Are your martins in path of Polar Vortex?

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Are your martins in path of Polar Vortex?

Postby Forum Admin » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:56 pm

Arctic cold, winds, and snow will hit parts of the midwest and northeast this weekend. Conditions could be deadly for martins, so check your weather forecast now, and prepare for several days of no feeding for martins. Temps below 50 make feeding difficult, but martins may feed if it's sunny and not windy or raining, snowing, etc. Martins sometimes feed in the 40s, again if it's sunny and not windy. Martins can probably survive 3 days without feeding but extreme cold may shorten survival period. If you find martins unable to fly, bring them inside, put in cardboard box, keep warm, quiet, covered. Do not handle excessively, do not use bird cages. ... l/56335323

It is likely too late to order crickets or mealworms for many, but check, you might be able to get overnight delivery. Other options include using scrambled eggs (if your martins accept them already), relying on the frozen crickets and mealworms you have stashed away, or going to local pet stores and buying live, dried, canned, etc, mealworms, crickets, and grasshoppers.

PMCA guides to feeding are here: ... l-feeding/ and on youtube: Read the pdf format articles at end of link for discussion of in cavity feeding, which may be a good option if your martins are not already trained to take tossed food, but try tossing too.

Heating—If you have unoccupied cavities, place a light bulb or hand warmers inside the cavity, making sure that the entrance is blocked so martins cannot enter. This will help heat the surrounding cavities. You can place handwarmers inside active cavities, too, if you completely cover them with nest material, so they don't spook the martins. Try to find 18 or 24 hour handwarmers, place in cavities in mid to late afternoon.

Roosting— Cold weather will also lead to "communal cavity roosting" by martins. (i.e., many birds will congregate in one nest cavity for warmth) During times of severe weather the bird closest to the entrance may die, preventing the other martins from leaving. Observe your colony site to make sure the entrances are not blocked. Check all entrances in the morning, don't disturb birds once they are roosting for the night.
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Posts: 1866
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

Re: Are your martins in path of Polar Vortex?

Postby ToyinPA » Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:17 pm

I have everything ready....just need some Martins :). Often my first back arrive during bad weather, so we have been checking constanly. Temps right now are 72 & partly sunny with a little breeze. However that is going to change later on tonight, as we're to get rain & T-storms, then the cold will move in Sunday.

FYI...put hand warmers in the houses no later than 1 hour before dark, so any Martins that get scared out have time to return before dark. I try to put them in a room below the one they chose, as heat rises.

2015 was a very bad winter for the Northeast. April 4th I had a ASY Male & Female arrive. Temp was 44 with a wind chill of 28. They arrived worn out & very hungry. I opened the door to great them & they flew right at me. I bundled up & went out to flip crickets. They took 15 crickets each before they got their fill. Had 2 days of good weather then several days of rain & cold followed. I had to flip crickets 3 times a day for several days in a row to keep them going.

Our weather in the Northeast can vary greatly, so any landlord should have everything at the ready to supplement feed your colony.

Good luck & stay warm,

Toy in PA
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BW Fowler
Posts: 154
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:01 pm
Location: TX/Buda

Re: Are your martins in path of Polar Vortex?

Postby BW Fowler » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:04 pm

Gotta hand it to all the landlords up North. Great job!

2009-2013 a few visitors
2014: 1 pair of SY love birds, 5 fledges
2015: 7 pair, 34 fledges
2016: 12 pair (full house), 54 fledges
2017: expand to 15 gourds - 14 pair, 71 fledges
2018: expand to 22 gourds

Posts: 1517
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:16 pm
Location: Olpe, KS
Martin Colony History: 21 year landlord, 13 at current residence..offering 8 racks and a homemade T-10 for 150 total cavities. 145 pair in 2016. Racks consist of 2 Deluxe 12's, AAA 16, Starburst 16, 2 K-18 Series, Super 24, Gemini and a T-8..Great hobby to be involved in..

Re: Are your martins in path of Polar Vortex?

Postby tonyg » Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:27 am

Earlier map models had it dipping into Ks, so I ordered 3,000 crickets...should have known to believe a weather dude :-( ...well at least I'm stocked up now... :)
21 Year landlord..8 Rack Systems for 2017 and my home built T-10 for a total of 150 cavities available....145 pair in 2016 ..SUPER COLONY!!!!PMCA member!!! Love You Bev... Fan of those St. Louis Cardinals!!!!!

Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:43 pm
Location: OH/Athens
Martin Colony History: I have had my martin colony on the dam of one of my ponds for nine years. The colony has grown each year, but I am now concentrating on helping friends and acquaintances who have shown interests in martins. We have helped 5 friends establish their own colonies in the last two years, with more to come this spring. My colony consists of two T-14's with 8 Troyer gourds attatched to each T-14, a Troyer gourd rack with 12 gourds, for a total of 56 nest cavities. I am having serious predation issues with hawks and owls and am experimenting with various hawk guards and "screens".

Re: Are your martins in path of Polar Vortex?

Postby mwren » Thu Apr 07, 2016 9:21 am

Very concerned about the weather system about to hit southeastern Ohio. I have my two Amish built T14 houses up with 4 new Troyer gourds hanging below each house for a total of 36 nest cavities all ready. I have 8 to 12 adult birds using my original house that tends to fill up first. These birds are desperately looking for insects all day long, and I hope they are finding some. I have crickets and meal worms and am going to try to do some supplemental feeding in the coming days. :-(
Mike "Bird" Wren

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