Guns N' Roses Cold November Rain in February! Yuk

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TerryW
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:02 pm
Location: Nashville, Arkansas

I hate this part of winter, and it must be hard on early arriving male martins bent on being first for the reasons that motivate adult male martins being the first.

So, I don't see posts about people tossing food up in the air as enticement in order to get some food in the craw of early arrivals during cold spells, like people attempted some years ago. Do feeding platforms with dead mealy worms actually work? I thought martins would only eat on the wing and that the bugs had to appear to be alive and flying for a martin to come for them.
C.C.Martins
Posts: 802
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 sucessful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged.
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged.
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
Home colony: mix natural gourds, 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
PMCA member

Me too, rough on the birds. Been a rain like mist and in the 50s here...one lone male braved it looking for food. Took the opportunity to put crickets on the porches for them yesterday though.
Quite a few do feed the birds by flicking crickets, meal worms or egg just takes a bit for them to catch on. My birds never caught on...flicked crickets all over the place. Some have their birds trained to use platform feeders, with success. I know of one who puts both meal worms and crickets on the feeder. No problems they picked them right off.
Tom
PMCA member, believer in SREH and predator protection.
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 643
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

C.C.,
Question: did the person whose birds go to the feeding tray have to flick crickets in the air before they learned to feed from the tray? We flicked some with a plastic spoon several years ago. It took a long time but after the first martin went after one the others followed. Last year during that awful cold spell my husband tried to flick some but he was so cold he gave up when they weren’t interested. We also put a tray up last year and only saw one martin one time take a meal worm from it.
Sharon
C.C.Martins
Posts: 802
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 sucessful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged.
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged.
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
Home colony: mix natural gourds, 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
PMCA member

I dont know sharon! Its mr barrows colony...good question. I can ask him. I flicked and flicked, when i went through the first batch and the others ended up on the neighbors bbq pit i stopped.
Once one learns the others follow seems like.
Tom
PMCA member, believer in SREH and predator protection.
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 643
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

Tell him hello for us. Doubt he would remember but we got to band baby martins with him years ago. Then he stopped at our house to take a look at our then very small colony.
We learned so much that day. We were only into our second year I believe.
TerryW
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:02 pm
Location: Nashville, Arkansas

It would be nice to hear from John Barrow or Louise Chambers or others on exactly how this is accomplished.

I mean...how do you keep live crickets on a feeding platform, even crickets with their hind legs pulled off can still crawl around for a while and get off the platform, and they don't live for very long after their jumping legs are pulled off.

Sorry to get clinical about this, but common sense tells me this may need a LOT of splainin on just how cold weather supplemental feeding is accomplished successfully. Its been my experience that some adult male martins who get here too soon because they are so sexually charged, simply don't live to see another season.
daveh
Posts: 653
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:40 am
Location: Kingsville Mo.

I have a feeder station next to my houses and gourds. I supply it with dried meal worms, oyster shell, chicken egg shell, and pine straw. I usually rehydrate the meal worms so that they don't blow away. I never had to toss food in the air to attract them. They just came because they are inquisitive. They want to know what's there. I keep the station open all season long. I think most birds learn to use it . The ones that don't may perish from the weather. For me its pretty easy. Just keep it full.

Dave
PMCA member
TerryW
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:02 pm
Location: Nashville, Arkansas

That makes sense, DaveH. That takes dedication, but keeping something out all season will insure returning birds the next year will know there are goodies in it.

Leaving meal worms out for me fed other species, especially bluebirds which love hanging around martin housing when martins are not present.

Waiting until they come during cold weather is probably a bit too late. Others?
Last edited by TerryW on Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
Forum Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 313
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Location: Erie, PA

For tips on how to provide supplemental food and dealing with inclement weather please visit https://www.purplemartin.org/purple-mar ... l-feeding/ There are articles on supplemental feeding as links at the bottom of that page that go more in-depth.

Platform feeding takes the least energy for the birds, however that can take time for some birds to recognize the provisions as food. It can differ with each colony site and could also depend on the amount of time since they last fed. It's best to use freeze-dried or previously frozen mealworms and crickets for platform, or in-cavity feeding. When the PMCA started out supplemental feeding tossing, or flicking crickets is what worked for us, once that first martin got the hang of it. We then transitioned over to platform feeding.

It's helpful to have a source for mealworms or crickets readily available. Dried mealworms are great to have on hand; live mealworms and crickets can be found your local pet store or through companies like Reptile Food, Grubco or Fluker Farms.

During times of cold weather it's helpful to keep a close eye on your colony site as it can lead to "communal cavity roosting" by martins. (i.e., many birds will congregate in one nest cavity for warmth) During times of severe weather the bird closest to the entrance may die, preventing the other martins from leaving. Observe your colony site to make sure the entrances are not blocked.
Forum Administrator
Purple Martin Conservation Association - Please consider becoming a member of the PMCA.
TerryW
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:02 pm
Location: Nashville, Arkansas

Forum Admin wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:04 am
See Above Admin Post
So it's pretty much the same as it used to be, no breakthrough easier method. Thank you, sir!
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 643
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

We may have to move our feeder station. Right now it’s in between both our poles, maybe 10-12 feet from each one. If we move it close to one and those birds start using it, maybe the birds from the other one will notice, fly over and check it out.
Yesterday I ordered 500 1” crickets from Fluker’s Farm. We’ll freeze them once they arrive. Then soak them to soften as needed.
Last year we had an unusually cold spell and we did find several martins communal cavity roosting. All seemed to be fine but they were really packed in there. If I remember correctly there were about twelve. I hate it when they return and almost immediately we get a cold spell. Tonight is predicted to be 30 deg. In our town but it’s always 2-3 degrees colder where we live.
C.C.Martins
Posts: 802
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 sucessful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged.
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged.
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
Home colony: mix natural gourds, 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
PMCA member

Terry, sharon,
Sorry for the delayed response, wont repeat the admin suggestions...sounds solid. One suggestion from mr barrow on the topic was to add live meal worms mixed with thawed crickets to the tray so they see the movement and get drawn in. Additionally, the height of activity and thus training would be best when the chicks are a bit older. He said you can flick the crickets near the tray, or over it so they zero in.
Lastly sharon he remembers the time spent at your site well! Gives a big hello! Got my annual martin fix in watching his birds return...love it.
Tom
Tom
PMCA member, believer in SREH and predator protection.
John Barrow
Posts: 944
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:12 pm
Location: Corpus Christi / Sandia , Texas

So it's pretty much the same as it used to be, no breakthrough easier method. Thank you, sir!
Top
Hey Terry W, one who I would call one of the top innovators of martin housing ever. When I gave a talk at PMCA in 2007 on making natural gourds in to bird houses, I dedicated the talk to Terry. He is the person who innovated the tunnel entrance, both straight in or coming through a 45 degree tube of plastic. His ideas far preceded those who later claimed to have discovered them. He produced the different SREH entrances for many; later selling his business to Sandy Bunn. I remember when he gave me the new entrance plate to modify the original Troyer HG that no martin could enter because it was molded at the top of the gourd. Except for the SY male that I had that spent 6 or 7 minutes trying to get in or out. That led to the re-design by Troyer dropping the entrance from the top to the middle and adding a porch. TW, a hall of fame landlord!!
Yes, Terry, Supplemental feeding is the same as it used to be---the ability to get one martin, preferably ASY, in the sight of others, to see food you have placed out (or fling'd out), and out of hunger, or the need to feed nestlings, moves in and devours it. At which point the game hopefully is on.
I freeze all insects I buy on delivery. My preference is the zophoba (super) worm that thrives in heat but will die and turn black in moderate cold. I freeze these immediately upon receipt and they retain their color even after thawing. I also buy some crickets (larger ones) and some mealworms (also larger). If you want to add live insects to thawed offerings, to project movement, I recommend the mealworms. Adding live mealworms to egg pieces cut in a similar strip is a good way to acquaint martins to egg supp. food.
Successful feeding depends on hungry martins. Fling food high above and in front of martins. Fling food above or toward a roof, an installed feeding tray, or some surface where they will see it land and may eventually retrieve it (ideally in the sight of others). If you have a feeding tray or similar feeding surface, I have found a great way to get the colony's attention is to feed when nestlings are getting older and the parent martins are struggling to keep them fed. In every such situation I have encountered and started adding food to a tray, at least one pair of martins will begin feeding their nestlings from there and other adult pairs in the colony will take notice. And they will remember.
~~TEAMED WITH A MARTIN GODDESS~~

Member/Mentor-PMCA. I do regular nestchecks and participate in PROJECT MARTINWATCH!! Coordinated 3 geolocator studies-2009, 2010 & 2013. State and Fed licensed bander (retired Jan., 2020)
John Barrow
Posts: 944
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:12 pm
Location: Corpus Christi / Sandia , Texas

Duplicate post
Last edited by John Barrow on Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
~~TEAMED WITH A MARTIN GODDESS~~

Member/Mentor-PMCA. I do regular nestchecks and participate in PROJECT MARTINWATCH!! Coordinated 3 geolocator studies-2009, 2010 & 2013. State and Fed licensed bander (retired Jan., 2020)
John Barrow
Posts: 944
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:12 pm
Location: Corpus Christi / Sandia , Texas

Tell him hello for us. Doubt he would remember but we got to band baby martins with him years ago. Then he stopped at our house to take a look at our then very small colony.
Sharon, I certainly do remember that day. Driving out west of Georgetown to your home. Two story (of tall) with the houses in back and overlooking a lake facing toward your neighbors. I have followed your progress though scout reports and posts through the years, and am grateful we spent time together watching your colony. Best wishes, 2020!!
~~TEAMED WITH A MARTIN GODDESS~~

Member/Mentor-PMCA. I do regular nestchecks and participate in PROJECT MARTINWATCH!! Coordinated 3 geolocator studies-2009, 2010 & 2013. State and Fed licensed bander (retired Jan., 2020)
TerryW
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:02 pm
Location: Nashville, Arkansas

Thanks, John Barrow, for your dissertation on how to supplemental feed, and thanks for the complements. That was a heady time, and the forum was great fun. I miss all the guys and gals who contributed back then. Much can also be said for the healthy debate that occurred.

First year back with it. Hope the martin gods don't have to punish me for leaving them so abruptly back then by making me wait a couple of years to get some!

DaveH, John Barrow and our administrator pretty much support each other, and the immediate freezing tip of crickets and mealy worms so they retain their natural color...that's smart! One could conclude from the postings that you really need to do supplemental feeding training of your martins during the good times, and a key may be to attempt to win them over to eating egg and mealy worms during the regular season so they will know what that stuff is when they come in cold weather. I know I have unsuccessfully tried to coax them to take flipped food during old weather, and I have no stomach for it...too darn cold for me too.
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2927
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

The other thing for the OP to remember is that the martins have to be hungry to take supplemental feeding the first time. So unless you have had a couple days with no feeding opportunities then they might not be hungry enough to take your offerings. Once they learn and take it the first time they will be more likely to take it sooner in the future. I have had martins for 10 years or so and last year was the first year I felt the need to toss crickets. it was the third day with no food and after about the 5th-10th toss they started taking them. Before I knew it they were all taking it and some others from nearby joined in too. Good to know it was not that hard to do and I likely saved the majority of my returning ASY's.
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.
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 643
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

John,
Very nice to receive your reply. Over the years that lake has brought us much joy. A few years ago a pair of black bellied whistling ducks laid eggs near the water. They had twelve darling ducklings. After studying up on them we plus four other neighbors put up duck houses and now it is not unusual to see 200-300 or more whistlers visiting. We have also had a bald eagle visit a few times and more often an osprey. Lots of different varieties of ducks also winter here. Plus a great blue heron whose job it seems is to chase off a giant egret. There is almost always something interesting to watch. And, of course, both the martins and barn swallows take a dip in the water.
The rancher on the other side of the lake put up a martin house and after striking up a friendship with him, we became his mentor. We helped him save his martins by instructing him to use netting after his hot wire system malfunctioned. He was skeptical at first that the netting would work but within a couple of days a rat snake got caught in it. Was he ever surprised 😲.
We have had the opportunity to mentor others in the neighborhood. I put notices on Next Door occasionally about the martins and usually someone replies asking a question.
There was that time in the beginning when we lost our only clutch of babies to a rat snake who got by our baffle. I was so upset I was ready to give it up. But several people on this forum encouraged us to keep at it. That was about fifteen years ago. And you know what we’ve discovered? We will never be experts because every year brings a new challenge and we learn something new.
We truly enjoyed meeting you and learning how you band birds. Both you and Louise have been very helpful to many on this forum over the years. Thank you.
Sharon
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