Subbies tearing it up

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C.C.Martins
Posts: 2915
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- Visitors.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021- 28 pair. 118 fledged
2022- 33 pair. 151 fledged
2023- 33 pair. 165 fledged
2024- 40 pair. 185 fledged
HOSP: 66. Starlings: 30
Home colony: mix natural, super, Troyer and excluder gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 40 PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mini castle with troyer tunnels and enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021: 10 pair, 30 fledged
2022: 11 pair, 35 fledged
2023: 18 pair, 101 fledged
2024: 39 pair, 181 fledged
PMCA member

Well, found a dead chick under the gourds. Must have been dragged and dropped today, freshly dead. 5 days old. Thats 6 chicks I attribute to subbies. Maybe more, ill check.
There are three males ganging up on the adults. Think this chick came from a lower gourd, subbies were really after that one, intimidated the male and female both...had 6 chicks Sunday suspect 5 or less. Buried him under the gourds, seemed appropriate. These subbies suck. Just venting. But they suck.
Not much I can do...no room to add gourds. Good news is the remaining chicks will get more food.
A good house sparrow is a dead house sparrow.
jhcox
Posts: 760
Joined: Thu May 26, 2016 9:23 am
Location: tennesse
Martin Colony History: Started colony in 2014. 0 pairs
2015 0 pairs
2016 0 pairs
2017 0 pairs but visitors
2018 1 pair fledged 5
2019 10 pair
2020 25 pair
2021 42 Pair
2022 60 Pair
2023 72 Pair

I hate to hear that CC, but like I said on a post earlier today, it’s part of the game the circle life. There’s not much we can do about it. Gotta have SY ‘s to make ASY ‘s. I lost a large number of fledglings last year to hawks can’t be under the racks 24 seven. I can do is focus on the ones that survive And increase the total population. Wish you the best.
C.C.Martins
Posts: 2915
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- Visitors.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021- 28 pair. 118 fledged
2022- 33 pair. 151 fledged
2023- 33 pair. 165 fledged
2024- 40 pair. 185 fledged
HOSP: 66. Starlings: 30
Home colony: mix natural, super, Troyer and excluder gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 40 PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mini castle with troyer tunnels and enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021: 10 pair, 30 fledged
2022: 11 pair, 35 fledged
2023: 18 pair, 101 fledged
2024: 39 pair, 181 fledged
PMCA member

You are correct, hate to see them turn on each other though. Those SYs will be back next year for another round...as ASYs too true. All part of it; elation, frustration, and more elation.
A good house sparrow is a dead house sparrow.
Phil01
Posts: 223
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2020 6:42 pm
Location: Fernandina Beach FL
Martin Colony History: 34 Cavities offered.
24 unit gourd rack with Troyer Horizontal and Vertical Gourds. Sunset Inn aluminum house with 4 Troyer Horizontal Gourds.

2020- 1 pair, 4 eggs, fledged 3
2021- 3 pair, 15 eggs, fledged 8
2022- 5 pair, 26 eggs, fledged 21
2023- 10 pair, 53 eggs, fledged 27

PMCA Member

Ugh, sorry to hear that Tom! Vent away…. Yep, somebody needs to tell these subbies they’re supposed to be on the same team…. I’m sure they don’t care though. I hope they lighten up on those chicks for you. Or better yet, find a mate..
Phil
PMCA member
Fernandina Beach, FL
Dave Duit
Posts: 2094
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2023, 81 pair with 350 fledged youngsters. 106 total cavities available, 82 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 Iowa Purple Martin Organization on Facebook. Emails send to [email protected]. Subject line include Iowa Purple Martin.

I feel for you CC Martin. If it isn't subbies making things difficult for the colony, it is hawks and owls menacing the martins and putting all the martins on edge. I love some parts of being a landlord, but the bad things pull at your heart strings. Keep in mind that in the big picture, you are doing a great service for the martins by providing the best possible housing and care.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
C.C.Martins
Posts: 2915
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- Visitors.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021- 28 pair. 118 fledged
2022- 33 pair. 151 fledged
2023- 33 pair. 165 fledged
2024- 40 pair. 185 fledged
HOSP: 66. Starlings: 30
Home colony: mix natural, super, Troyer and excluder gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 40 PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mini castle with troyer tunnels and enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021: 10 pair, 30 fledged
2022: 11 pair, 35 fledged
2023: 18 pair, 101 fledged
2024: 39 pair, 181 fledged
PMCA member

Thanks guys,
Phil, wish so too...2 miles away have plenty of room!!!! Ah well, wishfull thinking. Found one more today. Little guy, hope that's it.
Dave,
Wow, hope they (and you) get through it. Both day and night menace. Sorry to hear that.
Its funny how you can watch them for a bit and see the unease. Thanks for the perspective, could be worse. Like the rest of us I tend to get wound up when it comes to these guys.
A good house sparrow is a dead house sparrow.
Martintown33
Posts: 1049
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:21 pm
Location: Laplace,La
Martin Colony History: Colony started in 1998. 2 s&k modified houses and gourd rack

That does suck Tom.. has to be tough to witness that… but not really anything you can do..
Rob
PMCA member
Laplace, La
G Saner
Posts: 232
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:37 pm
Location: TX/Kerrville
Martin Colony History: Fort Worth, TX (1967-1976), The Colony, TX (1981-1985), Carrollton, TX (1986-2013), Kerrville, TX (2015-present).

Two SuperGourd poles (12 gourds on each) at River Point Assisted Living Center.

Hello Tom,

I had a nest of 7 go down to 2 babies. The next-door gourd went from 5 to 3. This occurred in only 4 days. I am not finding babies on the ground, but I suspect bachelor second year males. Since the colony is offsite, I am not there enough to visually confirm.

All 24 gourds have active nests this year. I think this is the curse of being successful. In the last 5 years, only two gourds have been empty. My goal is to push SY males out into new colonies, so I won't add more gourds.

The colony is protected against snakes, raccoons, owls, sparrows and starlings but there is no defense against these rascals.
G Saner
C.C.Martins
Posts: 2915
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- Visitors.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021- 28 pair. 118 fledged
2022- 33 pair. 151 fledged
2023- 33 pair. 165 fledged
2024- 40 pair. 185 fledged
HOSP: 66. Starlings: 30
Home colony: mix natural, super, Troyer and excluder gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 40 PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mini castle with troyer tunnels and enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021: 10 pair, 30 fledged
2022: 11 pair, 35 fledged
2023: 18 pair, 101 fledged
2024: 39 pair, 181 fledged
PMCA member

Hi Gary,
Thats quite alot, if there's a silver lining, the survivors will be fat and happy. suspect your right, iv seen some unwanted intrusions but it doesn't last long and now they are guarding their homes. The subbie body language tells on them, they look guilty before going in...hesitate, look all over, try to act like "nothing to see here." Ill add no more gourds here either.
Weird season, mix of just laid eggs and some with 10 day old chicks...could work out, a runt is in with a nest of 6 today ill finish my nest checks and see if I can move him, perhaps if all goes well into the ravaged nest.
Sounds like a good season on your end, this rain has been wonderful.
A good house sparrow is a dead house sparrow.
Martintown33
Posts: 1049
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:21 pm
Location: Laplace,La
Martin Colony History: Colony started in 1998. 2 s&k modified houses and gourd rack

I’m starting to have the same issue. 1 baby missing from 2 different nests, today during nest checks. Reading y’all’s posts about the SY males, this season, leads me to the same conclusion … I’ve never had an issue with subbies killing and removing babies before. Seems strange that so many landlords are reporting this problem, this season.. coincidentally, many landlords, as well as myself, have also reported record or near record occupancy rates. Seems to me , that this isn’t a coincidence… less available compartments, leading to more aggressive subbies.. agree Tom, I’ve noticed the parents have started protective measures…. One always stays in the compartment, while their mate is hunting… when that one returns, then the other comes out to fetch food for the babies, then the cycle continues.. definitely seems to indicate they are protecting from subbie attacks.. I saw a subbie doing the “ guilty/suspicious” behavior today, peering in, looking around to see who’s watching, peering in, tail tucked down.. . man that scares me when I see that. I know theyre up to no good.. he kept peering in, then the asy male who was inside, had enough , stuck his head out and made the subbie leave.. finding no dead babies on the ground here either. They just disappeared between nest checks…
Rob
PMCA member
Laplace, La
brent
Posts: 1091
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:43 pm
Location: Raceland, Louisiana

Same here. I lost one chick, just disappeared, and rescued two that were brought out of the nest and left on the porch or near the entrance. It was SYs. Had the parent birds behave the same as described, very protective. I still think the loss of all those eggs early this season was the work of SYs. It would be interesting to hear from PMCA researchers as to the behavior of these young birds. And, why do they arrive so much later than the ASYs? Brent
Brent
Phil01
Posts: 223
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2020 6:42 pm
Location: Fernandina Beach FL
Martin Colony History: 34 Cavities offered.
24 unit gourd rack with Troyer Horizontal and Vertical Gourds. Sunset Inn aluminum house with 4 Troyer Horizontal Gourds.

2020- 1 pair, 4 eggs, fledged 3
2021- 3 pair, 15 eggs, fledged 8
2022- 5 pair, 26 eggs, fledged 21
2023- 10 pair, 53 eggs, fledged 27

PMCA Member

Tom, I have the same mix here. I have birds in pretty much all stages. I have a nest due to fledge in 8 days, many hatchlings, eggs that haven’t hatched, and three nests still laying as of Thursday. It also appears I still have subbies pairing up and many singles. I’ve been watching nest building in some form since the end of March.. lol
This season I have the most subbies I’ve ever had at this site. So far I haven’t had the issues you guys have been. Not to say it isn’t coming… I have 23 active nests so far out of 34 leaving extra space. I think Rob has a good point that you guys are at or near capacity forcing the subbies to be more aggressive.
Phil
PMCA member
Fernandina Beach, FL
Martintown33
Posts: 1049
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:21 pm
Location: Laplace,La
Martin Colony History: Colony started in 1998. 2 s&k modified houses and gourd rack

Agree Brent, with all the stories and evidence coming in, your missing eggs were obviously the work of subbies. Along with reported increased occupancy rates, I’m wondering if an increasing ratio of males to females could be adding to the more aggressive SY males issues. I don’t have any definitive numbers but from my observations in the last couple of seasons, there seems to be more males than females. We protect our martins from hawks, owls, ground predators and parasites, but now seems like the biggest threat is coming from within. From their own kind. Man, I don’t see an answer for this..
Rob
PMCA member
Laplace, La
C.C.Martins
Posts: 2915
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- Visitors.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021- 28 pair. 118 fledged
2022- 33 pair. 151 fledged
2023- 33 pair. 165 fledged
2024- 40 pair. 185 fledged
HOSP: 66. Starlings: 30
Home colony: mix natural, super, Troyer and excluder gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 40 PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mini castle with troyer tunnels and enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021: 10 pair, 30 fledged
2022: 11 pair, 35 fledged
2023: 18 pair, 101 fledged
2024: 39 pair, 181 fledged
PMCA member

Phil, I wonder if/when the adults from the oldest nest will take their fledges away, the subbies claim the cavity? They seem to play house (as I call it) when away from the colony teaching them to be martins but we are quite a few weeks away from that, I can hope.
I think now the subbie female subbies have pretty much left, now its the males. 5 or 6 of them. At the preserve, have some single subbie males occupying gourds. No females for them.

Rob,
It is frustrating, the one ASY who claimed two gourds has eggs now (boy did they wait), yet he won't give the other gourd up. Iv been at capacity for a few years, perhaps as the colony ages, not so much pure numbers...wonder if the subadult males are fixated on a certain female. Also the natural and excluder gourds are deep, they can get in but drag a chick out seems difficult, nests of 5 and 6 chicks seem fine.
All part of it, hard to turn your head away, put part of it.
A good house sparrow is a dead house sparrow.
Phil01
Posts: 223
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2020 6:42 pm
Location: Fernandina Beach FL
Martin Colony History: 34 Cavities offered.
24 unit gourd rack with Troyer Horizontal and Vertical Gourds. Sunset Inn aluminum house with 4 Troyer Horizontal Gourds.

2020- 1 pair, 4 eggs, fledged 3
2021- 3 pair, 15 eggs, fledged 8
2022- 5 pair, 26 eggs, fledged 21
2023- 10 pair, 53 eggs, fledged 27

PMCA Member

Tom, yes it will be very interesting to see what happens when that oldest nest fledges…. Here they come back for several nights before the parents and babies leave for good.. Hopefully the parents will keep the SY’s in check till they leave.
I also have an ASY male that won’t give up the last gourd under the house without eggs. His nest is my 2nd oldest and will fledge 5 days after the 1st nest. Good news is that he has forced the SY’s up to the house and I have 3 nests in there with eggs now. I would have been happy to get one nest in the house this year since it’s the first year since replacement. He helped me get 3… lol
Let us know what happens when that oldest nest fledges, very interesting.
Phil
PMCA member
Fernandina Beach, FL
WillyPete
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat May 28, 2022 3:43 pm
Location: NE Arkansas

I am glad you posted this thread! Just a few minutes ago, I found one of my dogs playing with a dead chick, and I thought it was a robin because I have found Robin egg shell fragments under that tree. When I went to check the Martin houses my other dog sniffed something and started to roll in it too. I have lost two females This year, and I never would’ve suspected subadult martens as the culprit, but now I am starting to wonder…
C.C.Martins
Posts: 2915
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- Visitors.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021- 28 pair. 118 fledged
2022- 33 pair. 151 fledged
2023- 33 pair. 165 fledged
2024- 40 pair. 185 fledged
HOSP: 66. Starlings: 30
Home colony: mix natural, super, Troyer and excluder gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 40 PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mini castle with troyer tunnels and enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021: 10 pair, 30 fledged
2022: 11 pair, 35 fledged
2023: 18 pair, 101 fledged
2024: 39 pair, 181 fledged
PMCA member

WillyPete wrote:
Tue May 21, 2024 7:07 pm
I am glad you posted this thread! Just a few minutes ago, I found one of my dogs playing with a dead chick, and I thought it was a robin because I have found Robin egg shell fragments under that tree. When I went to check the Martin houses my other dog sniffed something and started to roll in it too. I have lost two females This year, and I never would’ve suspected subadult martens as the culprit, but now I am starting to wonder…
WillyPete,
It could very well be. Sorry about those chicks. Sparrows are likely to peck a chick, seems like. Iv never actually seen the act, just the aftermath. Their behavior is aggressive, its the drive to reproduce I suppose. If they can't harass the adults out, they will go for the chicks.
Just watch the subbies close, not much we can do. Maybe if your lucky, you will find them in time.
Glad this thread helped!
Hope you have a good season,
Tom
A good house sparrow is a dead house sparrow.
birdman in buckhead
Posts: 169
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:47 am
Location: Small Town Buckhead, GA (not ATL Buckhead)
Martin Colony History: 2018: 1 pair, 5 fledged
2019: 3 pairs, 10 fledged
2020: 3 pairs, 13 fledged
2021: 13 pairs, 46 fledged
2022: 22 pairs, 89 fledged
2023: 20 pairs, 85 fledged

Bad news today in my colony. First, the door to a house unit with 5 chicks inside due to fledge any day had been forced open. One dead chick was stuck in the half open door. The other 4 chicks and the parent birds were gone. I'm thinking an owl or redtail hawk are to blame. I don't think a cooper's hawk could have opened the door, but suppose it's possible. This had to happen early today or last night.

Second, while the house was down for investigation of the open door, I smelled something dead. Inside of a gourd hanging from the house I found 4 dead chicks - also due to fledge at any time. Everything was good in the gourd 5 days ago during the last nest check. At that time there were 5 chicks. Then 3 days ago I saw an SY male enter the gourd. The mother bird arrived about 1 minute later and ran off the intruder. All I can think is the SY male killed the chicks, because there is no other possible explanation. The 5th chick must have fledged or the SY male killed it and carried it off. I'm hoping it fledged. ASY males have been giving the SY male hell for the past week, so I assume it is doing other bad things.

QUESTION: There is another gourd hanging from the house with 6 chicks due to fledge in a week or so. The parent birds are still feeding the chicks small amounts. I haven't seen an SY male enter the gourd, but I can't watch the colony all of the time, so maybe one has. Should I try to force the chicks to fledge before they do on their own, but in the correct time period, trying to save them from another SY death attack? Or should I just allow nature to take its course and hope for the best? FYI - There are many other gourds with chicks, so it's not like the house gourd is the only target for a rogue SY male.
GEAUX TIGERS!

Cheers!
Terry
C.C.Martins
Posts: 2915
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- Visitors.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021- 28 pair. 118 fledged
2022- 33 pair. 151 fledged
2023- 33 pair. 165 fledged
2024- 40 pair. 185 fledged
HOSP: 66. Starlings: 30
Home colony: mix natural, super, Troyer and excluder gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 40 PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mini castle with troyer tunnels and enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021: 10 pair, 30 fledged
2022: 11 pair, 35 fledged
2023: 18 pair, 101 fledged
2024: 39 pair, 181 fledged
PMCA member

Wow Terry thats some bad news, good lord. Yes id suspect an owl or hawk. Man, sorry about that. I cringe when I see a subbie lurking and then go in to a nest with chicks. Little we can do. Iv gone out and walked right up to them to get it to go, but its a rare occurrence I see it.
As far as those chicks in the gourd, let them care for them...id not try to force it. They may surprise you. Hard to watch though, takes the fun right out of it.
We have a fledge who has not left the gourd rack. Been days now. His or her wings are drooping now, and it begs from any adult that comes by. It tried to get in a gourd but the chicks there rebuffed it. Its not gonna make it. If I find it on the ground, I can feed it but even then it still won't have any skills.
The elation of their arrival, choosing homes, seeing eggs is sometimes watered down by times like yours.
Tom
A good house sparrow is a dead house sparrow.
Martintown33
Posts: 1049
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:21 pm
Location: Laplace,La
Martin Colony History: Colony started in 1998. 2 s&k modified houses and gourd rack

Man , terry and Tom.. very sorry to hear this… those are hard to witness and deal with.. tough deal..
Rob
PMCA member
Laplace, La
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