1 Pair with eggs in two gourds

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Ok got my first pair of martins ASY male and a SY female. She has laid three eggs two in one gourd and one in the next gourd. She spends most of here time with the 2 eggs but often will sit for an hour or two a day on the single egg. Is this common are all eggs getting enough time from here and should I move the single egg in with the two.
John Miller
Posts: 4771
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO


If you are really sure this is not a second pair, I think I'd move the single egg -- if all three were laid in last few days (would not want the two to hatch several days ahead.)

One really shouldn't handle eggs because oil from our hands can get on the shell and block oxygen to the embryo. So, wash your fingers really well first.

I'm guessing this inexperienced SY female just got a little mixed up.

Now, if someone has a different opinion, I won't be offended. I've honestly never heard of this -- but if 'yer right about the mom bird, she surely can't brood two in one and one in the other.

John Miller,
St. Louis
Posts: 2216
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 1:58 pm
Location: TX/Alvin
Martin Colony History: Erected 1st house in 1997. Birds were checking it out before Mike got down from the ladder. Six cavities had a little colony 1st year. Grown to 88 cavities all gourds with near 100% occupancy. Most important factor for success is rain = bugs.

Maybe she just doesn't want to keep all her eggs in one basket - uh, nest.

Seriously, I agree with John. If you are certain there is not a second pair - then move the single egg in with the other two. A single female splitting her incubation time between two nests may cause both nests to fail.

Good luck and let us know what happens...
Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4342
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Hey Brent,

I have had that same thing happen several times, including twice this season. In my Lone Star Alamo house, the female of a highly dominant pair that controlled three compartments on one side laid her five eggs as follows: three eggs in the top, one in the middle and one at the bottom. I moved all eggs to the top comparment and cleaned out the nests in the middle and bottom. Cleaning out the nests is optional in my opinion. It worked and she started full time incubating in the top compartment. All eggs have hatched. In the same house, another female of a highly dominant pair laid two eggs in the bottom compartment and two eggs in the top one. She spent time in both nests. So I moved the top two eggs to the bottom compartment and cleaned out the nest in the top. This worked, too, and she incubated all four and they have hatched. In both these cases, the females would move around and incubate eggs at random. This will most likely result in the embryos eventually dying because of inconsistent application of the mother's body heat to the eggs. I have also had females do the same in the gourds and I applied the same process.

This laying of eggs in a variety of nests by the same female is relatively rare but typically occurs in very dominant pairs that control multiple nest cavities. That is one of the negative aspects of this domination behavior other than preventing more martins from nesting in a house/gourd rack.

So, I would move all the eggs to one location. Good luck.

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