A lot of fighting

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I have five pair nesting, between eight gourds and a 12 apartment house, this is good for me, this is my third year and each year I seem to get a few more. What my question is; I seem to have much more fighting than other years. They land on the house and suddenly there is a vicious fight, they almost seem locked together in combat. I have not noticed as much disagreement in past years; could there be a good reason for this or are these just more feisty birds.

I also noticed this year when gathering nesting material they would bring nesting material to one hole, move it to another and move it again to another; or at other times they just discard it and throw it to the ground. What strange behavior. Is this normal?

I am trying to learn all I can about these wonderful birds.

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.

Hi Jayne.

Normal - what's normal? Trying to figure out why Purple Martins do what Purple Martins do - now there's the challenge. I think just about anything you observe a PM doing over and over is fairly normal... :lol:

I believe the fighting seen at the beginning of the season if over nest cavities. Many PM males will defend more than one cavity and any PM (other than his mate or his young) entering what he considers to be his territory will be immediately evicted. This usually requires a fight of some fashion.

Then, when fledging begins, the fights start up again - fledglings are innocent, naive, little creatures and frequently land in all the wrong places. Their parents inevitably manage to get them back into their natal cavity - though I don't see how...

The nesting material issue: I put nesting material on a tray elevated in the middle of my gourd racks. When the tray is emptied, the PMs will steal nesting material out of each others unguarded nests. I put nesting material in each cavity at the beginning of the season - the PMs will steal nesting material from an unoccupied gourd until it is completely empty. Stealing nest material from an occupied nest will cause a "fight". Throwing nesting material out is common, too. Sometimes a male will build a nest to entice a female - when she accepts and moves in, she will rearrange the furniture to her liking... :wink:

Take good care of your little colony. I know there aren't that many PMs up your way. Best wishes to you for many successful seasons. Enjoy...

Hi Jayne,
We only have one pair. Can you send some our way? :)
Posts: 1480
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 12:30 pm
Location: Missouri/Lone Jack
Martin Colony History: Active since 2003

Could there be floaters at your place visiting and causing trouble?

I've found the more you have, the more they fight. Rarely is it any more than letting another male he's gotten too close to his family. I have always found it odd that as busy as every male is, no matter how many young they have, they find time to poke their head in the other guys hole-and if he gets caught, the fight is on.
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