Arrival dates - causes?

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
Spiderman
Posts: 778
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:19 am
Location: Gladewater, Texas

Ok I think I read most of this.....lol.

1st thing I notice and correct me if I'm wrong. The rack that is occupied first by the Martins is the one that is the highest elevation above ground level? When our Martins arrive they fight to be in the top row of the Gourd rack. As time goes by the lower layer is filled by birds arriving later. So the penthouse is valuable to Martins the higher the better.

I have three Gourd racks about 25' apart, laid out north to south, all 5' from the lake same height. Lake shoreline runs north to south.

Here the most valuable one is the north Gourd rack, when it is full. Martins will begin filling the next one and eventually the South Gourd rack will get some birds. It's crazy to me but has always been that way. They would rather be on the lower level of the north rack, than move to the upper level of the rack south of it.

2nd thing is Martins really dislike Starlings. They will not fight them because the Starlings will kill them. Starlings begin the nesting season a couple of weeks before the Martins arrive. So the Starlings have ownership of the racks that aren't managed no contest.

The Martins will sit on the perching rod with a Starling while I walk out there with a pellet rifle and shoot the Starling and never move, just watch the Starling fall to the ground. It's like they are baiting him to failure. If they don't fly the Starling won't either.
2008 - 33 PAIR - FLEDGED 96 YOUNG
2009 - 51 PAIR - FLEDGED 166 YOUNG
2010 - 45 PAIR - FLEDGED 146 YOUNG
2011 - 33 PAIR - 128 HATCHED, 97 FLEDGED
2012 - 37 PAIR - 119 HATCHED, 101 FLEDGED
Dave Reynolds
Posts: 1905
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:35 pm
Location: Little Hocking, Oh.
Martin Colony History: 2018 Success at my Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”.
2019 Success at my home Site "Little Hocking, Ohio".

Brad Biddle wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 7:48 pm
deancamp wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 11:11 am
Could it be individuals within a clony that have the drive to come back early and that competition pushes each other. ??? These things intrigue me as well. I like to know why.
Yes that's supposed to be the reason that the earliest ones come back early, but that drive would be common in each colony. My earliest ones arrive on average nearly a month earlier than his do. That leads me to suspect that the birds see these colonies (4 within a half mile) as one large functioning unit. I've never heard that hypothesized before, but I as of now I can't come up with another theory.
..
.

.... Brad ... You may have something there... I think the Martins see the four sites as one large colony.. Humans would look and see four individual sites.. I think the Martins look at it as one large family with many houses, instead of four individual sites with individual rooms... Just my opinion .... Have a great season...

Dave
Home Site “Little Hocking, Ohio”
2010 / 2018 -- Lots of Visitors
2019 — 1 Pair, 5 Eggs, 5 Babies, 5 fledged. :wink:
2020 — 1 Pair, 4 Eggs, 4 Babies, 4 fledged. :wink:
2021 — Waiting on March 2021

Satellite Site “Oxbow Golf Course”
2018 -- 15 Pair, 58 Eggs, 38 Hatched and 36 Fledged :wink:
2019 — 26 Pair, 128 Eggs, 99 Babies and 97 Fledged. :wink:
2020 — 30 Pair, 156 Eggs, 137 Babies and 137 Fledged. :wink:
2021 — Waiting on March 2021

PMCA Member
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Spiderman wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 11:12 pm

1st thing I notice and correct me if I'm wrong. The rack that is occupied first by the Martins is the one that is the highest elevation above ground level?


2nd thing is Martins really dislike Starlings. They will not fight them because the Starlings will kill them. Starlings begin the nesting season a couple of weeks before the Martins arrive. So the Starlings have ownership of the racks that aren't managed no contest.
Yes, Martins like the highest elevation. All 3 racks at the barn, the racks at the next door neighbor and the racks with the guy half a mile up the road, are all on the same ridge line that runs through the community. If my neighbors colony hadn't fallen into disrepair with many of his tunnels falling out of the gourds allowing Starlings to nest, his colony would likely fill up before my racks behind my house. Of the 4 locations, the racks behind my house are in the worst place. Not tree wise, but elevation wise. They aren't in a hole, but they're lower in elevation, relative to the fields around them, than the others. There are 6 farm ponds varying from 1/2 acre up to 3 acres in size between the racks at the barn and the neighbor 1/2 mile away, so water access plays no part of it. There is no tree issues at any site. The ONLY differences are the neighbor 1/2 mile away uses natural gourds with crescent holes cut directly into them. He doesn't use huge gourds, but they aren't small either. I'd say they'd average 9" in diameter.

I may have posted this earlier in the thread, I can't remember, but my next farm over neighbor who's colony fell into disrepair asked me about gourds this past summer. He wanted some just like mine, so a month or so ago, when I ordered more gourds for my colony to expand, I ordered his too. He just got them up this weekend. When I came home from church a little while ago, his racks were covered with Starlings. They're gonna try to get in, and hopefully none will be able to. They've been trying mine for a month or more and have finally given up. They'll give up on his soon and hopefully he can get some Martins back. I think last year he may still have had a pair or two of Martins but I'm not certain of that.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

Dave Reynolds wrote:
Sun Mar 15, 2020 7:41 am

.... Brad ... You may have something there... I think the Martins see the four sites as one large colony.. Humans would look and see four individual sites.. I think the Martins look at it as one large family with many houses, instead of four individual sites with individual rooms... Just my opinion .... Have a great season...

Dave
Could be Dave. We'll probably never know for sure, unless someone decides to do a banding study.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
deancamp
Posts: 428
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

Brad, I really have no good argument for the idea of the 4 sites being thought of as one colony. If this is true, it is more important for the Martin to return to the colony it was successful nesting at rather than the particular housing unit it was successful at. I had focused on the housing unit and it's exact location being the determining factor. That would be neat to see a banding study take place. Have you ever tried to contact the Audubon Society about a bander in your area?
Brad Biddle
Posts: 523
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:22 pm
Location: Marshall County AL

No I haven't. The only bander that I've ever been in contact with was a gentleman who has since passed away. I don't remember his name, as it was sometime ago. He came and banded a Roufus hummingbird that we had at a feeder. I did talk to him about banding Martins and he told me that they he didn't band any because they were so common.
Martin landlord since 2003. Currently offering 132 plastic gourds with tunnels and all SREH.
TravisF
Posts: 22
Joined: Sun May 26, 2019 4:37 pm
Location: Missouri

So, I just posted about my success this year and I think a big part of that success has to do with this post from Brad.

Last year was my first year with martins, and I had four pairs. This year, I made a huge jump to 31 pairs with 27 pairs successfully nesting with 35 available cavities. I have a neighbor probably 600 or 700 yards from me who has several "tower" style house with 24 compartments in each house. I'm not sure what kind they are, but they're pretty popular as I see them everywhere around here. They're hexagon shaped and painted white and green. Anyhow, it's an old established colony. However, the setup is horrible for martins. There are maple trees ranging from 40 to 60 feet tall within feet of the housing, and only one small clear flyway to the housing. They have round holes and do no sparrow or starling control. Also, they have not been converted to the larger compartments. Even with all this, they've always had a good number of martins. I don't know have many young they fledge, but I know I've seen a lot of adult martins there year after year.

Well, last week I stopped and helped them get some calves back in the lot that had gotten out. So I decided to inquire about his martins and how's he's doing this year compared to other years. His response......horrible. He said they've consistently had anywhere from 12 to 20 pairs for the last 15 years. Last year he had 13 pairs. This year.....three. And, these three pairs didn't show up until mid June.

To be honest, I already knew that as I honestly hadn't seen a single martin there in my daily trips to and from the other farms. I just wanted to hear it from the source and compare to what they've had in years past. I honestly think I pulled all his returning ASY martins to my more favorable site. I have 11 ASY pairs this year (or I at least have 11 ASY males). Assuming all my male martins from last year made it back, I picked up 7 ASY males from somewhere else.

I think this is another scenario that supports Brad's theory how martins in a certain "broad" area act as one large colony, forming the smaller colonies that we call our own within this larger "mega" colony.

I already have plans to add more cavities to my site next year, but it would be interesting to see if he'd get more martins back next year if I didn't. I should have much higher numbers of ASY birds returning, so it stands to reason that there would be less room for returning SY birds to occupy, therefore more SY birds spilling over to his housing.

Just a thought!
Post Reply