A very disheartening year -

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Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:51 pm
Location: South Georgia

This is my second year with two Martin houses. Last year, one was hit by a mid size rat snake. that martin’s left that house but the other house carried on although only 5 remained.

This year, i had at least 30 birds between the two houses. Mid to late June, all left the one house, which i call the red roof inn and 2 rooms were still occupied in the other house, the econolodge. The next day about 5 came back to the red roof but wouldn’t land; i did not see them again. At the econolodge, one room left that day and there was still one room remaining. After three days i decided to look in the red roof inn...there were 9 dead, feathered, with one appearing to be an adult, three eggs and one dead on the ground...how utterly sad!!

After the last room left in the econolodge, i waited a few days, for a few did come back, spend the night and left again, to check that house out. What i found were 27 eggs!!!! And one dead baby, feathered. I was horrified to say the least! I live in South Georgia on the florida line. They usually show up in February. I have to snake guards and though i saw snakes around i did not see nor hear any attack the houses. The rooms were all well preserved, not destroyed or anything. I did not experience any infestations in the nests.....there are hawks and owls but my experience is that they are chased away.

CAn anyone shed some light on this??? Every day this week i have seen anywhere from 4-8 martins return and fly around the houses but rarely land. They are here in the am and then the pm. Thank you for any wisdom you can share because after this i don’t really want to be a landlord anymore!! Even though I love their presence here. Thanks. G
4th Gen Martin Fan
Posts: 1497
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:19 pm
Location: TN/Collierville
Martin Colony History: I have been exposed to purple martin sounds in utero when my mother went out to get my father away from his martin colony.
I played around the martin colony every summer and watched as my father maintained his colony. In the late 50's until the 70's he did not notice European Starlings in south Texas.
When old enough, I helped maintain his colony. My primary task was eliminating English House Sparrows with a 1956 Benjamin 317 .177 air rifle.
When I settled into my own home, I started my first colony with an original Trio Castle and Trio Grandpa. When I moved again, I did not put up any martin houses. Frustration with European Starlings in the Southeast US was overwhelming.
Found PMCA Forum and learned about modern enlarged compartments and SREHs.
Inherited my father's last martin house, a Trio Grandma, modified it to modern specifications and have had good results since then.

Sorry for your losses. Sounds like you have a good location with as many martins were present at your housing.
Sounds like you are going to need significant upgrades to your housing. Expand to double compartments so hawks and owls cannot just reach into the single compartments. Make sure you have Starling Resistant Entrance Hole (SREH) for every entrance. Improve your pole predator guards to keep snakes and climbing mammals from raiding your houses.
You currently have death trap housing and the martins know it. They have abandoned your site.
With appropriate changes, you can have a successful martin colony next year.
Firm believer in HOSP/EUST Control, Enlarged Compartments, SREHs, Pole Predator Guards, Owl/Hawk Guards, Mite/Parasite Control, Housing Insulation, and Vents for Compartment Cooling.
PMCA Member.
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:51 pm
Location: South Georgia

Thanks Mark. In the red roof inn, i have 4-double housing or suites as i call them, where i found in one 3 dead. i can’t recall how the other’s faired mostly because i was agasp! Seems like they made two nests, one in each compartment. I haven’t seen sparrows nor starlings, yet. I did witness a Martin stealing a hatchling, after i had replaced one hatchling dangling from the porch! I was mowing which greatly disturbed the houses when i noticed a little pink “guy” hanging from the balcony. I replaced him and as i watched the birds return, i saw one steal a hatchling from another room down the hall! It was maybe 2wks or so when the majority of the colony left.

I do have snake guards but i don’t use the netting because i am not into killing snakes.
I can’t imagine that the little ones couldn’t have fledged on their own....nor why the adult was dead. It looked like someone fumigated it. If a predator got in there, wouldn’t there have been more of a mess? I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it all. I am here most of the time and the houses are right in front of my tiny house and studio. I see and hear all day except at night. I guess I’ll never really know what happened hence why folks put cameras up.

I think you are right that if i continue i need to upgrade the houses...to the ritz! Lol. Has anyone else had this kind of experience?
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2020 8:47 am
Location: Elgin Texas

We found about a dozen dead or dying beds at the base of our flagpole plastic gourd nest and several more dead in the nests. About a dozen stil in nest. No idea of what happened. Any thoughts?
Ernie Bogart
Posts: 1247
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- Visitors.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021- 28 pair. 118 fledged
Home colony: mix natural, super and excluder gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mini castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021: 10 pair, 30 fledged
PMCA member

Sorry for the lost martins. Sounds horrible, been a tough year for some of us. I completely understand about snakes, I think they are great. Grew up with pythons, a 9.5 foot boa constrictor, had california king snakes, hog nosed snakes, a beautiful indigo snake list goes on...drove my mom nuts. Caught many rattle snakes, even a horned viper in Saudi. All unharmed. I use snake netting on all my poles.
Ill be blunt. Your choice is snake netting or a predator guard they cannot circumvent, up or take the martin house down, that simple. Not putting up an effective predator guard is an invitation to disaster. And the martins will be the victim every time.
Its a tough way of life...I avoid the term hobby...martins are wonderful but it can be brutal at times.
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
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