2 Dead adults - crescent entrances

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Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:57 pm
Location: Senoia, Ga

As I cleaned out my 32 Nature Line gourds this year, I found 2 dead adults in 2 different gourds. They had not made nests. The other 30 gourds had been occupied and had produced many fledglings. Last year, I changed all my gourds from round entrances to crescent entrances. I don't regret this decision because I was loosing more and more Martins to starlings. But I'm afraid that these 2 Martins got into the gourds with the new crescents but could not get out. Has anyone had this issue before? Could there be another reason these birds died?
D. Doll MN
Posts: 108
Joined: Sun May 08, 2005 11:05 am
Location: ST CLOUD MN
Martin Colony History: Formally from Willmar MN moved in 2015 and started new colony in 2019 i had 27 pair.

There is a very strong possibility your right about them not being able to get back out. Not sure what the Nature Line gourds are like or how true the enterances are from factory. I once wow some gourds at a Martin event and the entrences did vary on a couple of enterances not alowing some martins to get in. The other thing you can do is take something sharp or a file to the floor on the inside of the gourd. Make some deep scratches to give them extrat traction to help them push to get back out. It can't hurt.
Dick Doll
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:57 pm
Location: Senoia, Ga

thank you. we all hate to lose any of them!
Dave Duit
Posts: 1911
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

Unless the two birds were actually wedged (wing enytrapment), into the opening, their death may have been cause something unrelated to the cresent openings. Overall, cresent openings stop more predatprs than the round openings. The cresent should measure 1 3/16th inches high from middle of base of opening to middle top of cresent and be 3 inches wide at the base. The cresent shape should be off the floor about 1/8th, but this vairies with opinions of landlords. The corners at the bases should be slightly rounded.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
Posts: 3093
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

If they were not stuck but the wing it would seem unlikely that they could get into an SREH and not get out. If the opening are the normal size and weren't made smaller by mistake they are not restrictive enough to completely stop a martin from getting in or out. I'm not familiar with Nature Lines, what is the floor surface inside the gourd like compared to the porch floor. Sounds like you did not conduct nest checks during the season so it would be hard to guess why they actually died.
2021.................HOSP count-8
2020 Currently 42 nest, 110 babies, 64 eggs left to hatch(6-22-20) HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair last count 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional SY's stayed all summer but never paired/nested.
2016 1 pair fledged 4
2015 Visitors
2014 Visitors
2013 Moved 6 miles away, 1 pair fledged 2.
2012 30 pair fledged 100.
2011 12 pair (11 that nested), 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair, 21 eggs, 16 hatched, 14 fledged.
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2020 1:15 pm
Location: Lake Murray SC

This is my very 1st post on this PM Forum. I'm a newbie to being a PM Landlord. First year. I have no thoughts about why those adults didn't make it. No one wants to lose any birds, but it happens. If you do figure it out, please post. Good Luck with your 2021 Season!!
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:03 pm
Location: VA/Abingdon

This is another reason to do frequent nest checks. It would be much easier to formulate a reason for the death of these two without so much time between discovery. Fighting over mates often occurs inside cavities. extreme weather incidents, resulting in starvation due to lack of flying insects, that may have contributed are easier to be connected to the event. Martins will roost in large numbers in a cavity if necessary to conserve heat.
It is just a shot in the dark at this point.
Same is true with the young birds. Not all eggs will hatch and not all birds that hatch will successfully fledge. Without frequent nest checks its impossible to know for sure the success rate of your nesting pairs.
Have fun with your martins and do as much as you can to help them. You've got the main thing, a site that allows them to nest and raise young. Congratulations
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:57 pm
Location: Senoia, Ga

I appreciate the suggestions. I wonder if fighting in the gourds might be the cause. I didn't realize they can turn on each other so violently until I saw the video on this site showing the fight between a parent bird and an intruding adult!! WOW!! As to nest checks, I'm at a disadvantage there. I do not have "state of the art" housing! I have had my gourds for years and my structures are homemade. I have to climb up a ladder to get to my gourds and it can be pretty precarious! I clean them out before each season, I have snake guards (I have trapped MANY snakes over the years) and I have changed to crescents but I don't have other more sophisticated maintenance options. I tell myself that if the overwhelming majority of my 32 gourds produce happy families each year, I'm doing the best I can!! Thanks again for the responses.
Posts: 841
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:15 pm
Location: Plano, Texas
Martin Colony History: See Signature


It's probably a bit late to do this for this season but if you can convert your pole to a winch and pulley system you will enjoy Martening so much more. Use the time between now and the time your Martins leave to figure out what's best for your current setup. At the end of Summer and into the Fall you'll have plenty of time to make the conversion and be ready for next year.

Square poles two inches or bigger will be the best way to go.

I'm sorry if I stated the obvious just thinking out loud.

Good luck to you.

2016 - late to put up, many visitors
2017 - 1 pair, 3 fledged
2018- 2 pair, 12 fledged
2019 - 4 pair, 21 fledged
2020 - 15 pair, 67 fledged
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