Hand Warmers

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rrmartins
Posts: 1435
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

I’ve heard of people using hand warmers in the cavity our early birds stay in. How do you use them exactly?
2020
T14
7 pair
25 fledged
ToyinPA
Posts: 2137
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

rrmartins wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 1:55 pm
I’ve heard of people using hand warmers in the cavity our early birds stay in. How do you use them exactly?
I only use them if temps are to drop to freezing or below. 10 hour hand warmers will do fine, but 12 hour are even better, but harder to find. They are best if placed in the housing about an hour before dark. Open the package. Shake it good to activate it & then place it in the back or side of the cavity. Another option is to keep lower levels of houses closed until more arrive. Then you can put the hand warmers in the bottom levels, close off the entrance, which lets the heat flow upwards. Remove the hand warmer the next day.

Best wishes for a great season.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
rrmartins
Posts: 1435
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

Ok, thank you. Next three days here will be very cold at night.
2020
T14
7 pair
25 fledged
Mudflap
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:07 am
Location: SE Ohio
Martin Colony History: 2011: Set up 16 room S&K house.
2012: nothing.
2013: lookers but no takers.
2014: lookers but no takers.
2015: 3 pair nested, 7 fledged.
2016: second year: S&K house is now an 8 room house and added a separate pole with eight Troyer Vertical Gourds. 13 pair nested, 50 fledged.
2017: third year: S&K house is now a 6 room house (blocked attic access). Same Troyer gourds.

We tried this last spring but it was a bust. Please come back and let us know how your experiment works out.
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 648
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

rrmartins,
We’ve already used them once this year when the temps dropped to freezing. It’s looking like starting tomorrow night it will be in the 20’s for three nights in a row. Our crazy TX weather :roll:
We have gourds and use two “up to 24 hours” hand warmers inside, one on each side. We’ll put some in tomorrow afternoon and replace each afternoon. Hopefully the birds will stay nice and warm.
Good luck.
phldave
Posts: 514
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:44 pm
Location: Iowa/Pleasant Hill
Martin Colony History: Started trying in 2012 and still trying

I just ordered some hand warmers. I don’t want to get caught without any like last year. I had a group stop at my place during an April snow storm last year. I checked several stores in they area and they were all out for the season. The PM’s road it out alright by packing into a few compartments, but none stayed at my place either, they all migrated on in about a week. I’m going to be ready this year.
Dave
2012 late start
2013 nothing yet, lots a lookers
2014 Bust again
2015 Bust again
2016 Bust again
2017 Bust again
2018 April 14 a group joined me, but moved on after a week
2019 Had SY male seriously check me out but didn't stay
rrmartins
Posts: 1435
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

I plan on putting them in tomorrow afternoon as well. Guess I will put tape on the side vents, to keep the draft out some.
2020
T14
7 pair
25 fledged
rrmartins
Posts: 1435
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

My martins were afraid of wood shavings, don’t think I’ll be putting anything in their cavities. I thought for sure I would’ve been able to help them out. Oh well
2020
T14
7 pair
25 fledged
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 648
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

(Guess I will put tape on the side vents, to keep the draft out some.)

Absolutely, plug up any open vents.
rrmartins
Posts: 1435
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

Funny, I just opened my phone and saw your response. They just now decided the wood shavings were good. They came out and went into it and that vent is closed. I don’t want to open that door now on the T14, afraid I’ll flush them out, guess they’ll be ok in there huddled up with each other.
2020
T14
7 pair
25 fledged
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 648
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

rrmartins,
My Hubby is going to put our hand warmers in about 3:00. We have several martins already staying in their gourds and new ones looking for a place to hole up this afternoon. It’s been funny to watch the newbies when they go into a gourd that already has someone in it. I watch waiting for them to get kicked out and it doesn’t take long :grin:. Anyway they will fly out when he lowers the poles but will return soon after. I wouldn’t worry about flushing them out. If you put the warmers in this afternoon while it’s still light outside they will return.
Good to hear yours went in with the wood shavings. We always prepare each gourd with aspen bedding before the martins arrive. A lot of people order pine needles and use. We never have. If we find the aspen gets damp, we replace it with fresh. They usually knock most of it out when nest building begins and bring in oak leaves and twigs. But at least we know we’ve provided something warm for them to snuggle in while the weather is so iffy.
rrmartins
Posts: 1435
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

I’m very leery about spooking them away from the spot they like, it faces south, so the north wind doesn’t blow in. I open my T14 up as they show up, to deter rat birds from setting up camp, I was able to trap sixty two of the little rats last year.

Not sure if I should make them come out, I think they’re warm now, with the vent closed, big pile of wood shaving, and three in the back huddled up, I think they’ll make it.
2020
T14
7 pair
25 fledged
Larry Kronemeyer
Posts: 494
Joined: Mon May 22, 2006 5:27 pm
Location: Illinois/Millstadt

rrmartins
That wooden T-14 offers excellent protection from the cold. Here in Illinois, our T-14 has seen many early martins through cold and snow. We do put handwarmers under the pine needles, usually late afternoon. We also put in a small pile of mealworms inside, up in front, not in the way of the entrance.
Spent handwarmers need to come out and be replaced the next day if possible. Most birds aren't bothered by the old warmer, however once I had a fastidious female that was determined to toss out an old one. I saw the old warmer in the doorway and lowered the house to remove it before it blocked the door. We've used many, many handwarmers over the years and that seemed to be an isolated incident. But it can happen. Don't let that possibility stop anyone from using warmers, that bit of warmth can make a difference in survival. Just monitor the houses for problems. I would guess if you're concerned enough to be reading this, you are already keeping watch and trying to help them out.

Larry and Judy
Larry and Judy Kronemeyer
est. 1999
1-12 compartment Trendsetter and 4 gourds(crescents)
1 T-14 and 4 gourds (crescents)
12 gourd rack (crescents)
Member PMCA
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 648
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

After three nights of temperatures in the 20’s with wind chill, we lost four martins. Hubby put hand warmers and dried meal worms in each afternoon or we probably would have lost more. This morning he noticed a lot of bedding that had accumulated in the entrance of one and fearing it might be blocked checked it. He found ten martins in that one gourd! They all flew out. Good thing he checked because it was blocked. All the other gourds were OK. I don’t know for sure how many martins we had before this but several have shown up starting in early February. More arrived when it got so cold looking for a place to hole up.
Our temperatures are warming today and no more freeze predicted in the short term forecast. By Saturday it may hit the 80’s. It is sunny today and already in the 40’s with a predicted high in the 50’s. Hopefully they can begin recovering.
So thankful this is over. Gives me an appreciation of what all you folks up north go through.
Sharon
Archer
Posts: 761
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:09 pm
Location: Manitoba/Altona
Martin Colony History: six pair in 2014, have grown to 52 pairs in 2017.

I lose very few and I am up in the Great White North(Canada) A good feeding program is key in keeping them alive. If you can get food into them, you can keep them alive. I don't use any supplemental heat. Just lots of scrambled eggs and Wood and Styrafoam housing. Having them trained to take feed is key.
2011- first year trying, a few visitors.
2012-One ASY pair, raised two young, lots of subby visitors. So thankfull.
2013-daily subby visits.
2014-Six SY pairs
2015-18 pair, 83 fledglings
2016-36 pair, 147 fledglings
2017-52 pairs, 192 fledglings.
2018-60 pair, 246 fledglings.
2019-59 pair, 238 fledglings.
2020-62 pair.
rrmartins
Posts: 1435
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

I haven’t seen our three we had, might have died trying to feed yesterday, so now we have no birds, :(.
2020
T14
7 pair
25 fledged
rrmartins
Posts: 1435
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

Well, just lowered my house and it’s empty, guess Mother Nature knows best. :|
2020
T14
7 pair
25 fledged
paule
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:06 pm
Location: Central Iowa
Martin Colony History: 5 Modified Trios 10 Gourds and 1 B&B
2020 29 Pair 109 Fledged
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

Sharon - Central TX wrote:
Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:02 pm
So thankful this is over. Gives me an appreciation of what all you folks up north go through.
Sharon
Sharon congrats on doing a good job and thank you! Some of those birds could end up at our colony. Many of the birds I supply heat and food for are traveling north of me. I'm no scientist but common sense tells me if no birds survive south of me, I see no birds. I have seen birds before that needed no training to feed. I can assume someone possibly south of us trained them as they continue to head north. I usually wait and see to install electric heaters to houses. As I type this there are still six foot drifts under the houses. I decided to install them. As far as heat packs, I usually use them when I see the chicks are in trouble. Many years ago I lost the entire colony due to a cold April. Took seven years to get another pair. I now try to cover all bases.
Keep up the good work
Paule
Project MartinWatch participants and supplemental feeding is provided. I also add heat to housing when needed.
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 648
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

Paule, thank you for the encouragement. We have been landlords for about fifteen years now and in all those years never had temps so cold for so long. One night, yes, but then it warms up again. After all this is South Central Texas :grin:. So this was basically a new experience. We managed to help a late nest of three last year all the way through July into August with temps 106 degrees and higher. Normally ours are all gone the first part of July due to the heat. The parents, SY’s, stuck with them even though all the other martins had left for the roost. We were so proud of the awesome job they did. The babies fledged successfully and as I recall at the earliest possible fledge age. Every single year I end the season saying we learned something new. This year we started our learning early.
Today my husband put up a B&B for the first time and this evening a martin flew right to it and began eating like he was used to it. Apparently he learned somewhere else too. Maybe the others will learn from him.
Here’s wishing you warm weather and no snow by the time the birds that migrate north get there. We’ll try to do our part to help them do just that.
Thanks again.
rrmartins
Posts: 1435
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

Had my three martins return last night, guess they made it!!!
2020
T14
7 pair
25 fledged
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