Another killing May in PA

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Doug Martin - PA
Posts: 1938
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:47 am
Location: Pennsylvania/Fombell
Martin Colony History: First pair in 2009 after 28 years of trying. 3 pairs 2010, 17 pairs 2011 and 35-45 pairs since. Many additional colonies are now springing up around mine in an area once completely void of Martins. I offer 50 compartments at my site consisting of primarily Excluder II gourds on Gemini racks. Also a wooden T-14. I utilize electric fence type predator guards on the base of the poles. Supplemental feeding is crucial in maintaining my colony. I platform feed throughout the season as needed. My site tends to be a stop over point for additional birds as they migrate further north.

You better lower your housing in the northeast. After 3 days of no feed weather yesterday's all day rain at 40 degrees caused some deaths. Not as bad as last May but not very good.

I had a group of migrants come in a few days ago with wings already hanging. They did not supplemental feed as the others did. So I had some birds in great shape bringing in green leaves this morning while others had packed into a few gourds and a few were dead. Others flew out weakly.

I went through almost 10 lbs of freeze dried mealworms in 3 days and used most of my Nekton powder. I was feeding almost a hundred birds daily. Although a few have not made it. Most all my local birds are good. It is the migrating birds that do not supplemental feed that the toll is taken on. This happened last year as well when it snowed 3 days in mid May. I am guessing those to the north that do not supplemental feed will not have good numbers this year and some smaller colonies will be lost entirely.

Today is sunny but only in the low to mid 50s. Tomorrow a bit cooler. Then things will improve.

Doug
Supplemental feeding plays a major role in western Pennsylvania. Finally got my 1st pair in 2009 after 28 years of effort. 3 pairs in 2010. 17 pairs in 2011. 35 pairs and 150 young in 2012 & 2013. Plus a new 22 pair colony right down the road from me.
C.C.Martins
Posts: 1127
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- didnt know anything about martins, put up an all wrong house in 2016 and had two come by and inspect all the cavities. Left soon after not to return. Learned what i could on PMCA made adjustments and next year was successful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021:
Home colony: mix natural gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satelite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 gourds: PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mino castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021:
PMCA member

Sorry Doug,
Those migrants especially the young ones face a tough time, if they don't catch on can spell doom. Sounds like most of your colony would have been in jeopardy without the added food. Wish the others would have caught on.
Hope the weather improves for you and your birds.
Tom
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1932
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.

Hi Doug,
It is a rough going this time on year with the weather. It seems that we have not had a normal spring in years as far as temp go. I bought 20 pounds of crickets this year and I have already went through 10 pounds. I guess all we can do is keep up the good fight and try the best we can. Sorry to hear you lost a few.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
Hanover Bill
Posts: 627
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 3:10 pm
Location: Pennsylvania/Hanover Township
Martin Colony History: 2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72

Hi Doug; I was just getting ready to e-mail you to see if you have lost any birds. I lost "11" so far. Just noticed one on the ground this afternoon and figured I better do a better inspection. Found 2 more on the ground, 6 in gourds, and 2 in my T-14. All of this even though I have been feeding. You wonder if they are so beaten down from the migration that they are already too far gone to save. Undoubtedly my worse day ever as a landlord. I had a large number of birds and figured this would be my first year to hang out the "no vacancy" sign, but now I'm not so sure.

Best of wishes to you and all of the commenters for the rest of the season.

Bill.
Last edited by Hanover Bill on Mon May 10, 2021 5:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72
deancamp
Posts: 672
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

Sorry to hear, weather sure has taken it's toll this year. Glad you were able to save the birds you have trained. Good Luck going forward.
Jeff Dean
brent
Posts: 451
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:43 pm
Location: Raceland, Louisiana

My heart aches hearing this. I can relate having lost 9 this year to cold weather. I hope it improves for you and our feathered friends soon.
Brent
mwren
Posts: 142
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. My colony consists of three T-14's with 8 Troyer gourds attatched to each T-14, a Troyer gourd rack with 12 gourds, and another gourd rack with 18 Troyer gourds for a total of 96 nest cavities. I am having serious predation issues with hawks and owls and am experimenting with various hawk guards and "screens". Established successful supplemental feeding the last few seasons and have had a blast flipping mostly meal worms and some crickets. Faculty from Ohio University are using my colony as a research site to study parasites that target cavity nesting birds. In exchange for access to my bird trail nest boxes and martin housing, they are banding all birds involved in their study.

Guys, Not good to hear these updates of birds that just cannot survive this cold wet weather. I did not take my towers down today because things warmed up a bit yesterday afternoon and most of my birds were out searching for insects Monday afternoon. I flipped over 400 extra large , live meal worms to my home colony again today. The birds that are "my" birds are taking to the supplemental feeding in a frenzy! The ones I am worried about are the recent arrivals who just don't look to be in very good shape at all. They just do not have the strength to fight their way through the ASY's that have been here to compete to catch the flipped meal worms and crickets. After I do another round of feeding Tuesday morning I plan to take all five towers down to search compartments for dead birds and for seriously weakened birds that might need to be put in ICU and nursed back to better shape. I have my fingers crossed that the birds I observed this morning perching with my ASY's had enough strength to track down some insects this afternoon! I am so happy that the majority of the birds that I have really understand supplemental feeding via flipping live meal worms and crickets. It is really something to watch as the ASY's put on quite a show tracking and catching meal worms and crickets that hopefully will help them to survive. The colony is down over a pretty good hill approx. 400 yards from our house. My birds have taught themselves to watch for me on our outside decks flipping meal worms to bluebirds. The ASY martins understand this game, and they circle above me until I flip some worms in their direction. They are really amazing. Hopefully I will have good news to report tomorrow.

Hang in there and keep on flipping!

Bird
Mike "Bird" Wren
Doug Martin - PA
Posts: 1938
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:47 am
Location: Pennsylvania/Fombell
Martin Colony History: First pair in 2009 after 28 years of trying. 3 pairs 2010, 17 pairs 2011 and 35-45 pairs since. Many additional colonies are now springing up around mine in an area once completely void of Martins. I offer 50 compartments at my site consisting of primarily Excluder II gourds on Gemini racks. Also a wooden T-14. I utilize electric fence type predator guards on the base of the poles. Supplemental feeding is crucial in maintaining my colony. I platform feed throughout the season as needed. My site tends to be a stop over point for additional birds as they migrate further north.

It was interesting that where I found dead birds yesterday that the pairs are still in there today. These are definitely migrating birds that pack into cavities. I have also heard fighting sounds at dark.

Yesterday was almost 60 but with a cold north wind. There were no insects flying that I could see. Today even colder. I continue to feed.

Seems the folks to the north will see the effects of this prolonged cold spell.

Doug
Supplemental feeding plays a major role in western Pennsylvania. Finally got my 1st pair in 2009 after 28 years of effort. 3 pairs in 2010. 17 pairs in 2011. 35 pairs and 150 young in 2012 & 2013. Plus a new 22 pair colony right down the road from me.
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