know you were thrilled the birds took the crickets. Must have the salt and pepper that made them so tasty. Nice looking setup and wonderful location.
Posts: 566
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 2:00 pm
Location: North AL

Way to go Tim! They'll never forget. I feed mine some each year, even if I don't have to, just to make sure they remember the drill and to train new ones. I don't think the trained ones ever forget how to catch flipped food. No need for Martins to get overly stressed when they can't feed.
Tim Mangan-Kansas
Posts: 1728
Joined: Wed Mar 15, 2006 7:25 am
Location: Kansas, Pittsburg
Martin Colony History: 2016 - 22 Pair


No, the pole is not leaning; I think my wife was. The rods you are referring to are owl guards for some gourds that I put up on the edge of my boat dock last season. It was basically an experiment on my part to see if martins would take to them. I had gourds mounted on aluminum rods where I could just slide the rods, and gourds, back to me to conduct nest checks if the event any martins took to them.

The experiment was a total success. I learned martins were not interested in housing that had a roof right on top of them. :evil: It was one of those, "Hey, I am still fairly new at this and I want to find out for myself." type of things.

Astrid, John and Jeanne:

It was a really good feeling while feeding them this morning and knowing they all made it through the night. I am just glad I had one adult back from last year who was use to supplemental feeding. It only takes one to get everyone else involved.

I will see how the rest of day goes, temperature wise, to see if I need to feed again. Our weather is suppose to start warming up tomorrow and hopefully I will see some more of "my" martins from last year show up. Astrid, if you are holding any of mine, send them on up. Looking out at the dock pole, I now have 7 males and two females. Steve K. is suppose to be sending me some females so they should arrive next week sometime.

I sure hope all other landlords with martins who got caught in this latest snow storm and cold weather are surviving okay.

Licensed Bander
2015 - 14 Pair - fledged 68
2014 - Moved to Kansas - 7 Pair, 35 eggs, 28 fledged in first year
2010 Thru 2013 - Moved-Tried to start new colony
2009 - 46 pair, 217 eggs, 178 fledged
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu May 31, 2007 2:24 pm
Location: Kansas

Great job,Tim!! :grin: :grin: I am sure they were all to happy to get a free and needed meal. Like you, I don't ever want to lose any martins if there is anything I can do about it. I waited long enough to get them that I don't want to be in that boat again.

My 2,000 crickets arrived yesterday and I put some out for the bluebirds. I think the Nuthatches ate them though before the bluebirds found them. I will put some more out.
Sandy - NC
Posts: 617
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 6:40 pm
Location: Rocky Mount, NC

Glad to hear that they have learned to feed. It will help you in the future as you will have teachers. Congrats and I like the pics.
Don't ever, ever give up. It will happen.

birdy girl
Posts: 1179
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

I really enjoyed your pictures. I also have a question. It looks like feeding pans attached to you multi-purpose pole. If they are feeding pans, will the martins eat from them? Just wondering since you were flipping crickets.
Tim Mangan-Kansas
Posts: 1728
Joined: Wed Mar 15, 2006 7:25 am
Location: Kansas, Pittsburg
Martin Colony History: 2016 - 22 Pair

Hi Birdy:

The two trays you refer to are for additional pine needles and oyster shells. I thought about putting some crickets in one of them but they were both full of snow and I guess I just didn't want to take the time to lower the housing, get the snow out and dry them out. I did put some left over crickets on a couple of the gourd porches which I later saw the martins eating. I am really hoping this is the last day I have to supplemental feed for this year but I recall it was bad around Easter last season.

Licensed Bander
2015 - 14 Pair - fledged 68
2014 - Moved to Kansas - 7 Pair, 35 eggs, 28 fledged in first year
2010 Thru 2013 - Moved-Tried to start new colony
2009 - 46 pair, 217 eggs, 178 fledged
Posts: 796
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:19 am
Location: Gladewater, Texas

I commend you Tim for feeding your Martins.

I tried feeding our Martins this morning but they just looked at me like "you poor dumb man", don't you know we can feed ourselves. We had plenty of snow here yesterday and this morning it was 29 degrees.

When they began scolding me, I knew I was wasteing my time, and that they were catching enough insects on their own.

Good Luck with your colony for 2008.
Matt F.
Posts: 3903
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Great photos Tim!

Thanks for sharing them!
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