Alberta Nest Check Report

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Bob Buskas
Posts: 600
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2003 8:08 pm
Location: Wetaskiwin Alberta, Canada

Hi folks, well after last years disastrous season losing so many nestlings to the cold weather, I thought I would post what the results are this year. I was very worried after losing so many clutches to the cold that the parents would not return to my colony sites to nest again this year. The results are mixed. Many of the old established colony sites had the greatest losses last year simply because of timing. The earlier nesters lost there young in the first week of July at about 10 days old. Then many of the subbies lost their clutches after a cold snap in late July. As a result, only the adults that nested slightly later in the mid range nested successfully. This season at my colony, I had a good return of ASY birds simply because I fed them supplemental food last year. Meal worms and Srambled egg, My colony has stayed about the same (35-40 pair). Many others that had losses are reporting that their colony numbers are way down this season. Many smaller colony numbers are up with ASY pairs. It appears that the older birds that had nested successfully previously returned to there colonies to nest again, but the ones that nested for their first time last year and lost there clutches moved to a new site this year. So most of the older larger colonies are down a bit, but on the bright side many smaller colonies are up in numbers and many new colony sites have been started with adult pairs. This is good in my opinion.
The subadult return is very low not to my surprise, as most of them were lost right here in Alberta last year, but our weather has been good so far this year and there is lots of bugs. The clutch sizes are very big this year in the Adults, most have 6 eggs and many with 7. Hatching has just begun in Alberta, so if the weather stays warm we can fledge many. Here at my colony the nesting numbers are slightly down from last year but I have more eggs laid than I ever have at my 10 year old colony site, I have 174 eggs from 33 pair so far and a few pair to lay eggs yet. My fingers are crossed for a good recovery year.
Bob Buskas, Alberta, Canada (The Northern Sky's Colony) Supplimental feeding is the key during bad weather, but you must train them to feed ahead of time.
John Miller
Posts: 4778
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Hi Bob

I find these "far northwest" colonies to be fascinating. How long have these colonies existed? According to USGA breeding bird surveys, I believe your area has had an increase in population, while U.S. states like Michigan have declined, and I have to wonder what factors are involved.

John Miller,
St. Louis, Mo
Bob Buskas
Posts: 600
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2003 8:08 pm
Location: Wetaskiwin Alberta, Canada

John, there has been Martins in Alberta long before I was born in 1957. Many of our Grand parents talked about housing Martins years ago (1920's & 30's), then many people sort of forgot about them for a number of years. But for the last 10 to 15 years many have picked up the Martin hobby again and with good housing and management they have made a great recovery. We have long summer days up here, and on an average summer they do very well. Last summer was our coldest July on record. Hope we don't get another summer like that for a long time.
Bob Buskas, Alberta, Canada (The Northern Sky's Colony) Supplimental feeding is the key during bad weather, but you must train them to feed ahead of time.
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