All of them are gone

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I had back to back business trips and have not checked the nest for about 2 weeks.
Yesterday I noticed no one was around and the same for today. Went to check on the my 2 houses and was horrified !! I found 4 dead females, no males anywhere, about 10 unhatched eggs and 8 dead babies. I have also noticed the house across the creek from us and they have no birds around either and pretty sure they have the same. This is my 3rd year and all of my pairs are either dead or missing. Even Pretty Boy is missing, my first martin. I am kinda in shock and not sure what happened and what I should do now. I cleaned out the houses but not sure to put them back up or just leave them down. I live in Keller, Texas and was wondering if anyone in this area has had bird deaths. What do I do now... What a huge loss

Emil Pampell-Tx
Posts: 6743
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 1:26 pm
Location: Tx, Richmond (SW of Houston)
Martin Colony History: First started in Gretna, La in 1969 with a small homemade house, have had martins ever since at 2 different homes in Texas

Could this be weather related, too hot & dry, and no food? Did the females look very poor with the breastbone sticking out? Where the birds partly eaten? How hot was it?

Seems strange to me, and I have no idea.

I would take down the house, clean it up, and try again next year. Its too late to get martins this year.
PMCA Member, 250 gourds, 6 poles, 2traps

We have not had any big storms like we have had in the past and the heat is about average for this time in texas. None of them looked like they were injured, like from fighting and they were not thin looking. I thought it could be pesticide or something, but I have barn swallows on the front porch and they are doing fine. I have not found any other dead birds like doves, finches, etc... it only seems to be my martins and the ones across the creek.


My guess would be heat. I lost one chick this past week that had hatched earlier this week. I also have an ASY female that started laying eggs last week, that won't/can't stay incubating for long periods. I also lost an PM that should fledge this week to an SY male today. Not happy, but it's nature I guess.


Could heat destroy the entire colony ?? I know it gets hot in Texas, but it is no worse that past summers. I did not find any males it seemed to be the females that were found dead. All of them inside the nest.
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.

Hello ging. (So, how hot and "dry" is it?) Seriously, if the insect population is drying up - then the martins can't survive. The females would probably refuse to leave their nests. Emil's suggestion to check the carcasses of the dead adult females was a good one. A starving PM will have a starkly protuding breast bone with little or no meat on it. This is a good way to determine if starvation was the cause of death.

The Dallas/Fort Worth area has always been a heavily saturated area for Purple Martins. This is an indication that they usually successfully raise their young in your area.

I can not think of a any similar incident in my history with Purple Martins. See if you can find out if there has been any spraying of pesticides in your immediate area. Is there farm land near you that may have been sprayed by airplane? Could your area have been sprayed for mosquitos?

This is one of those things that leaves us all scratching our heads and wondering what happened? Predators don't leave their prey behind. The fact these birds and eggs were still there rules out any form of predation.

Maybe someone else will have an idea. I just don't know...

I know I don't like it!

The temp has been between 80-100, and 100 only on a couple of days. We have had rain and I see lots of dflys and bflys all around. The females looked healthy with no damage except being dead. :( They are building something in a field next to us, but it is not right next to my house. I guess the run down would be.

Everyone is gone
Found only dead females, eggs and dead babys.
No males found dead or seen
The house across the creek has no martins as well
My Barn Swallows are fine and no other dead birds found in the yard.

I am crushed and sad. I don't know if I will get any next year or not and anything I can do to keep them safe if I ever get anymore I will. I guess I will never know what happened !
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