Difficult to Tally Losses

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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

After suffering substantial losses due to the weather this season, one is left to wonder exactly how many birds were lost as I'm sure some just drop out of the air and never make it back to the housing. I have found several just laying on the ground, apparently just dropping in mid flight, so we can be assured that is happening away from the sight also. Add those to the ones that are found dead in compartments and the tally mounts.

I suppose we will get a better idea of losses when egg laying starts and we find out how many active nests we have. These cold, wet springs have got to be taking a substantial toll on Martin numbers.

Hanover Bill.
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
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 Bill,
Very sorry to hear about your lost martins. It would be great if we could have a mild spring without tons of rain and colder than normal temps. I feel for you. Keep up the good fight and try not to lose heart.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
ToyinPA
Posts: 2166
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.

Yes Bill these cold wet springs are very hard on the martins. They can't feed or stay warm.

It's hard to count how many you really have until nest building & egg laying takes place. Some will arrive, stay a day to a few plus days then leave & move on. They are often just stopping over for a rest & to refuel. I've had many over the years do that.

With the lack of insects, in many areas, refueling may no longer be an option for those who's genes are telling them to push on to their nesting site. As they try they get weaker & weaker, add in cold wet weather & they have no chance to make it. By day 3 they start to lose muscle mass, which is required not only to fly, but to keep warm. They use up a lot of muscle flying trying to find food & a mate.

Many northern states have just gone thru 9 straight days or more of below normal temps, rain & very windy days, all non-food finding days. Pesticides & climate changes have caused a ticking time bomb for many species of birds that require insects as their main source of food. It's not only happening here it's happening all over the world. European countries have also lost many species of migrating, insect eating birds.
Many are also not surviving fall migration for the same reasons, lack of insects.

All we can do it try to supplement feed & hope they accept it. It takes time & patience & yes it isn't cheap. Each adult bird requires 40 crickets (3/4-1 inch in size) per day just to maintain muscle mass. The cost adds up quickly. Eggs are a cheap alternative, but can also cause loose bowel issues, hence the birds can dehydrate. Some eggs are OK, but they require insects. Being a martin landlord can be an expensive hobby. It can be very depressing as you count your losses, but so rewarding for those that make it.

Hang in there Bill & help those you can.
PMCA Member
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

Toy & Dave; Thanks for the words of encouragement. The losses make me more determined to help the ones I can, so it's full speed ahead for the rest of the season.
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
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