Purple Martins Breed in Natrona Heights, PA in 2011 after 40 Year Absence

Ken Kostka
American Swallow Conservancy

” ‘I wouldn’t ask too much of her,’ I ventured. ”You can’t repeat the past.’
 ‘Can’t repeat the past?’ he cried incredulously. ‘Why of course you can!’
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.”
-The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald. 1925.

Synopsis: In 2011, for the first time in close to 40 years, a pair of Purple Martins bred successfully in the Birdville section of Natrona Heights, PA. This site was a typical suburban lot in marginal habitat. Using a combination of the Social Attraction and Forced Dispersal techniques, I was successful in attracting one breeding pair to my backyard.  This subadult pair successfully fledged 4 healthy nestlings, with many more martins visiting throughout the season. Several non-breeding subadult males were also present on most days and it was not unusual for 7 or 8 martins to be in attendance. I saw as many as a dozen martins on several occasions, and approximately 20 once or twice. I have included dates with key events below, and discussed or elaborated on what I felt were interesting or significant observations at my “one-pair colony” on Painter Avenue. Following this discussion section is my 2011 Daily Purple Martin Journal which includes totals for supplemental feeding events, recruitment events, as well as other interesting observations. [Addendum: In 2012, the following year, 12 breeding pairs nested and bred successfully! – click on the following link to view a video clip from the 2012 season: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yh7tyuSTbtg  In 2013, the following year, 25 breeding pairs nested and bred successfully! click on the following link to view a video clip from the 2013 season: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcY_5nLQP7g&feature=youtu.be%5D

Key Terms and References. Lock 4 = A 30 pair Purple Martin colony located 1.3 miles southwest of my site at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lock and Dam #4 Facility along the banks of the Allegheny River in Natrona, PA.; Saxon G.C = a 28 pair martin colony 7 miles north of my site at Saxon Golf Course in Sarver, PA; ASY-M, SY-M, ASY-F, SY-F, = the age and sex of a martin that can usually be determined by careful examination of its plumage. Displacement = forcing martins to abandon a breeding site by blocking the entrance hole to their nesting cavity (in addition to blocking any other unused cavities at the colony), with the intent of forcing the displaced martins to nest at nearby, uncolonized sites; Knapek Tree = An 80 ft. tall dead pine tree located 300 ft. east of the Painter Ave. site. Martins used it as a perch and a grouping area; Recruit = When a martin goes out and brings other martins back to a site that he wants to breed at;. Supplemental feeding =. Offering non-traditional food items to martins when flying insects are not available due to extended periods of cool or rainy weather. The food is either tossed or placed on a platform. Martins must be trained to accept these items by first tossing crickets near them; T-14 = A 14 compartment wooden martin house designed by Amish ropemaker Andy Troyer in conjunction with the Purple Martin Conservation Association in the 1990’s; Excluder = a starling-proof entrance hole invented by Duke Snyder of Butler, PA. It improved upon several earlier starling resistant entrance hole designs by other landlords; Social Attraction = using broadcast vocalizations, decoys, mirrors, and fake nests/eggs to create the illusion that a site is already colonized, in an attempt to trick investigating martins into nesting there. Martins, being colonial breeders, prefer to nest at already established breeding sites.G-1 = Gourd #1; WH-7 = Compartment #7 in Wooden House; snooping = landing on multiple porches and peering into cavities (investigating). Crooked Creek = Crooked Creek State Lake Park in Ford City, PA, about 12 miles northeast of my site. I have been trying to establish a colony here since 1999. The pair that nested there in 2011 (an ASY-M and SY-F) was on the same timetable as the Painter Ave. pair.

Summary of Key Events: May 24th a subadult male (SY-M) who I named Lefty, since he had a lot of iridescent purple spots on the left side of his breast and belly, appeared at my Painter Ave site. In the two weeks that followed, he escorted many other martins to the site in an attempt to recruit a mate. After investigating, they OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwould usually fly off in the direction of the Lock 4 colony, which is probably where they came from.  May 26th 8:45 pm. Lefty might have slept in the Painter Ave. housing for the night but I spooked him when I went to close the nearby shed door around dusk. He flew off. Not sure if he came back for the night.  May have slept in nearby trees. May 27th After being around most of the day, Lefty stays for the night! May 30th Closed 8 cavities at Lock 4, displacing 5-6 pair. Perhaps a pair can be coaxed to the Painter Ave. site, or a pair-bond will be broken and Lefty will get a mate. June 3rd Reopened the 8 closed cavities at Lock 4. June 8th Closed 15 cavities at Lock 4, displacing 3-5 pairs of martins in an attempt to get a pair to move to the Painter Ave. site or get Lefty a mate. June 9th Lots of activity at Painter Ave. site – only 1 day after the displacement at Lock 4! Lefty fights an investigating ASY-M. June 10th An (apparently) displaced group of martins shows up. Lefty defends his house against an ASY-M by taking him to the ground, grappling with him for 5 minutes, and apparently defeating him. All leave, including the females. June 11th Lefty seems to have finally gotten a female. June 12th More displaced martins and fighting; female lands on ground in a possible attempt to gather nest material (grass clumps) June 13th Female brings green leaves. June 14 – June 17th While my resident pair seems to spend a lot of time green leaf-bringing, accompanied by several SY-M’s, there is a lot of other activity from visiting martins. While they are mostly SY-M’s, there is one ASY-M and 2-3 additional females periodically present and investigating. “Scaretta” (an SY-F with feathers missing around one eye) is present multiple times over the course of several days, but she mainly snoops. Another SY-F seems to be bonding with an ASY-M. They enter and exit multiple compartments in all houses. At one point an adult female, accompanied by an adult male, carries a dried oak leaf from the nest material platform to the porch of G-1, but then drops it. All the commotion and activity seems to be both stimulating and distracting to these females. I thought I’d pick up one more nesting pair during this 2-3 day period, but did not. On June 15th, there were some small brown swallows zipping around (Northern Rough Winged Swallows?) attracted no doubt by all the noise and ruckus. June 21st First egg laid in WH-7. July 8th hatching activity – found eggshell.  July 9th 4 nestlings confirmed. July 12th Discovered blowfly larvae on 3-4 day old nestlings. Red spots on legs was the clue. Did nest replacement and treated bottom of nest tray with 5% Sevin. Aug 4th Nestlings begin to fledge. Aug 13th This is the last day I can confirm the fledglings coming back to roost in the natal cavity, but they may have come in on the 14th also. Definitely not the 15th. So they came back to roost in the natal cavity for at least 10 days after fledging.

Observations/Questions/Discussion/Significant or Interesting Events:
Possible/Probable factors affecting the successful attraction of breeding martins: 1) Removal of trees I spent about $1200.00 to remove two very large trees in March of 2011. One was a 50 ft. Silver Maple with a canopy that reached to within 35 ft. of the housing. The other was a 50 ft. Pin Oak that was about 70 ft. away. This tree removal really opened up the site. Compare the before and after photos. In the two years prior to 2011, I had removed several other smaller trees, including an apple tree and several Staghorn Sumacs, that were within 25 feet of the housing. 2) Growth of nearby colony. The Lock 4 Natrona colony about a mile away along the Allegheny River was started in 2005 with 1 pair and grew to about 30 pairs in 2010. It was on course for almost full occupancy (about 40 pairs) in 2011 and generated a large amount of martin activity (confirmed by banding data) which spilled over to the Painter Ave. site. 3) Displacement of martins at nearby colonies. 30 pairs of martins were displaced from colonies within 25 miles of the Painter Ave. site. 8-10 of these pairs were displaced from the Lock 4 colony about a mile away. 4) Social Attraction I used multiple audio systems and outdoor loudspeakers to broadcast a Painter1700RedCircvariety of martin vocalizations. In addition, I deployed many decoys on older aluminum houses and placed mirrors in the entrance holes of many compartments of both the T-14’s and the metal houses. 5) Addition of third T-14 that was taller by about 2 ft and possibly in a slightly more open location. The pair nested in this house! 6) supplemental feeding: Just as in 2010, many martins visited the site to solicit supplemental feedings. There were a total of 22 supplemental feeding events between May 18th and June 14th. Perhaps this martin activity helped to convince Lefty that he had a decent chance to attract a female. Lefty’s eventual mate may have been among the visitors and may have been similarly convinced of the “legitimacy” of the site. I have also done supplemental feedings at the Lock 4 and Saxon GC site for the past 6 and 11 years respectively. This technique helped these nearby colonies survive and thrive, generating a lot of martin traffic at my Painter Ave. site. Conclusion. Which of these factors was the most important? It’s difficult to say, but I will say that there is no substitute for a determined SY-M! “Lefty” may have liked the site for reasons 1) and 4), among others, and was doggedly determined to find a mate. But I do not believe he would have found one without the displacement (reason 3) Lefty’s mate may have been a supplemental feeder, a displaced martin, both, or neither! I strongly suspect she was displaced from Lock 4. It’s interesting to speculate why Lefty chose to lay claim to the Painter Ave. site. Perhaps this “pioneering tendency” is hard-wired into a small percentage of the SY martin population to encourage new colony-establishment. In any case, I’m firmly convinced he would not have found a mate without the displacement of multiple pairs of martins at Lock 4 and surrounding sites. The overall upswing in the martin population in western PA must of course also factor in. After all, Lefty and his mate were not banded – meaning neither came from the closest two colonies that I manage! Nonetheless, with proper management of nearby colonies, it has been shown that martins can be attracted to marginal habitats like a traditional suburban backyard. The red circle in the Googleearth photo to the left indicates the location of the Painter Ave. nesting site. This photo was taken before the removal of the two large trees.

The Water Mister. Several years ago while vacationing in northern California, I purchased a water mister at an agricultural supply store. I finally got around to mounting it on a 10 ft. tall section of 3/4″ PVC connected to a garden hose.  The mister uses 13 gallons of water per hour, causing my water and sewage bill to each double from about $20 per month to about $40 dollars per month, even though I only used it in the afternoon on very warm days. Still, it was well worth it; the mister created a 1 meter diameter ball or fountain of mist that the martins would fly through in hot weather. It acted as a water source for both drinking and bathing, presumably saving them trips to the Allegheny River, which was about 1/2 mile away. Martins seemed to fly through the mist ball intentionally, and didn’t seem to mind when the wind blew the mist onto them while they perched on the nearby T-14’s. Interestingly, neighbors 100 ft away told me they could feel the mist when the wind was blowing in their direction! Only when the wind was perfectly calm would there be a perfect fountain of mist.

Lefty’s recruiting. Lefty spent 19 days attempting to recruit other martins before successfully attracting a female. His recruitment events totaled 18, or about one a day. Despite his determination, I am convinced he would not have gotten a mate without the displacement of breeding martins at nearby colonies. Incidentally, there definitely seems to be a recruitment vocalization that I will describe as intense, shrill, and rolling. He performed it when arriving at the site with escorted martins or when attempting to get the attention of investigating martins, especially females.

Lefty’s aggression. Lefty was very aggressive towards anything or anyone who strayed into “his” yard. This is typically know as site tenacity. He chased and dive-bombed people, rabbits, cats, bluejays, and starlings, among other creatures. Lefty took on and defeated at least two investigating ASY-M’s. Did he have high especially high “hormone levels” for a subadult male? Was this aggressiveness a trait of subadult males that start (or attempt to start) new colonies or just site tenacity? Perhaps this high level of aggression is what made him choose to stake out an uncolonized site, for perhaps he could not tolerate the proximity of other males. Or perhaps other males saw him as a threat and chased him away from the colony.

Displacement observations: Anecdotal evidence suggests that it takes about two days for martins to abandon their colony and begin looking for another nesting site after being excluded from their cavity, and while this still may be true as a general rule, there were 4-5 martins at my Painter Ave. site one day after the displacement of the pairs at the Lock 4 colony. Perhaps these martins’ familiarity with the Painter Ave. site, because of the social attraction and supplemental feeding techniques used there, as well as my site’s proximity, caused them to abandon a bit earlier, especially since at least some of them had been excluded 10 days earlier on May 30th. However, other martins had been excluded on May 30th, and there is no way to be sure that these martins came from Lock 4. June 8th – 10th seems like the best time to do the displacement in my area. Twice now, I have attracted breeding martins to a new site when the displacement took place around June 9th. The first time was 2005. Displacement works! The Lock 4 colony was started by a banded subadult male in 2005. There are numerous other examples of colonies started by martins that were displaced from large, established colonies.

Choice of nesting cavity/entrance hole. The site consists of three T-14’s, each with four horizontal and four vertical gourds. The female chose an Excluder II entrance hole facing east. It was the bottom-most cavity in that section of the T-14. I had earlier speculated that she may have chosen this T-14 because it was 2 feet taller than the other two T-14’s, but if that were the case, why did she choose the lowest cavity? Also, she chose an Excluder II entrance hole that was 3/4 inches above the porch. Many of the other Excluder II entrances were only 1/4 inches above the porch. She seemed to have difficulty entering an exiting her chosen cavity, which both perplexed and worried me. On two different occasions I filed down the top of the entrance hole to make it just a little easier for her to navigate. I probably removed 1/32 of an inch. When the nestlings were 12 days old, I removed the entrance hole plate to make feeding easier and to increase air flow, because temperatures were running in the high 90’s for several days. This plate removal created a large (approximately 4″ x 4″) square entrance hole that made it easy for all four nestlings to access incoming food .

Nest material platform.  The nest material platform was successful It was simply a OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3 ft. x 3 ft. wooden platform on a 6 ft. wooden post. I had 4 inch high wooden wall around the perimeter of the platform to keep wind from blowing the nest material off, but wind continued to blow out the contents, prompting me to take a 3 ft. by 3 ft. section of 1″ square mesh wire and loosely secure that directly to the surface of the platform, covering the offered nest material. This mesh kept the wind from blowing the material out, but the martins could still pull it out from under the wire. I kept it stocked with materials martins showed a preference for at the nearby Lock 4 site. One big favorite was locust seed pods.  As Andy Troyer once told me: “Martins like flat stuff.” And he was right!

ASY pair that visited the eggshell feeder.
On a near-daily basis at about 7:00 pm, an ASY pair would visit my site with the express purpose of getting eggshell. They would circle briefly then the female would land on the Bed and Breakfast feeder while the male perched nearby to guard her. Lefty would of course “go ballistic” while they were present, apparently trying to coax them into staying or perhaps trying to lure the female away. But he never tried to get close to her. Interestingly, she landed only inches away from several ASY-M decoys, so she must have known they were fake, and when they departed they always flew off directly towards the Lock 4 colony, so I assumed that’s where they were nesting. Interestingly, I only offered crushed oystershell at the Lock 4 and Saxon GC colony, so I assume the female had a distinct preference for crushed eggshell, which is what I offered at my Painter Ave. site, and which would explain their visits.
Number of martins present daily There were anywhere from 2 to 20 martins present at the site on any given day. Most commonly there were four – the pair and two bachelor SY-M’s. I have placed the number of martins present on each day, in green, next to the date in the martin journal below.

The Knapek tree. There was a dead 80 ft tall pine tree about 300 ft. from the martin house that served as a grouping area (place where parents bring their fledglings before they are independent) for one or two families of martins, presumably from knapektree1200the nearby Lock 4 colony, and later for my pair. The tree is named after the family that once lived in the now uninhabitable human house on the lot. My nesting pair and their nestlings were even victims of kleptoparasitism, which is when an already fledged martin from a different nest enters a nest of unfledged martins and begs like one of the nestlings to steal incoming food! The tree was one of four large pines that the new owner of the lot attempted to cut down. Three were successfully removed and all but the uppermost limbs of this 4th tree were removed before the owner ran out of time or money. Hopefully it remains for at least a few more seasons!
Floodlight at night – worrier’s delight. I was anxious about the female being flushed at night before the nestlings were 10 days old, so I kept a spotlight trained on the base of the pole all night, starting around 11:00 pm. This kept anyone or anything who might be walking through the yard from accidentally bumping into the pole. It also made it possible for me to monitor the site for other potential threats by just looking out of the window. I did not aim the spotlight directly at the house, but I could still see it clearly. The light did not appear to disturb the martins. I also considered fencing off a 10 ft. x 10 ft. area under the house, but never did.
Sleeping in nearby trees. I heard martin vocalizations coming from a nearby pine tree just after Lefty had found a mate but before they began nestbuilding. I had not seen them come into the housing for the night. This led me to believe that pioneering martins may sleep in nearby trees before they are confident enough in the safety of the site and/or before they are committed to it.

Mirrors. I noted eight instances of martins seeing themselves in mirrors. Two of these were females and they just stared at themselves. The other six were males, and in four of these six occurrences, the males were startled when they first saw their reflection. They sometimes jumped off of the porch, but always landed nearby. (search on “mirrors” to see these 6 occurrences in the journal)


2011 Daily Purple Martin Journal
(all color-coded events, below, are for Painter Ave. site)

key, interesting, or notable events – in red
supplemental feeding events – in blue (total = 22)
recruitments by Lefty – in orange (total = 18)
maximum number of martins seen that day – in green (next to date)

“Stay true to the dreams of thy youth.” -Friedrich Von Schiller.

All entries are for the new Painter Ave. site in Natrona Heights unless otherwise noted. I was gone for most of the late afternoon and evening after June 14th due to work obligations. My neighbor Frank took an interest in the martins and often relayed his observations. I marked these observations as “[Frank]”

April 4, 2011
Lock 4 – 2 martins! They are preening on the overhead wires. First martins of the season!

April 11, 2011
Lock 4 – 4 martins present.

April 13, 2011 (1)
Painter Ave. I see a dark bird in the early morning (7 AM) as I get ready for work. It is sitting on a porch of an Excluder gourd facing my house. It has been cool and rainy. The house is ½ way down and the dawnsong has not been playing. I think it must be a starling or drenched house sparrow. I walk out the back door and it takes off. It is an ASY-M martin!!! It slowly flies off in a northerly direction. I thought it might be Blackie (an ASY-M that solicited multiple supplemental feeding at the Painter Ave site in 2010), but I think Blackie would have flown around and solicited a feeding, since it was quite cool. So it probably wasn’t. Still, I wish I would have had the orange vest on when I walked out. It was probably a martin just passing through on its way north that was using my housing as an “overnight motel.”
Lock 4 – 12 martins present. I fed tossed scrambled egg. They ate a lot.
Saxon Golf Course, Sarver, PA (Saxon GC) – 14 martins present. Fed egg. They ate a lot.

April 17, 2011
Lock 4 – 16 martins present
Saxon GC – 20 martins present

April 19, 2011
Fed scrambled egg at both Lock 4 and Saxon GC

April 21, 2011
Lock 4 – Toss-fed scrambled egg

April 22, 2011
Lock 4 – 25 martins present. Toss fed egg
Saxon GC – 20-30 martins present. Fed egg.
Though I no longer bother to mention it in my journal, I trap House Sparrows at all 3 sites. (Lock 4, Saxon GC. And Painter Ave.)

April 29, 2011
Toss and tray-fed egg at Lock 4 and Saxon GC. 30-40 martins back at each site.

May 3, 2011.
Toss and tray-fed egg at Lock 4 and Saxon GC. ~ 40 martins back at each site.

May 4, 2011. hi in low 50’s
Toss and tray fed at Lock 4 and Saxon. counted 50-60 martins at LOCK 4!!!

May 9, 10, 2011. Sunny 70’s
Lock 4. Visited both days at about 2:00 PM and there were a huge amount of martins all over both houses/gourds. Very unusual for this time of day. Many males trying to get attention of females. Martins flying off and coming back to the housing. Tons! Almost on every porch – and the subbies haven’t started arriving! They are very animated and vocalizing loudly. I’m almost afraid the Lock staff is going to complain that there are too many martins. There are 44 cavities (two T-14’s, each with 8 gourds hung underneath) but we are already probably at 75% occupancy (at least!) In other words, there are probably at least 33 cavities occupied. I have filled the feeding trays with nest material twice and it is all gone both times. Can’t wait to do a nest check. One of the staff said it was very noisy – “all day noise” but they did not seem to be complaining. Still, I could see where a large colony might generate noise complaints from someone who isn’t a lover of martins.

May 11, 2011. Sunny Hi. 80
Lock 4. Saw several SY-M’s.
Lock 4. Read a band Yellow E470 left SY-M silver rite. This SY-M was later seen at the Painter Ave site many times.
Did quick nest check:
WH-5, 15, 16, 19, 20 27 all had Partial
WH-6, 7, 10, 11 had Nests. The ASY-F stayed on WH-10 (like last year)
WH-1, 2, 3, 13, 14, 22, 25 26 had Trace, as did several other comps.
Probably half the gourds had activity
A martin was bullying a Tree Swallow out of an Excluder Gourd.

May 12, 2011
Saxon GC: Put oystershell in Bed and Breakfast trays. did nestcheck:

May 14, 2011 (3)
Painter. warm sunny 6:20 PM 3 martins come in and fly around. One lands on T-14. 2 non-ASY-M’s and 1 ASY-M. Could be Snoopy!

May 16, 2011 mid 50’s all day. cool. cloudy
Lock 4. Toss and tray fed. took 20 eggs. tossed about 12. Left rest on tray. Many fed. They were HUNGRY

May 17, 2011 Cloudy. hi of 60. breezy. some rain.
Saxon GC.3:00PM seems to be getting a bit milder. Birds out. Toss fed a bit but mostly just loaded up trays and left. Put about 30 eggs on 8 trays., which is about 1/2 egg per martin assuming full occupancy.
Nest check WH-3=2E; WH-11=1E; WH-14=1E; WH-20=3E; WH-22=2E; WH-1,5,6,9,10,12,15,17,18,21,25,26,27,28=N; WH-8,23,24=P; WH-2,4,7,13,16,17=T
Lock 4. Toss-fed at 6:00 PM. Many ate. Fed about 14 eggs. Put other 10 on trays. Counted at least 50 martins, but I think there are at least 60-70.

May 18, 2011 (3)
Crooked Creek Lake. 1:00 PM. Met with volunteer Marge and opened the housing. Not setting up the dawnsong this year. Crooked Creek Lake State Park in Ford City, PA, about 12 miles northeast of my site. I have been trying to establish a colony here since 1999. A pair nested there in 2011 (an ASY-M and SY-F)!! They were on the same timetable as the Painter Ave. pair, and I suspect they were also displaced from Lock 4.
Painter. 6:20 pm 58 degrees. lite rain. cloudy. 2 martins, an ASY-M and a female spotted sitting on top perch of new T-14. No vocalizing. Daytime chatter was playing. I run outside with egg and orange vest and start spoon-tossing egg and they both eat about 3 pieces, then leave! Didn’t come back. I’ll bet they were nesters at Natrona. (Lock 4).  As I cut grass, about a dozen Chimney Swifts hover about. I must be kicking up tiny bugs.

May 19, 2011 (3)
Painter. 10:10 am. 58 degrees. cloudy. The pair is back! I heard the vocalization CD go off, then heard martins, so I ran to the window and the pair was there! ASY-M and SY-F. Male is banded but couldn’t get the whole band. They both ate egg, then perched on the phone lines, preening. Male appeared to try to mate with female. Then after 10 or 15 minutes they flew around, ate a little more egg, and flew off.
12:44 pm 59 cloudy cool. (same?) female comes back alone and eats 2-3 pieces of egg then sits on wires. I look at her with scope from several angles. No  iridescent spots! Definitely a female. No male around!!!!!!!
1:29 pm 59 cloudy. female returns again and eats 1 piece of egg. sits on wires. flies back toward housing, then off towards river.
2:00 pm 58 banded ASY-M eats 2 pieces of egg, sits on wire (no female)
3:00 pm 60 sunny. pair comes in and lands on new T-14 preen. female lands on porch and male next to her but then they fly. did i scare them from window? I turn vocalization off b/c female flew at speaker. Male is yellow right E850 !!!
5:00 pm sunny 65. The (same?) pair came in and ate 1-2 pieces of egg each, even tho I’m sure they’re getting plenty of bugs. Sat around for about 10 minutes. female looked in cavities on new T-14 facing jefferson. they sat on Castle perch.
5:30 back again!
7:30 back again. They each each a piece of egg then sit on the Lincoln St. wires and preen in the sunset. After 20 mins., they take off towards river.

May 20, 2011 (3)
8:45 AM. Frank saw them here for a good long while. They investigated a cavity (2nd from top new T-14 facing house). He tried to mate with her. She resisted. (like yesterday)
9:45 AM 58 degrees cloudy cool. They are sitting on the new T-14 when I get up and look outside. They take a few pieces of egg.. Very little vocalizing. Yesterday their vocalizing woke me up. Today – none.
10:30. moved speaker to Castle and put on Morton dawnsong.
11:00 AM. 60 degrees. milder. She takes one piece. Maybe I’ll lay off the egg next time they come. Let them do their thing without throwing egg up near them! But I’m glad she’s taking egg. Every piece she eats reinforces the bond and tells her she has unlimited resources!
12:00 noon 2 martins swoop in and out quickly
1:15 pm 3 martins. The third (a non-asy-m) may be a subadult male and it ate 5-6 pieces of egg! The ASY-M ate none and she may have eaten 1 piece. The 3rd left after eating. The other two left after 15 minutes, but came back 10 minutes later and stayed another 10 minutes.
4:45 pm The pair is back preening on the T-14 top perch. Their chatter wakes me from a nap.
May 23, 2011 (2)
1:30 pm. 2 martins take one piece of egg each. It’s probably the pair.
2:45 pm. E850 ASY-M, his SY-F mate, and an SY-M show up. The SY-M does not eat but the pair takes 1-2 pieces of egg.
5:30 pm. got mister hooked up and running. it’s awesome! can’t wait to see if the martins like it.

May 24, 2011 (1)
7:15. Lock 4, Fed 6 eggs. TONS of martins. Found dead ASY-M wedged in WH-27. no band.
Painter. 8:30 – 11:00 am. unbanded SY-M present off and on all day! Also saw him at 2:10, 3:00, 4:00, 4:45. I took a long nap at 6-8 ish (pm). He vocalized loudly and looked into many cavities, but seemed to prefer gourds. Once, he startled himself when he saw himself in a mirror. I changed vocalization CD’s off and on all day. He vocalized loudly, flew high and low, and landed on all houses. I added more mirrors to housing, and added 4 horizontal gourds to new (high) T-14. I call him Lefty b/c he has a series of purple feathers on his left side only. He was not at all interested in tossed egg. Once around 9 am he brought two other martins in but they quickly left.

May 25, 2011 (2)
9:45-10:00 unbanded SY-F flies around and lands on all houses/porches. May have been here earlier than 9:45. Glad I added the mirrors yesterday.
10:30-11:00 Lefty (SY-M that was here yesterday) vocalizing and landing everywhere. Goes inside several compartments. I saw him chase a House Sparrow off the T-14’s several times.
11:15 – 11:20 Lefty present. Seems to dive around me as I walk around.
11:30 – 11:40 Lefty  here. Sees himself in mirror and does the greeting call.
11:44 Lefty here again for a few minutes.
12:01 Lefty here again.
12:17  Lefty still here.
1:32 Lefty here.
5:45 Lefty brought an unbanded SY-F female in  She stayed for about 10 minutes. He went into a cavity. He flew and vocalized loudly, landing on all and trying to get her to stay. Kids screaming in the pool  They came back about 15 minutes later and she landed again then left after a few minutes
7:55 pm As I lower the rack to put the horiz gourds on (with the porches i made bigger), Lefty flies over and calls! I put them on.
8:45 pm Almost dark and I hear loud vocalizing and Lefty is bringing in 1 or 2 other martins .  Lefty lands on tall T-14 but then flies off. I dont see any other martins land. They may roost nearby in trees! Setting up 2 dawnsongs to come on a 4:00 AM.

May 26, 2011 (3)
7:15 am. Lefty brings an SY pair in. They land and sit on T14’s. They stay about 10 minutes. Was it the same pair as last evening? Did he roost with them in a tree nearby?
8:00 – 9:30 am. Read bands at Lock 4. Looks almost full. Fed about 2-3 eggs.
10:00 am. Lefty here.
Napped from 10:30 – 12:30
12:30 am. Lefty here.
1:15 Lefty  here.
Do some martins claim territory, then attempt to attract a mate, while some attract a mate, then try to find a cavity in an active site? Both, I think. Some pairs arrive already mated. In some cases, male goes out and recruits a female or even a pair!
3:00 Lock 4 nest check. Close to 40 nests!
5:00 Lefty here
5:30 pm ASY pair arrives (did Lefty bring them in?) and male dives at/chases Lefty. The ASY-F eats eggshell out of the B&B while the ASY-M guards her. Lefty vocalizes from the tall T-14. They stay about 10 mins.
5:55 Lefty back with martins but they don’t land. He preens on Tall T-14.
8:25 – 8:45 pm Lefty is back and vocalizing loudly. In and out. Don’t see any other birds. At 8:50 ish, I thought I saw him go into Excluder gourd facing Bargerstock on Tall T-14, so I turn all vocalizations down. At 8:55, I go to close the shed doors and he flys off towards the river, as if alarmed.
May 27, 2011 sorta crappy all day rainy (3)
6:50 am Lefty present..
9:30 am. 2 other martins (the pair?) flying around. Lefty vocalizing loudly. One eats a piece of egg, then they drift off and Lefty follows.
11:30 am Lefty vocalizing loudly. A lone martin flying around. It eats 2-3 pieces of egg. It drifts lazily overhead for 5 minutes but never lands. I try tossing mealworms but they are ignored. Lefty has been here all morning.
12:35 am The lone martin from earlier (probably) flies in and eats 1-2 pieces of egg. Lefty going crazy – he watched the lone martin eat egg!
12:45 pm Lefty headed towards river. He’s been around for 6 hours!
1:55 pm Lefty is back!
2:30 pm Lone martin comes in again and eats a piece of egg. I had opened the upstairs stairwell window to cluck at it, thinking it’s Lefty, and it flies at/around the window like it recognizes me! I realized it wasn’t Lefty and ran down and threw the egg up and it ate the one piece.
2:45 I have discovered an old nestling begging tape and when I play it (on tall T-14 speaker), Lefty goes NUTS, flying around the house as if looking for the begging babies.
2:50 Lefty leaves.
4:20 Lone martin comes in again, diving around me. I toss several mealworms and it ignores them. Only when I toss egg does it go after it. Eats 2 pieces. Absolutely NO VOCALIZING, which makes me think it’s a female, possibly/probably the female that is mated to E850 ASY-M at Natrona.
5:14 Lone martin takes 2 pieces of egg. Again, not a peep. Perhaps I’ll call her Gabby!
6:00 pm. Lefty back. Another bird here too, but it is behaving like Gabby, so it may have come in independently. Didn’t get a chance to feed.
6:45 pm Lefty leaves.
8:20 pm Lefty brings 2 martins in. They cruise around a lot but don’t land.
8:35 – 8:40 pm Lefty bring the two martins back. I think one’s an ASY-M . I play the baby martin begging vocalization and they land!!! But then take off. Here for 3-4 minutes.
8:50 pm Lefty goes into G-1 (Excluder gourd facing house on tall T-14) He is here for the night!!!

May 28, 2011 Warm, sunny (3)
6:50 am. Lefty present
7:25 am Lone martin eats 3-4 pieces of egg and heads directly towards river.
7:30 am Lefty chases starling off house!
9:00- 9:40 am A second subadult male (unbanded) present and singing!
10:30 Lefty brings an SY-F in. She lands and looks around. I think the second SY-M is still here.
11:45 Lefty here. Came back a few times.
4:40 Lefty arrives and flies thru mist cloud!
5:20 pm. Lefty here.
7:55 – 8:45 Lefty came in and out a bunch of times. Frank said he went into G-1 (same as last night).

May 29, 2011 hot sunny (4)
6:00ish – 11:35 am. Lefty present. The other SY-M also comes in and hangs around for a while around 8:00. A few non-ASY’s seen gliding around. Lefty flew thru the mist cloud intentionally, I’m fairly certain. Just occurred to me that another benefit besides bathing is drinking. Doesn’t have to go to river to splash-bathe OR DRINK! He chases and dive-bombs the Bluejay constantly.
12:35 am. Lefty returns and preens while the neighbors cut grass right along the property line (about 30 ft away). I have been whistling and clicking to Lefty – have gotten as close as 15 ft., and he doesn’t care. I even click at him from the upstairs window!
4:30 pm. Lefty brings in 2 martins – an ASY-M and a non-ASY-M, prrobably a pair  They fly low and around, landing briefly but not for long. Only here 1-2 minutes.
5:15 pm. I see Lefty swooping around, so I look up and there are 4-5 martins several hundred feet up, so I go inside. They do come down and swoop around some, maybe even land briefly, (I am manipulating the vocalizations – especially the baby begging.) They only stay a few minutes. (swooping around)
6:00 pm. Lefty brings a pair of martins in . I close two more cavities at Lock 4
6:55 pm Just walked out back door b/c I thought I heard martins and there was a pair on the eggshell feeder. I spooked them.
7:30 pm Lefty seems to have lured a few more birds in!
8:00 pm Lefty here by himself
8:22 pm. Lefty brings a pair in. Kid cutting grass next door. Lefty back 10 mins later
8:45 pm. Lefty lands on gourd. Sits on porch for awhile, then goes in.
I notice when he’s bringing birds in, he dives directly at the housing

May 30, 2011 very hot 91 high (4)
6:15 Lefty not present
6:30 Lefty arrives.
7:30ish. Frank said there were 3-4 martins here for 3-4 minutes checking everything out and landing.
8:00 am. I close down 6 compartments at Lock 4. I closed 2 yesterday, and 2 empty ones the day before. The 6 I closed today all had partial nests, and in total, I have probably displaced 5-6 pairs plus some SY-M’s, and just as importantly, left no available cavities.
9:30 am Lefty leaves
10:30 am. Lefty is back with a second SY-M. He goes in and out of cavities as if he’s a female. The new SY-M searches all houses and I play the begging. They both enter cavities.
11:50 am. Lefty and the other SY-M back. New SY-M going in and out of top compartment of T-14 closest to Cooks, facing my house.
3:00ish Lefty is here when I get home from Mare’s picnic.
5:45 pm One of the SY-M’s (I thought it was the new one) came in with a pair – an ASY-M and an SY-F. At first the pair landed on the Lincoln St wires, but when the SY-M tried to perch next to her, the ASY-M pounced on him and all 3 landed on the tall T-14 (the ASY-M being sure to stay on the same porch) and the female peered inside several cavities, while the SY-M went in and out of WH-5 of the tall T-14 several times. They were here a good 5 minutes. signif: They seemed to fly thru the mist intentionally.
6:00 pm. Lefty preening on the tall T-14 top-perch. Was he flying thru the mist? or down at the river splash-bathing?
6:20 pm TWO SY-M’s here for several minutes. Both landed. One is yellow left, silver rite! I don’t think the other is lefty.
6:30 pm Lefty here.
6:45 Lefty brought another martin in but it didnt  land.
7:20 pm. 2 martins. One lefty, I’m guessing – the other swoops around but does not land.
8:00 pm, ASY pair came in to eat eggshell (absolutely no vocalizing – just flew around low for a while.) Not long after, Lefty came in and must have spooked them.
8:50 pm Lefty flies in and goes directly into his gourd. Then comes out, looks around awhile, and goes back in, with head in entrance. No other martins. Jeff is cutting grass. It is almost dark at 9:00.

May 31, 2011 (3)
6:00-8:00 Another unbanded SY-M here snooping. Also saw a banded SY-M here.
10:45 am. Lefty brings in an SY pair. The female snoops around for quite a while.
Lock 4 Yellow E987 (banded at Saxon GC in 2010) picked up off grass. She appears to be exhausted. No apparent injuries. I keep he in a cool place and give her some water, then put her in a T-14 at Painter and crank it up. She flies out after several minutes, Seems to fly OK.
6:30 pm. Lefty preening on tall T-14.
6:40 Lefty brings in a martin. It doesn’t land.
8:30 pm Lefty present. I assume he went into his gourd.

June 1, 2011 (3)
8:00 am. Lefty has been here all morning – and very vocal, so he must have stayed here last night again. He has also been especially active – flying high and hard – perhaps his hormones are really pumping. I have decided that if he stops hanging around, I will reopen the compartments at Lock 4. But it has only been 48 hrs., and I must give it a chance.
12:44 Lefty still here- bigger than ever! About an hour ago he dive-bombed Charlie (my cat) as he ran across the lawn!!
1:30 Lefty here. He doesn’t mind my presence. I cluck and whistle to him as I walk around the yard. Odd for him to be here this time of day.
6:30 Lefty here.
6:55 pm. The ASY pair comes in to visit the B&B, like they do every evening around this time, and Lefty goes nuts, eventually following them when they head towards the river. The ASY-M is unbanded, so it is NOT E850. But there are at least two pair that are well-aware of this site! (in addition to several SY-M and other ASY-M and SY-F’s. The wind was blowing the mist directly onto them and they did not seem the least but phased.  ALSO, there are two ASY-M decoys right in the B&B trays – one right in the one the female was eating from! – and she was apparently NOT afraid of it and had come to the conclusion it was fake. And only 2 of the trays had eggshell (the other 2 had oystershell), so some females must like eggshell over oystershell, (enough to fly 1.33 miles to get it!)
7:22 pm Lefty here.
8:50 pm Lefty has been loafing around since 6:30, finally went into A DIFFERENT GOURD at 8:50 pm (Vertical excluder gourd facing my house on T-14 closest to Lincoln). Maybe because the “Hardy’s Sounds of Purple Martins” is playing from the speaker affixed to the roof of that house.?

June 2, 2011 (4)
7:00 am. Lefty brought another SY-M
8:00 am  Lefty brought a pair in. Not sure of sex of the birds in the pair.
2:08 pm. pair comes in with Lefty.
5:30 – 8:40 pm. Lefty here off and on. At 8:45ish, I assume he goes into a gourd for the night.

June 3, 2011 (2)
2:00 pm. Lefty here all day so far (in and out). In fact he was around just a while ago which is a bit odd since he’s generally gone between noon and 4 pm. Gabby (the silent, lone non-ASY-M that never lands but has solicited numerous feedings) was here around 10 am. She saw me in the window and Frank said she flew around him. Maybe it is Snoopy? (go back and check records – but I don’t think it ever landed while here soliciting feedings) Bluebirds investigating Flicker log. Fed them mealworms!
3:30 pm. Lock 4 nest check. OPENED the 10 closed cavities for the following reasons:
1. Lefty not bringing in nearly as many birds so those displaced martins must have moved on.
2. Can draw more in and try another displacement with a new batch, possibly
3. Rather than have Lefty give up and move away, I’d rather he move to Lock 4, and have another bird there that is well aware of 514 Painter Ave.
4. Lefty might move down there and find a mate, and I can displace them both.
6:00 pm. Lefty here. Divebombing a rabbit!
6:35 pm The “eggshell pair” was here eating eggshell!
7:30 pm Lefty divebombed me as I was setting up the wire for the trumpet vine.
8:22 pm Lefty comes screaming in with another martin in tow. He makes the intense rolly sound
8:55 pm Lefty goes into gourd facing my house on tall T-14.

June 4, 2011 (3)
8:00 am. Lefty brings in a banded SY-M and an SY-F.  The female hangs around after the banded SY-M leaves and follows Lefty to several porches where he goes in and she sits outside. Very promising, but she does leave after about 10 minutes. Robin seemed to be harassing Lefty.
7:45 pm Came home for lunch late and all vocalizations off. No Lefty. When I turn on, he appears and vocalizes as if he has a martin with him. I think I glimpse one fly by. He sits and preens for 5 minutes then takes off.
Don’t know if he slept here as I worked until 11:00 pm.

June 5, 2011 (3)
Lefty here all morning. Must have stayed here last night.
5:30 – 6:30 pm. Frank: 3 martins here kicking up a fuss.
8:15 – 8:45 pm Frank: 3 martins here kicking up a fuss. Frank said he thought they would stay for sure, but the two took off just before dark and Lefty stayed in the gourd in the Excluder gourd on House #2 facing my house.

June 6, 2011 (1)
3:27 pm. Lefty here now. Has been in and out all day so far. He is around all day – morning, noon , and evening, off and on.
8:50 pm Lefty loafing around when he starts the loud shrill call indicating other martins are near and two martins come flying in from the NE at an altitude of about 70 ft. and fly directly towards Lock 4. Lefty takes out after them and it seems he may spend the night down there, but at 9:00 pm I hear him and he is on the porch Excluder gourd facing my house of House #2. Then, I hear him call again and swear I see another martin cruising low around the site at 9:03. Lefty is in his gourd looking out. Could this other martin be sleeping in a Castle or a nearby tree?!!!

June 7, 2011 Warm but stormy/windy (3)
6:30 – 7:30 am. Lefty was here this morning. I slept in until almost noon.
12:45 pm. Gabby gliding around. He/She ate 4 pieces of freshly-cooked egg. I was not wearing orange. She glided high all over the neighborhood before heading back towards the river.
2:10 – 3:30 pm Lefty here in and out, and when I leave for work..
7:15 – 7:35  Lefty brings an unbanded SY-F in. She snoops around quite a bit. They leave in the direction of Lock 4
7:45pm. 3 martins come in and 2 fly around while Lefty sings.
9:00 pm ish Frank: Lefty came in to sleep alone

June 8, 2011 HOT high 91 (2)
Lefty is here in the early morning and in and out thru-out the morn.
8:30 am. Signif: I close 15 compartments at Lock 4.   9 or 10 of these are comps that I closed (and reopened) that are not being used, as best I can tell, but the other 4 or 5 have pairs that I am displacing – at least 3 pair
2:45 pm. Lefty brings another non-asy-M in. It swoops around, checking me out as I cur grass, and before I stop the mower realizing he has a guest! It’s almost as if it’s checking me out, but I am wearing goggles and earmuffs.
4:45 pm. Lefty here alone. He sits on styro ball in the mist-stream!!!
5:40 pm Lefty brings in another unbanded SY-M who snoops around for 5 minutes while Lefty goes in and out of his gourd (on House #2). When the SY-M leaves, Lefty hangs around for another 20 mins.
9:05 pm Lefty comes in and goes into gourd.

June 9, 2011 (5)
6:00 ish am. Replaced dawnsong with daytime vocalizations.
7:00 ish am. I woke up to find 3 martins sitting on the phone wires on Lincoln. Shortly thereafter, there were 7 martins buzzing around and landing on all the T-14’s. There were at least 2 females, and one banded martin, a female, and possibly another banded martin, as well as an ASY-M! They were here for a good long while, at least 30 minutes. Eventually, all but 3-4 left, then they left too.
8:00 ish am. Lefty comes back with an SY pair. They sit around and snoop for 15 minutes
9:20 – 9:35 am. Another (same) SY pair sits on tall T-14 with Lefty. Looks like she’s sizing up the site (just sits still on top perch looking around) so I vary the vocalizations – begging, morton, hardy, etc…
10:18 Lefty back alone.
11:00 Lefty back with another SY-M
11:40 ish -12:00 noon. 4-5 martins including Lefty, a banded ASY-M and an SY-F. Mostly on tall T-14, but on all houses and swooping all over neighborhood. At one point an ASY-M lands on a porch and I think Lefty pounces on him and drags him off.!!!! Noisy!!
12:15 – 12:50 pm An SY-M snoops all over. Sits on porch of tall T-14 facing Cookie and preens. Lefty is here too, but not vocalizing. The SY-M sees himself in a mirrored gourd and jumps right off, as if startled, but lands on another gourd porch.
1:00 pm Lefty and other SY-M still here. A third martin appears briefly – swoops around but doesnt land.
3:30 pm. Lefty is here and has been around – in and out. I leave for work at 3:50.
5-6:00 ish Frank said 2 martins sitting on wires. (plus Lefty)
7:00 – 8:00 Lefty and other SY-M here (Newbie)
9:00 pm Frank said Lefty came in late by himself.

June 10, 2011 (6)
Early AM. Lefty and Newbie here.
8:45 am. counted 6 martins (Frank counted 7), including an ASY-M that came in and flew around, briefly landing, then some sat on the Lincoln phone lines. I am assuming this is the “band of displaced martins” I later saw the ASY-M sitting on the lines by himself while Lefty was on the housing. The martins also flew around the neighborhood. There is definitely an increased presence and traffic of martins.
9:30 am Two additional martins flying around.
9:45 – 10:00 am a banded ASY-M and an unbanded SY-M on Lincoln wires. They fly around the neighborhood as Lefty cajoles them.
11:45 just saw E470 SY-F on top perch of tall T-14 but Lefty wasn’t going nuts. Must have been E471 SY-M that was confirmed at Lock 4
11:50 SY pair sitting on phone lines (pretty sure SY-F) and Lefty trying to get them to come over. When I walked out to scope them. they glided over and checked me out, so I went and put the orange vest on and they came over again! May have been flying into the mist. Then they went very high with Lefty and a 4th martin joined them
12:30  After flying around over the neighborhood and the site, five martins (Lefty included) land on the tall T-14. There are 2 females, a banded ASY-M (yellow), and 2 SY-M. One female sits on a horizontal gourd porch. Another sits on a top perch. When the ASY-M lands on a porch, Lefty takes him to the ground and they grapple for 5 minutes. I watch out for cats. Looks like Lefty is winning, and another bird scolds them on the ground. Finally the female flys off and the other SY-M, and the ASY-M takes off, as does Lefty. Lefty took the ASY-M to the ground several times and I think he won the fight. They were here for 20-30 minutes. The martins did not seem alarmed in the least when I walked around. In fact I may have reassured them.
3:45 Four more martins present. not the same ASY-M (this one is unbanded). The ASY-M and one female leave. The other SY pair poke around sit on wires.
4:30 – 8:00 pm Lefty and one other. (frank)
8:00 pm 3 martins (frank)
8:15 pm Lefty only
Frank said he didn’t see any come in for the night. Lefty may have stayed at another location to bond with a female??

June 11, 2011 (8)
6:00 am – 10:00 am. 3 martins sitting on the phone lines when I look out at 6:00 am. Lefty on house, I believe. Before long – chaos! Up to eight martins come in and visit, including a banded ASY-M, but there are mainly 5 birds: 4 SY-M (which includes Lefty), E470 yellow, another unbanded SY-M, an unbanded SY-M that looks like a female and has a distinct call but does the picket fence, and AN SY-F!!! The SY-F appears to be with Lefty – she goes into a gourd and several compartments with him, but there is more fighting among the males, and some even jump her when she tries to land on a porch. There are 4 martins present between 8:30 – 10:00 am: 3SY-M and the SY-F. They leave around 10:00 am
11:30 I go to Lock 4 and do a nest check, and close one more cavity. I don’t see any that were on Painter in the am
12:45  When I get back, Lefty is here alone
1:00 pm a subby pair come in and sit on the tall T-14 for about 15 minutes. The male (not Lefty) seems to jump on her if she tries to land on a porch. All 3 take off after a while – fly towards highway. They were getting misted while perched and didn’t seem to mind.
2:00 pm All 3 back again for about 10 minutes.
3:00 pm 5 martins here. 2 unbanded females I think. and Yellow E470 left SY-M. A ton of fighting which is making me a nervous wreck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was maddening how Lefty would get a female in a compartment or gourd with him then come out again almost right away …which would lead to more fighting/confusion….like he was so curious about what else was going on outside he couldn’t stay put.
4:00 pm They’ve been here all along. Lefty and the 1st female went into WH-2 (tall T-14) They had also been inside HG-2 together. There has been a second female here missing feathers above an eye. Both males were courting her. E470 has been away, so it was just the 2 pairs!
4:20 2 martins flying high over the site – feeding perhaps.
4:30 – 6:30 pm there are 3-5 martins here on and off. Napped from 6:30 – 8:00 pm
8:00 pm Lefty and female in tall T-14 facing Frank’s yard – bottom two cavitiesWH-6 and WH-7. They are in separate cavities! They take off.
8:45 pm Lefty comes in screaming like he has other martins in tow. But none come in so he goes off after them.
9:30 pm Leaving Frank’s porch figuring they aren’t coming in for the night when I hear martin vocalizations. I think it is my recordings accidentally left playing but NO! My stuff turned off at 9:00. The vocalizations are coming from the White Pine trees about 75 ft away. They must be in the trees!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So a pair may sleep in nearby trees when first getting familiar with a site. They may not yet be confident enough of the site to sleep in the housing..
There have been martins here all day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I walked close to all the martins and they did not seem alarmed. I walked around the house to the back door and clucked. I also opened the upstairs window to shoot video and they did not seem to mind.

June 12, 2011 (10)
6:00 – 9:00 am. Lefty and female present, along with an SY-M. They are in WH-6 and WH-7, which both have Excluder II entrance holes. Lefty’s female stares at herself in mirror for quite a while (the one in WH-3). Males, on the other hand, tend to be startled by their reflection.
9:45 am a big gaggle (at least eight) of martins comes in while Lefty and his mate are out. Among them are two ASY-M’s, some SY-M’s, an ASY-F, and possibly more females. Most leave after several minutes but an ASY-M (unbanded) and his apparent mate, an ASY-F, snoop around for a long time, going in and out of cavities.  An SY-M goes into WH-7, but it’s not Lefty. I start to get a little worried, but am glad they’re gone, as I’m sure Lefty would want to fight them off if he were here.
10:30 am signif.: Sure enough, as soon as Lefty and his mate get back, he goes immediately to attacking the ASY-M. There is a big ruckus and after a few minutes the ASY pair leaves. DAMN! Lefty’s female goes into WH-7, and the banded SY-M is present also. (E470, I think). The pair also goes into G-1, Lefty’s original sleeping spot.
11:40 am unbanded ASY-M and SY-M come in and join the three (my pair + E470). ASY-M still hanging around at 11:47.
12:15 unbanded ASY-M still snooping. Looking into WH-17 (bottom comp. facing my house) on T-14 nearest Lincoln St. ALSO – E470 just had the scar-faced female on WH-4 porch with him. She leaves and he sits on WH-6 porch. Good for him Lefty and mate are out. The ASY-M hangs out until about 12:30 pm
12:50 ASY-M back on House #2 (nearest Lincoln)
1:50 pm Aside from a few brief appearances, the martins have been out.
4:35 The unbanded ASY-M has been around on House #2 for about 30 minutes – he heard the begging and he saw himself in mirror. Seems interested in WH-17 and WH-28. Saw him go in WH-28. Was alone for a good bit then Lefty and mate came in and she went into WH-10 and is looking out while Lefty sits on porch of same. Lefty is leaving him alone as long as he stays on the other house, it looks like.
5:00 pm The ASY-M has been in and out. Brought another bird in briefly.
6:10 – 6:25 pm. 5 martins: the pair, the unbanded ASY-M, a “new” SY-M, and E470.
7:30 pm. Pair came in and on tall house, then female went to ground in Bargerstock yard. Saw her land on lawn for several seconds! Why? I think she was gathering grass from a clump to use as nesting material.  Did it twice, I think. ASY-M here too. Didn’t even see him come in. He was lurking on House #2.
Pair never came in for the night(?). All 3 (or 4) disappeared around 7:30 -7:45

June 13, 2011 (5)
6:00 – 8:00 am The pair is present. Maybe they did slip into the housing without me seeing. The unbanded ASY-M is also here. Eventually E407 and two other SY-M’s are on the Tall T-14 (House #1) as the pair repeatedly goes off in an easterly direction and comes back with green leaves. Around 6:30, I went out and tossed egg with the orange vest on and the ASY-M and one other bird did go after the egg and ate a few pieces, so they are probably from Lock 4. I will try tossing again tomorrow AM, as it will be cool.
10:00 am – 12:30 pm. No martins here
12:15 ASY-M comes cruising in as I’m cutting grass around the houses.
12:30 Did nest check: many green leaves (GL) in WH-7. Put predator guard on house.
12:35 Pair comes in alone.
7:20 pm Heard a martin call, so I wrapped up the yard work and went inside.
7:40 Pair comes in briefly. Saw female bill-wiping, then saw one bird take off in northerly direction. Assuming they were both here.
8:16 pm Saw male on house briefly.
8:30 – 8:45 pm They are on the house again, Also, the ASY-M is here! The female does her low swooping behavior again. I see them about to go in WH-7, it seems, then the female goes to the north side of the house. The ASY-M is WH-17 peering in. Then I don’t see any, so either they went in or to the trees, etc…
8:55 pm As I leave for market, there is a martin sitting on gourd arm

June 14, 2011 (10)
6:00 – 9:00 am. Five martins here: the pair, 2 SY-M, and the ASY-M. The ASY-M is in and out.
9:00 am Several more martins arrive, including a new banded SY-M (saw him and E470 at same time) and an ASY-F!!!, making 9-10 martins for a while. The ASY-M may have gone out and recruited her (The ASY-M took several pieces of tossed egg) The ASY-M and the ASY-F appear to be bonding, going in and out of comps on all houses. They are here all morning even though all the other birds are gone. I’ve been playing the baby begging vocalization on House #2. She landed on the nesting material platform!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The ASY-F saw the SY-F take green leaves into nest!! She was snooping at WH-7 later.
11:10 am. The ASY pair still here even though all others out.
11:20 am All birds appear to be out.
11:59 am. The SY pair brings a green leaf to WH-7.
3:00 or 4:00 ish pm. One bird here briefly snooping.
7:10 – 7:20 pm banded SY-M (not E470) snooping around on House #1 and House #2 May have been here this morning. Startled when he saw himself in VG-3 mirror. Jumped off but didn’t leave.
7:50 pm Lefty, his mate, and the ASY-M return. She takes a leaf into WH-7.
8:50 3 martins came in – there was a bit of a scuffle and the 3rd one flew off or went into a cavity
9:00 pm She goes into WH-7, followed by Lefty.

June 15, 2011 (10)
6:00 – 11:15 Almost non-stop action as there have been up to 10 martins here, including extended appearances by signif: 2 new females, one of which carried an oak leaf from the materials platform to the porch of G-1. SY-M on all the T-14’s. There have been small brown swallows zipping around (Northern Rough Wings?) attracted no doubt by all the noise and ruckus. Perhaps it will be easier to attract Barn Swallows after I have a colony of martins. Males going crazy displaying and making the trill humming sound. Things seem to have really snowballed. More green leaf bringing by the pair. All martins out by 11:30 am
11:36 am 2 SY-M on tall T-14
11:48 Lefty and mate back
11:55 female bringing green leaves into WH-7
12:05 The pair still leaf bringing and 2 SY-M present
1:30 the ASY-M and an SY-M brought a female in. Didn’t stay for more than a minute.
8:05 pm When I get home for lunch there are martins flying overhead and vocalizing! Four land on the T-14, including the ASY-M who displays amd vocalizes, I think one is an ASY-F, which goes over to House #2 when I play the begging. They are only here for 5 minutes. Don’t think it was Lefty and mate as they were on top perch whole time – didn’t go to WH-7.
8:52 female went into WH-1 with ASY-M (she went first) 5 martins here

June 16, 2011 (5)
6:00 -9:00 am. Rainy, overcast morning. I got up slightly before the daytime vocalizations came on at 6:00 am. (I discontinued the dawnsong b/c of possible owl attraction) I observe only the ASY-M and an SY-M (not Lefty). They snoop around WH-7 and WH-8. I do not see Lefty or his mate and grow concerned. They are not poking their head out or anything.
9:30 am. The pair finally appears! whew! The female carries a piece of nesting material into WH-7. Later, she takes in a green leaf. Counted as many as 6 martins total. Went back to bed around 10:00 am and didn’t get up again until 12:30 pm.
2:00 pm. unbanded ASY-M brings the “scarred” female (missing feathers above eye) in and she snoops on tall T-14.
3:00 pm. ASY-M back by himself. Behavior reminds me of Lefty while he tried to recruit a female. That is, he stayed here and went out to recruit
5:00 pm Lefty and mate return. She has a stick. Has trouble getting in, but does. Then Lefty helps a bunch of other birds drive a hawk away. I see 3 martins circling after that.
5:30 I see Lefty and Scaretta (SY-F missing feathers above eye) on House #1. No sign of Lefty’s mate but she could be inside. Lefty gapes at her and seems to harass her a little, but not much. He hops to whatever side of the house she is on. She gapes at him too. She seems interested.
6:00 – 8:45 pm. I slept
8:50 pm Lefty on WH-7 porch. (I assume his mate inside)
8:55 pm Vocalizations go off.
9:00 pm two martins silently arrive together and go immediately into WH-13 !!! Cannot tell age/sex as it is already too dark but it must be a pair right!?!?!?

June 17, 2011 (10)
6:00 – 11:00 ish Up to 10 martins here, including 2 females (Scaretta and another that I think was here the past 2 mornings, and the one that came in with the ASY-M last nite, I THINK.)  The ASY-M’s mate was in VG-1 and VG-7 (and possibly others) Saw ASY-M mount her on B&B. She landed on nesting platform several times and brought stuff to several cavities, but would be harassed by both SY-M’s, even though the ASY-M tried to keep them at bay. (Keep in mind all those SY-M will be ASY-M next year!). Then she and ASY-M were gone around 9:00, and Scaretta was being crooned by 3 SY-M on tall T-14. She snooped alot, and she also sat with the pair and watched. Lefty’s mate was attacked/harassed by a starling as she tried to bring nesting material into WH-7. Lefty chased it away but the female had dropped the nest material, but appeared unharmed. =
11:30 One martin comes screaming in and perches on tall T-14.
12:00 noon. 2 SY-M come in. One brought the other, I think, as 1 is new.
12:30 – 1:00 pm Did nest check at Saxon Golf Course. Banded 4-5 nests with 12-14 d.o. young.
8:35 pm Come home for lunch and 3 martins. Pair lands in garden to look for ?., then 3 on Lincoln overhead lines.
8:45 pm Only saw the one pair go in (just one martin, actually – the female I think – but other could have slipped in without me seeing. It would only take 2 seconds, like last nite.

June 18, 2011 (4)
6:00 – 8:00 am. relatively little activity this morning compared to yesterday. The pair and, later, two SY-M, were the only martins I saw (unless more came in between 8:00 – 10:30, when I went back to bed.
10:30 am. no martins present
1:30 The pair comes in with 2 additional martins. They fly around alot but dont land. Female carries in a piece of nesting material.
7:15 pm When I get home for lunch there are martins flying and perched on the Lincoln wires. Three birds fly around and land on the houses. At least 2 are SY-M. One is yellow right V0__ SY-M. (Could be Snoopy or Pete!) Carmen says some flew intentionally thru the mist. I counted 5 total.
8:40 ish pm Female goes into WH-7. Male lingers and goes in about 9:00 pm ish

June 19, 2011 (3)
6:00 – 10:00 Pair present along with at least 1 other SY-M
10:00 am Pair sunbathes then takes out and are gone for a while so I think it’s safe to
10:15 am Nest check at 514 Painter reveals many green leaves in WH-7 but no eggs.
10:30 am. Pair comes in and sits around and preens along with two SY-M (one is E470 I think) female stares at herself in mirror of WH-3
10:45 They are out.
11:25 Female goes in with nesting material. Male perches.
2:00 pm Mike Mazzocco from Crooked Creek called to say that 2 ASY-M and a female were spotted at the T-14 nest to the office.
7:15 pm Spot 2 martins sitting on Roosevelt phone lines (in front of Knapek/Bowser)
June 20, 2011 (3)
6:00 am pair here. female in cavity. Extra SY-M here.
11:15 am Pair loafing
11:39 am Left here preening. Just turned on the mister – maybe he flew thru it.
11:40 am Mike Mazzocco from Crooked Creek called to say that martins are carrying green leaves into the top most cavity of the T-14 facing the office.!! Marge called and said she thought there were more, possibly 6-7, and that some were at the house by the dam
11:53 am Lefty lands on nest material platform and carries an oak leaf into WH-7 while she is inside.
12:52 am pair loafing/preening and another unbanded SY-M comes in.
2:00 pm Pair still loafing. a third martin in and out – seems new.
3:30 pm Pair has been out since 2 pm

June 21, 2011 (3)
6:00 – 10:30 am Pair present with an SY-M
11:45 am. Crooked Creek. Did nest check on house by office and found a martin nest with one egg and many fresh green leaves! Was told it is an ASY-M, a female, and two SY-M. They did fly in once as I had the house down. Found a House Sparrow nest with 4 eggs also, as well as many partial house Sparrow nests. Removed all HS nests and replaced with insert traps as well as 1 inch plates to prevent entry by martins (7 cavities).
3:30 pm Lock 4: Found Black Rat snake in WH-25 Yellow K941 left ASY-M. Killed snake and cut open to discover the female inside. All other nests seemed undisturbed. Snake was 54 inches long. Also discovered and killed a 48 inch Black Rat snake in a Tree Swallow gourd on the Lock wall.
7:45 – 8:00 pm Pair comes in bill-wiping and loafs on T-14, near nest.
8:40 pm. Female goes in. I assume male is already inside.

June 22, 2011 (3)
6:00 am saw Lefty
10:15 am saw female go inside
11:30 – 2:15 I’m away
2:26 pm Pair comes in with an SY-M
7:50 pm Lefty carries a piece of cornstalk inside from platform. Earlier in the day, he carried a locust seed husk from the platform!

June 23, 2011 (4)
8:00 am – 2:00 pm. Pair present all day. Saw pair TOGETHER on the nest material platform. Female took a piece of cornstalk and went into WH-7. Female in compartment all day. Male took at least 2-3 pieces of material off platform.
4:15 pm ASY-F gets eggshell off off B&B. Pair (did I mean ASY-M?) sitting on rod.
4:25 Lefty just took another oak leaf into WH-7

June 24, 2011 (2)
Female appears to be incubating as she is inside cavity most of the time, it seems. Since there were no eggs on June 19, the CID must be June 20 – June 22…about the same as the Crooked Creek pair! On a different note, I wonder what would happen if you put small nestlings into a nest that had just eggs (that were not ready to hatch.) Would the parents start to feed them?

June 25, 2011 hi 70 (6)
9:00 am river female takes eggshell
9:20 4 martins (2 SY-M plus pair)
9:52 5-6 martins, including ASY-M. Bumping egg and veering away – not taking
2:20 pm signif.: Painter: nestcheck: 4 eggs! CID would be between 6/20 – 6/22, most likely 6/21/2011, means hatching day is July 9.

June 26, 2011 hi 75 (5)
At least 2-3 other martins flying around at times. After several days of coolish weather (hi 60s) I turn the mister back on and a see a bird fly thru it.
Lefty brought a female in. They sat together looking at WH-7 entrance as Lefty’s wife looked out the entrance hole!

June 27, 2011 Hot Hi 82 (6)
8:30 am. Lots of noise and there are 3-4 additional martins here snooping around
11:30 am 2 additional martins present. Turned on mister
2:00 pm Pair present, female goes in.
Saw Lefty divebombing a raptor very high up – nervewracking!

June 28, 2011 (4)
Early am: 4 martins swooping around over site
11:15  Two SY-M perched on tall T-14.
11:45 am. The two SY-M leave and Lefty comes in, then the female flies out and away, and Lefty goes inside.
12:00 noon. SY-M on top perch
1:00 pm Crooked Creek nestcheck. There 4 FOUR martins present when I went to lower the house. 4 eggs! Put Sevin under tray and at bottom of nest tray (well covered by material)
2:00 pm. Painter nestcheck when female flew out. 4 eggs look fine. Filed open entrance hole of WH-7 a bit. Removed gourd attached to porch. Dusted under tray with Sevin. Dusted Sevin at bottom of tray, added material (pine) to nest and replaced eggs.
2:20 pm 2 SY-M (one yellow left) on several T-14’s. Banded SY-M has a grasshopper-like insect in mouth! I turn on begging sound in house #2 but he doesn’t go to it. Eventually he just eats it. Banded SY-M is _ _ 7 8 YELLOW left. Definitely not E470 because he is heavily marked and E470 looked almost like a female.
3:00 pm 2 SY-F sitting on rod near nest! One goes into WH-7 (Lefty’s mate) The other seems wet and a large brood patch is very noticeable. She takes off.\

June 29, 2011 (4)
Frank said there were 4-5 martins around this morning. Lefty went after a Coopers Hawk that showed up again later.
June 30, 2011 (6)
7:30 am 5 martins all sitting on tall T-14 perch
8:00 am Both martins of the pair getting material off platform. Lefty takes locust seed husk and she takes corn stalk
12:40 pm 4 martins including yellow left SY-M. One clearly flew thru mist and landed on Lincoln wires to preen – looked wet!
1:00 pm 2 additional SY-M whooping it up out there with Lefty!
5:00 pm 6 martins present (+female incubating?) I play the nestling begging vocalization (NBV) and they are all over House #2! Flying thru the mist!
5:20 pm 4 martins, all SY-M, plus incubating female.
Neighbors (Morrows) car alarm goes off about 9:00 pm.

July 1, 2011 (4)
7:05 Lefty goes in with a piece of nesting material
Several martins in and out all day.

July 2, 2011 (5)
6:15 am 3 martins cruising above front yard at 150 ft.
Frank said there were 5-6 martins around in the late AM

July 3, 2011 Hot, humid (5)
6:15 am 5 martins flying overhead making a ruckus. Minutes later, only 4 sitting on Lincoln wires. Did female go in?
12:15 pm Lefty on porch, then I see both on nest material platform. They each carry to comp. Left goes in, comes out, then she goes in with locust seed husk.
8:45 pm Hawk (don’t think it was Coopers – too big ) showed up and flew into Bargerstock apple tree. I chased and Lefty went after too. Never saw him come back. Maybe he’s sleeping out b/c of the heat.

July 4, 2011 (5)
7:00 am. Lefty preening
11:00 am. A new SY-M and SY-F (both unbanded) here visiting when I wake up. Lefty going nuts. Lefty’s mate looking out. New “pair” observing her. Male gets on WH-7 porch but Lefty shoos him off. Lefty goes off after female when she flies off…several times. They are here until 11:30…but may have been here well before I got up at 11 am.
12:00 noon 3 extra SY-M here.
12:17 pm female carries a locust seed husk inside. Lefty inside. A new SY-M had landed on the platform with her and initially kept her from landing on WH-7 porch, but she eventually entered with the husk then Lefty poked his head out!
12:31 pm Lefty on B&B mouthing eggshell. Another SY-M sits on B&B watching. Another SY-M on House #2. Then the other 2 play with eggshell.
12:38 SY-M on mirrored gourd entrance pecking at his reflection – was initially startled.
12:50 5 martins here – really whooping it up like there’s an extra SY-F here, but the female went into WH-7
2:00 pm. Just the pair. She preened (was she out feeding) then carried a locust seed husk in from platform, and Lefty came out

July 5, 2011 (5)
8:00 am 5 martins, including a 2nd female. 2-3 martins on platform!
12:00 noon. No activity. Then, two martins come in from direction of Karns/Morrow house and dive in. Female goes in after male takes off. She still has trouble getting in. Must shave it more.

July 6, 2011 (5)
4-5 martins here this morning
1:15 pm quick nest check: 4 good-looking eggs! I waited till they were both outside and present when I lowered house. They of course made a bit of a fuss but female re-entered within 5 minutes of the house going back up. Male landed first, which is what I expected. I wanted him to be present when it came down so he would coax her back in. They did veer away a few times before he landed.
4:00 pm They were both gone so I lowered again! and shaved some off entrance hole top. Also repositioned snake netting to be more effective.

July 7, 2011 (5)
6:30 -9:00 am Didn’t see the martins around until I spotted the female come out at 9 am. Did see one martin fly about 200 ft. overhead. No sign of Lefty. Worried.
Did see two martins fly around the housing but didn’t land. Frank said he saw this yesterday.
11:00 am The female and another SY-M hanging out on porch. The SY-M is poking his head in hole and hanging out with female Where is lefty?!! Worried!
11:15 am Female carries what looks like a mouthful of small bugs in !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
11:30 am Lefty comes rocketing down out of the northwest sky – wings folded looked like a missile He goes in WH-7 when she leaves.
12:00 noon 2 extra SY-M here now.
2:45 pm nest check – still 4 eggs.
3:05 pm. 3 SY-M on top perch. She flies out. Lefty not around.
3:30 pm 3 extra SY-M here. Lefty letting one sit on WH-7 porch and look as she looks out. Sometimes Lefty chases SY-M off nearby porches!
8:45 pm Female sticking head out of hole.

July 8, 2011 Rained all morning and early afternoon (2)
mid-morning: saw one parent (can’t remember which one) go in with a small bolus of insects. Small wings sticking out tip of beak) hatching? thought I saw this yesterday too, but no hatching.
1:35 pm Lefty goes in and she comes out and flies off. There is a light drizzle
3:00 pm martins seems to be going in and out more often – I’m guessing hatch!
3:40 pm Found a hatched martin eggshell under the housing. Martins definitely going in and out more often…feeding I guess.

July 9, 2011 (4)
6:50 am. 3 martins. female leaves and an extra SY-M
11:20 am. 4 martins 2 extra (both SY-M I think) Female in entrance. All leave so I do a nest check. FOUR nestlings!
Crooked Creek 5:30 pm. 4 eggs.

July 10, 2011 (2)
4:30 pm Painter nestcheck while parents away: 4 healthy nestlings!

July 11, 2011 (2)
Crooked Creek: 4 healthy 1 day old nestlings!
Painter: One parent on house when I’m mowing grass – doesn’t even fly off

July 12, 2011 (2)
2:15 pm. Painter. Nestcheck. 4 healthy 3-4 day old nestlings but one or two has red blood spots on leg and I discover blowfly larvea in bowl, so I do nest change, being careful to maintain nestbowl integrity. (I dusted the bottom of the nest tray with 5% Sevin before placing inserting new nest material.) I also remove horizontal gourds for decreased wind resistance in case of strong storm (and remove chance of martin getting leg caught in wire.. Lefty just sits on top of house #1 while I do all this! Doesn’t make a peep! Has insects and goes in after a few minutes.

3:30 pm. Both martins going in and out of WH-7 (feeding) as Frank and I are talking and doing stuff near the french drain trench along the back side of the house.

July 13, 2011 (2)

Noon.  Bringing rather large winged insects in.

July 14, 2011 (7)

9:00 am. Another SY-M (VERY vocal) and a female comes in and swoop around alot and land on the tall T-14 several times. He displays for her. Lefty’s mate goes on feeding.

9:10 Now there is an ASY-M yellow right. All snooping.

9:26 Extra “pair” still here snooping. Watching the active pair and WH-7

9:35 am 3 Extra SY-M really whooping it up – mainly on House #2, and several went to the ground fighting. They were all displaying while the female was getting eggshell/oystershell of the B&B! ha-ha

9:45 am  Saw lefty go into WH-13 with food while an SY-M sat on porch and another on perch rod, watching. Meanwhile, saw a female fly out of WH-7, then Lefty came out of WH-13, still with food, and went into WH-7 and another????? female flew out! Was a visiting female in there with her?

9:55 am 4 martins on B&B. Female getting eggshell!!!

2:00 pm Painter nestcheck:  4 healthy nestlings. 1 looking a bit runtish. No bugs, but changed anyway and lightly dusted bottom of nest tray with Sevin

July 15, 2011 (4)

9:00 am Painter. 2 extra martins here.

12:00 noon. Crooked Creek. 4 healthy nestlings. nest change and dusted under nest tray with Sevin

July 16, 2011 (2)

They seem to be feeding normally.

Note: I have been keeping the backyard floodlight on at night for about the past week. It is pointed at the base of the martin poles.

Bob Allnock reported that 18 of the 28 Excluder II entrance holes were broken out by owls (at the Moraine State Park colony at McDanels Launch in Portersville, PA), even though owl guards in place. I am thinking of replacing the entrance hole with a metal plate, maybe a shaved Excluder 1, as well as adding owl guards. [I never did either]

July 17, 2011. (4)

Lots of activity in the am right up till 11:00 am. At least 2 extra martins here. Much vocalizing. A lot of activity oh House #2. Female bringing eggshell from B&B. Made multiple trips.

6:15 pm Painter. Nest check. 4 healthy nestlings!

July 18, 2011 (3)

10:00 am An ASY-M is here with the pair. They all sit on House #1 top perch and watch me work on the french drain near the martin housing, only 35 ft away..

late afternoon: male flying high and vocalizing loudly.

saw a coopers hawk fly right thru back yard with many birds on his tail, including lefty

july 19, 2011 (2)

1:30 pm 4 healthy nestlings!

july 20, 2011 (6)

11:30 am removed entrance hole plate, so now there is a just 3 inch x 4 inch rectangular hole in the front of the cavity now. I also drilled 2 ventilation holes – on each in the upper back section of cavity on either side to draw air. All this to reduce temp inside cavity. It’s been very hot and is going up to 97 degrees tomorrow

11:37 am. 6 martins here – including an asy-m. they stay until about 12:25.

11:50 am just saw male go in.

2:00 PM. drilled 4 more ventilation holes – 2 in front top and one more on each side top middle

July 21, 2011 (10)

7:30 am. About 4 martins here.

9:00 am Duke came today. We checked nest and they were good

Noon: Frank said there were 9-10 martins here whooping it up

5:30 pm. Checked when I got home. Nestlings good. Niether parent around.

July 22, 2011 (5)

7:00 am 4-5 martins here

2:00 pm Crooked Creek. Treated and changed nest. 4 nestlings OK. Drillled 6 ventilation holes (1/2″) in compartment

2:30 Painter: checked nest. 4 very healthy nestlings!

July 23, 2011 (12)

12:00 – 1:00 pm  12 martins here! lots of noise and activity. 7 near WH-7!

July 24, 2011 (2)

5:30 pm Painter nest check: 4 healthy nestlings.

July 25, 2011 (9)

1:30 – 2:00 pm About 8-10 martins here, then 7-8, including at least 3 HY – 2 from Lock 4 and 1 from Saxon GC, and two ASY-M, one with red anodized and yellow color band. Many on House #2 and even some on House #1.

2:20 – 2:30 pm 2 ASY-M here.

3:30 Crooked Creek. Banded and final nest check/change/treatment. Added netting.

5:30. Painter. Banded and final nest change/treatment

6:00 – 6:15 5-6 martins here….most high.

6:30 Added another bunch of bird netting to pole attached to safety bar.

July 26, 2011 (8)

2:30 pm 15-20 martins here briefly – but 7-8 around consistently for a good long while and 5-6 around all early afternoon. Mostly SY-M Landing on other houses alot.

July 27, 2011 (10)

12:30 – 1:30 pm At least 10 martins here in the early afternoon. At least 1 ASY-M. Saw an SY-F with lefty earlier.

July 28, 2011 (11)

4:00 pm. Saw 10-12 martins sitting in Knapek’s tall dead tree. 3-4 seemed to be begging. There many have been 1-2 families using the tree. They would come in and look at the nesting pair.

July 29, 2011 (11)

10:00 – 12:15 pm 10-12 martins all over House #1 but also 3-4 on other two houses. A lot of ruckus and flying around!!! Pair is feeding. There is some fighting. Saw some birds go to the ground.

2:30 pm About 10 martins sitting in Knapeks’s dead pine. Some are HY. Grouping area.

Aug 1, 2009 (7)

2:00 pm Nest check reveals 5 nestlings! 1 klepto flew out while I was checking other side of house for wasps.  It was probably from a family using the Knapek tree as a grouping area the day before. There have been 5-7 martins around all day.

Aug 3, 2011 (8)

11:00 am Male is vocalizing loudly at elevation of about 200 ft. At 11:30, there are 4 martins sitting on the Lincoln St. wires. All four landing on the house as well. Thought I saw a second female. Loud vocalizing!

1:46 pm  There have been 7-8 martins around for the past two hours. They fly around, sit on houses, sir on Lincoln wires, etc…

2:20 pm  Still 7-8 martins loafing. 1 or 2 HY chased by parents. 2 martins land on Castle by garden. It is in full down position, only 5 ft. off ground! Nestlings (3) on porch – practice flapping.

4:54 pm  6 martins flying around vocalizing at about 75 ft.

7:00 ish Still several martins flying around vocalizing. Heard a martin in flight give the begging call – not sure if it was a Painter fledgling but it may well have been! Saw a falcon fly thru and several martins after it.

Martins flying and vocalizing all day – a dream come true!

Aug 4, 2011 (8)

11:00 Counted 8 martins flying around at one point, but mostly 3-4.

11:30 Painter HY on perch rod! Apparently it has fledged. Dad takes off and it follows! It was sitting on WH-5 porch, looking like it was wanting to go in. Still at least 1 HY being attended by female in WH-7

12:30 pm  Looks like at least 2 have fledged. Two HY were on WH-4 or 5, and one with head sticking out of WH-7, then a bit later I thought I saw all 6 (parents and young) on phone lines across street.

2:30 pm One HY sticking head out of WH-7

3:15 After very little activity around house, 8 martins flying around. Frank says he thought he saw 2 more martins fledge.

 Aug 5, 2011 (8)

1:45 pm.  Female came to get eggshell. Very quiet. Looked and listened for a while. Landed on gourd porch of House #2.

2:50 pm  6 martins (5 SY-M and 1 ASY-M) land on House #1 and vocalize loudly and fight a little and fly around a lot. NONE are Lefty or the family, which is what I thought they were at first!

6:30 pm Lefty and 2 HY going in and out of WH-7

7:45 pm 8 martins here including Lefty, his mate, 3 HY, and another SY-M

Aug 6, 2011 (8)

7:30 am  One HY on House #1

12:15 pm Saw 5 martins on Lincoln wires, including 3 HY. Then saw 5-6 martins flying around  housing, including Lefty and another SY-M. Two martins on Castle perch even though house is down. Then saw 2-3 martins around WH-7

1:10 pm 2 martins flying around

(2-11 pm – work)

7:10 pm  When I came home for lunch, I counted 7 martins on or flying near the housing. 2 were HY and 2 were SY-M. They were very vocal and flying low around the back yards. Most were landing on House #1 – east side – where the pair nested. An SY-M peered in WH-7 then went in. It may have been Lefty. Frank said he counted as many as 8-9.

Aug 7, 2011 (8)

8:00 -10:00 am? Frank said there were 8-9 martins around in the mid-late morning

11:00 am. Got up. no martins around as of 1:09 pm

7:15 pm 5-7 martins flying around and landing on east side of house. Lots of noise.

Aug 8, 2011 (9)

~9:00 am  Frank said there were 4-5 martins around

4:30 pm 2 martins fly thru the site (this happened a few hours earlier as well)

6:13 pm 8 martins fly around the house then land in Knapek tree

7:35 pm  9 martins sitting in Knapek tree. Occasionally flying around

7:40 pm All 9 come down to housing and there are 5 HY and another SY-M. Some HY go into comps on east side of house. They fly off and land again multiple times.

Aug 9, 2011 (8)

2:30 pm  Lefty, a banded HY, and a banded SY-M all show up and loaf on House #1

3:07 pm  I think it’s Lefty and mate on top perch of house #1, preening

3:24 pm  Now they are on porch of WH-7

7:10 pm 8 martins in Knapek tree – 300 ft. east of site, about 80 ft. tall

7:38 pm 1-2 martins on house #1 – they are starting to come down

Aug 10, 2011 (8)

7:30 – 8:30 pm Ended up with 7-8 martins on House #1. Thought I counted 5 HY. Lefty too.

 Aug 11, 2011 (20)

7:09 pm. 8 martins in Knapek tree! [See photo right]

7:50 pm 20 martins in Knapek tree! [See photo right]

Aug 12, 2011 (8)

8:00 pm 6-8 martins land on house #1. Lefty, 4 HY’s and the female among them. Three HY’s jostle on WH-6 porch, clowning and jockying for position. I see 3-4 HY go into WH-7 eventually.

Aug 13, 2011 (7)

7:51 pm Counted 6-7 martins. Most landed on House #1 at around this time and HY went in almost right away

Aug 14, 2011 (6)

7:05 – 7:50 pm Counted 6 martins flying around and sitting in Knapek tree. Saw one land on house but flew off again. They had not come in by 7:50 pm which is when I had to go back to work.

Aug 15, 2011 (1)

8:00 pm. I hear a martin and go outside. The martin flies from the area of the house, vocalizing loudly, and then comes back several times, diving sharply towards house #1, continuing to vocalize. He goes right into WH-7. I didn’t see any other martins or martins in the Knapek tree. I have a feeling this may be the last evening I see any. It has been a spectacular summer!

Aug 16 & 17 – No martins!

The pair that nested in my backyard in 2011 was a dream come true and the culmination of many years of martin conservation work. The dream began in 1981 when my Dad and I erected the first crude martin house in the backyard of my childhood home, 800 ft down the street. In the intervening decades, I interviewed old martin landlords, experimented with martin attraction techniques, and scoured journals for any helpful tidbits of information. In 1998 I took a job with the PMCA and developed an emergency feeding technique that has saved thousands of starving martins, increased breeding success, and revolutionized martin conservation.  In 2001 I took over management of the Saxon Golf Course colony in Sarver, PA, which was barely hanging on with about a half-dozen pairs or less. By 2005 this colony was at 100% occupancy with 28 breeding pairs. I displaced nine nesting pairs, causing 1 pair to re-nest at the Lock 4 site in Natrona, PA, eight miles to the south and about 1 mile from my home. By 2011, I had also grown the Lock 4 colony to near full occupancy and displaced 10 of 40 pairs, causing one pair to nest at my site just up the hill in Natrona Heights, PA. In addition to erecting, maintaining, and managing the housing at these colonies, as well as performing nest checks, nest replacements, and trapping House Sparrows, I made innumerable trips to both colonies to provide supplemental feedings during cold, rainy weather. At Lock 4, both houses needed to be relocated. I roped them off and worried during intensive reconstruction work being done at the site on several occasions. But through it all, the martins endured and prevailed.  And so came the summer of 2011 – a surreal summer. I had waited 40 years to host breeding martins in my own backyard. The wait and the work was worth it; the martins had come back to Birdville.

This article is dedicated to the memory of my father and mother, the late Victor and Mildred Kostka.


Maximum number of Purple Martins known to be at the site on given day: (Note key event dates and discuss reasons for spikes, such as fledging/independence at other colonies)


May 14    3
May 15    0
May 16    0
May 17    0
May 18    3
May 19    3
May 20    3
May 21    0
May 22    0
May 23    2
May 24    1    LEFTY ARRIVES
May 25    2
May 26    3
May 27    3
May 28    3
May 29    4
May 31    3

June 01    3
June 02    4
June 03    2
June 04    3
June 05    3
June 06    1
June 07    3
June 08    2
June 09    5    2ND DISPLACEMENT AT LOCK 4
June 10    6
June 11    8
June 12    10
June 13    5
June 14    10
June 15    10
June 16    5
June 17    10
June 18    4
June 19    3
June 20    3
June 21    3
June 22    3
June 23    4
June 24    2
June 25    6
June 26    5
June 27    6
June 28    4
June 29    4
June 30    6

July 01    4
July 02    5
July 03    5
July 04    5
July 05    5
July 06    5
July 07    5
July 08    2
July 09    4
July 10    2
July 11    2
July 12    2
July 13    2
July 14    7
July 15    4
July 16    2
July 17    4
July 18    3
July 19    2
July 21    10
July 22    5
July 23    12
July 24    2
July 25    9
July 26    8
July 27    10
July 28    11
July 30    –
July 31    –

Aug 01    7
Aug 02    –
Aug 03    8
Aug 04    8    FLEDGING BEGINS
Aug 05    8
Aug 06    8
Aug 07    8
Aug 08    9
Aug 09    8
Aug 10    8
Aug 11    20   FLOCKING
Aug 12    8
Aug 13    7
Aug 14    6
Aug 15    1

additional photos to take/add:
photo of mirrored cavity
google map of 514 painter (show trees removed)
Castle with decoys
locust seed pod
color band