OPMA Fall News 2019

We had our last meeting of the year on October 19th at Orchard View Golf Course.   We had a smaller than usual turnout but those attending were able to give their final fledged counts. 

Overall it looks like the Martins had a good season.  Hopefully, everyone will be able to submit their final tallies to John Balga (martinman@hotmail.com) so he can finalize this year’s statistics.  It will be interesting to see how they compared to past years.

As many of you know, Richard Carr resigned from the Vice-Chair position last June.  We now need someone to step forward and take over this position.  We also have three director-at-large positions whose terms are now up.  If you are interested in any of these positions, put your name forward at our first meeting in February.  If we have more than three individuals interested then a vote would take place at our meeting in April.

We participated in Hawk Fest this past September for only one weekend.   Because of a severe windstorm the first week, Hawk Fest had to be canceled the first scheduled weekend.  Even though it was a shortened Hawk Fest, we were able to talk to a lot of interested people about having a colony on their property.  Hopefully, we created enough interest that they may join our organization and start their own colony.

This storm also caused a great deal of damage at our site at Holiday Beach.  We lost the gourd rack and our castle’s pole was bent.  John Balga contacted Nature Canada about this situation and they have agreed to donate a new pole for the gourd rack.  This will save us quite a bit of money because the OPMA is responsible for maintaining this site at Holiday Beach.  We were in the process of removing the castle because it was getting old and two new T14s were put up this past spring.  We will be discussing the future of this site at our next board meeting because of the flooding that has occurred this past year which makes it difficult to monitor the housing.

We depend on our dues to pay for all our organization’s expenses, one of which is the maintenance of our vital website.   Membership fees of $20.00 are due at our first meeting in February.  You also can pay them electronically to Al Hamill or send him a cheque if you are unable to attend this meeting.   (See OPMA Board listing at end of this newsletter for contact information.)

Our meeting dates in 2020 for February, April and October have been set:

February 22nd in the Willow Room at Colasanti’s Tropical Garden,

April 18th at Orchard View Golf Course,

October 17th Orchard View Golf Course. 

We still need to finalize dates and locations for our two member-host meetings for May and June.   If you are interested in hosting one of these meetings let us know by the February meeting so we can make plans.    The June meeting is our pot luck meeting so you should be aware that we will need tables to eat at and possibly a barbeque to cook the food

Well, that’s about all the news I have.   I would like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a joyous upcoming holiday season!   I hope we will see you in the New Year!

Paul Hamel

OPMA Summer News 2019

Hello, OPMA!    I hope that you’ve all had a successful year with your Martin colonies.  

Once again, we had a slow start for the arrival of the Martins because of cool and wet conditions.   It seems that in many cases the Martins did not start to arrive until May and they were late making their nests and laying eggs. 

From early reports, it appears that some colonies had major increases and some had fewer returning Martins.  Hopefully, it will average out to be a good year for the Martin with overall numbers staying the same or increasing.  We won’t know for sure until we take our final counts.   We need to make sure to pass our information on to John Balga so he can keep track of the statistics and make a comparison to other years. 

I need to let you know of the resignation of Richard Carr from the OPMA Board as of June 22nd.    Richard was our co-chair and this position will need to be filled in the near future.   I want to express appreciation to Richard for the time and effort he gave to the Board and OPMA.   He always attended the board meetings and was able to look at ways to move the club forward.   He will be greatly missed but fortunately, he plans to remain a member of OPMA where he can always give his ideas to make our club better.

We had our two member-host meetings in May and June.   Marie-Anne Knapp hosted the one in May and proved once again to be a gracious host.    We had a large turnout for this meeting.   Marie-Anne was able to show her off her colony and demonstrate how she feeds the Martins.   Thanks once again Marie-Anne for having us over at your house.   Our next member-host meeting was at Henry and Elaine Wolting’s in Blenheim.  This was our annual Social and BBQ Potluck.   The weather could not have been better, the food was great as always, and everyone was able to enjoy the company of other members.   Henry demonstrated his new power winches for raising and lowering his housing and provided information on how to maintain a viable colony.   Thank you to Henry and Elaine for having us over at your house and for making this member-host meeting another successful event!

We do plan to attend HawkFest with a booth as we usually do.   However, the venue has been moved away from our usual location (close to the hawk tower and our PM housing), due to the severe flooding which has persisted for so long.     We will attend the first weekend of HawkFest (September 14-15), and will then determine whether we will participate for the second weekend, as we usually do.   We will keep everyone informed.

Our membership remains very good at around 60 paid up members.   We will continue to be an advocate for the Martins as long as there is an interest in our organization.  

Our next meeting is on October 5th (9:00 am) at Orchard View. 

Hopefully, I will see you there!

Paul Hamel, Chair.

OPMA Spring News 2019

It’s that time of year when we begin to think about the return of the Martins!  Many of us will start to take a look at our housing to make sure it is ready for the returning Martins.  Some of us will also be thinking about feeding the returning birds if the weather turns nasty.   Mary Wilson will be ordering crickets for this purpose so if interested contact her.  Let’s just hope that we will have good weather in April and May so the Martins have an easy time preparing their nests and laying their eggs.

We had our first meeting at Colasanti’s on February 16th.   45 people were in attendance along with Aly Hyder from Nature Canada.    Susan Carr, Henry and Elaine Wolting along with their son Jeremy (the photographer who put the video together) gave a very interesting presentation on the roost on Walpole Island.   Thank you to them for taking the interest to document this most important roost.   

Speaking of roosts, I will also mention that John Balga and Ron Delcourt monitored the Point Pelee roost in August and early September last year.  If you’re interested in visiting this roost in August 2019, John has invited our members to come out and have a look.  All you need to do is let him know if you are interested. 

By the way, John is still accepting fledging numbers from last season.  You can email him with your colony numbers if you have not already done so.

We have a number of events planned for this year.   Again, we will take part in HawkFest during the weekends of September 14th -15th and September 21st – 22nd.    NEW! à  On May 11th we will have a display at Holiday Beach Conservation Area to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day.   Our club will be the main host for this event at Holiday Beach.  If you can help out with any of these events let me know so I can add you to a volunteer list.

The OPMA is run by a board of nine members.  For 2019, it is as follows:

Paul Hamel, Chair … Richard Carr, Vice-Chair … Mary Wilson, Secretary … Al Hamill, Treasurer.   

Lyle Papps, Dennis Shady, Fern Bellavance, Audrey Festeryga, and Marianne Knapp are Directors at Large, and John Balga is Consultant to the Board. 

All these individuals have volunteered to be part of the board and to meet occasionally to make plans for our association.  Thank you to them for all that they do for our club.   In 2020 some of these positions will be up for renewal and this will be an opportunity for others to get involved as members of the board.

Each year we have two member-host meetings.  This year the dates are May 25th & June 22nd.  Henry and Elaine Wolting have again volunteered their home in Blenheim for the June 22nd meeting which is also our Pot luck / BBQ get together.   Mark your calendar for this, because in years past it has been a highlight for our club!    We still need someone to host the May 25th meeting.  If you are interested, please let me know.

We keep adding new members to the OPMA!   Because of this interest, our club remains very viable and is able to be a positive voice for Purple Martin Conservation.  Our finances remain strong because of our membership dues and we are able to carry on with our club functions.   I want to give a thank you to all our general members for your continued support.    We can only be an advocate for the Purple Martin if our club remains strong.

Finally, I once again thank Mary Wilson for her volunteer role in putting out our newsletter.  It is the one way we are able to keep in touch with each and every one of you.  Paul Hamel, Chair.

Remember to check the wonderful OPMA website maintained and provided by John Balga,
our website manager.    www.essexpurplemartins.ca   or  www.ontariopurplemartins.ca

The Feed Store in Harrow carries many Purple Martin products.   Phone # is 1-519-738-2261 and they are located in Harrow at 2564 County Road 20 East.
The PMCA (Purple Martin Conservation Association) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Purple Martins through scientific research, state of the art management techniques, and public education.   
The PMCA forum does not require sign-up, is totally free, and is a wealth of information from landlords all across North America.      www.purplemartin.org
Nature Canada:     Nature Canada’s Purple Martin Project is part of an international initiative between university researchers, naturalist groups, Purple Martin landlords and citizens to help protect and recover aerial insectivore populations.    The OPMA is partnered with NC in this endeavor and they are the recipients of our end-of-season colony statistics.     http://naturecanada.ca/what-we-do/bird-conservation/purple-martin-project/

OPMA Fall News 2018

 Where has the year gone?  It seems like we were just getting our housing ready for the arrival of the Martins and now we have been busy cleaning the housing for their arrival next spring!    I hope all is well with everyone as we now get ready for the upcoming holiday season.

It appears that we had a good year from some of the final reports that have been received from many landlords.    Many are reporting an increase in their colony size or at least maintaining what they had last year.    Hopefully, once the colony statistics are in, we will have a better idea of how we did in comparison to years past.    If you provided your colony stats at our final meeting, thank you.    If we don’t have them yet, please make sure you pass them on to either John Balga or me so it can be added to our statistics for 2018.

This year our general meetings were really well attended, with an average of about 40 members at each of our five meetings.    This shows a great deal of interest in our club and in what we are trying to accomplish.   We have a healthy membership of 78 paid-up members for 2018 – an increase over the previous year!   Our association with your continued support will be a strong advocate for the Purple Martin in years to come.

This past year we held our first ever MartinFest.    Many people attended the event at the Colchester Harbour to learn about the joy of having a Martin colony in their yard.   It was a great success because of the volunteers from our association that gave the time and effort to make it successful.   We have decided to put it on again in the summer of 2020.   This will give us time to reflect on how we can make improvements so we can have an even better festival in the future.

In September we participated again in the annual Hawk Festival at Holiday Beach Conservation Area.   We were able to talk to a lot of people about the OPMA and the reasons for having a colony.   We feel this is a really good venue for getting our message out to the general public, and hopefully, we’ll be able to continue taking part in Hawk Fest in future years.

We will be meeting again for our Annual Meeting on February 16, 2019, in the Willow Room at Colasanti’s, Ruthven.    I hope to see you there, and I also hope that each and every one of you will have a joyful holiday season!

 OPMA February News  2018

Hello everyone!   February is coming to a close, our Martins are well on their way back home to us, and we probably all are already thinking about and planning for their return to our colonies.

The upcoming year is going to be an extra busy one.  Once again, we have five meetings planned for our membership.  Two are member host meetings which always offer a great opportunity to see members’ set-ups on their own sites.    Thank you to our members who have volunteered for these:   Marie Anne Knapp (Essex) in May, and Henry & Elaine Wolting (Blenheim) in June – which is also our annual social gathering for the club.

We once again will be involved with the Hawk Festival at Holiday Beach in September.  Also, for the first time, the OPMA will be hosting a Martin Festival at Colchester Harbour!     This looks to be an exciting event where we can promote the importance of maintaining Martin colonies.

Many members of our club have been busy preparing other sites for the new season.  John Balga has donated a T14 for the Colchester Harbour site.   He supervised the installation of a new pole and will be putting up the house in early March.    Ron Delcourt has converted the castle at Holiday Beach to 12 compartments, painted the swallow housing and added ventilation to the 16 gourds.    Mary Wilson & Jim Sudds are donating a new Gemini gourd rack at the Orchard View Golf Course to replace the old house that broke last year.   When we have our meeting in April, have a look at this new set-up.

John Balga and Al Hamill have worked on several new roll-up screen displays for the club which were on display at our February 17th meeting.

Our association continues to grow, and we have, as of this writing, over 50 members.   The annual dues of $20.00 are now being accepted for 2018 up until the close of the April meeting.   The money collected from dues allows us to continue with our various projects which promote the importance of the Purple Martin in our world.  Without your support, these projects would not be possible.   Even if you are unable to attend all or any of the meetings, your commitment to the OPMA is greatly appreciated.    OPMA will carry on as long as we have members who are willing to support the association and its various projects.

We hope to see you all at our next meeting on April 21, 2018, at Orchard View Golf Course!

OPMA Summer News 2017

It has been a while since a newsletter has been sent out so a lot has happened during this time. I will detail some of the items in this newsletter submission.

Once again, we had issues with the weather early on in the season. This slowed down the arrival of the birds by about two weeks but they did return and some landlords have reported larger colonies than last year. Some landlords like me are reporting smaller colonies but the Martins are doing well and will produce many newly fledged birds. It is always important to remember that each newly fledged Martin is one more bird added to the survival of the species. So keep up the good work and we should see Martins for many years into the future.

A lot has happened at the Holiday Beach site. We have partnered with HBMO through a memorandum of understanding that lays out the responsibilities for OPMA and HBMO for the site. HBMO will be responsible for monitoring the site since they will do all banding here, and OPMA will continue to own and take care of the housing. Nature Canada donated two T-14s for the site and they were installed in April. Now we have 16 gourds, 1 grandpa, 1 castle and the two new houses mentioned above.
We did have a disaster at the site on May 30th when the gourd rack was toppled over during a very powerful wind and rainstorm. Unfortunately, all 15 nests were lost but because of the work of our members Al Hamill, Ron Delcourt, Richard Carr and Claude Radley of HBMO, the rack was put back up in two days. Many Martins returned and rebuilt their nests so all was not lost. The last report I saw from Claude indicated that there were 41 pairs at the site.
On July 8th Nature Canada along with members from HBMO and OPMA under the direction of Kevin Fraser from the University of Manitoba placed 25 Motis on five families of Martins. Hopefully, we will start to get some feedback next year on just what these Martins are doing during their stay at Holiday Beach. (See “As published in the Windsor Star” in this newsletter”). Many birds both adult and young have been banded at the Holiday Beach site thanks to Claude Radley and his crew from HBMO. I also am glad to report that Ron Delcourt who is a member of OPMA is learning how to band under the direction of Claude Radley. We have one other bander in our group from Walpole Island and that is Richard Carr. He has been busy banding many birds on the Island. Banding, of course, is one way we can keep track of the birds for many years.
We had our annual get together at Henry and Elaine Wolting’s house in Blenheim on June 24th. We had great weather and great food. All 38 members who attended had a great time socializing and were able to discuss their colonies with other members. I would like to thank the Woltings for being great hosts and all those who brought the food that was enjoyed by everyone.
On July 26th John Balga made a presentation at our site at Colchester Harbour. He was able to present information about the club and the site to members of Essex Blooms. Thank you, John, for representing the club at this event. I might add that Marianne Knapp, John Balga, and Tim O’Hagan monitored the new site at Essex Arena in Essex. It had one pair and from the last report fledged one Martin. The Colchester site had all six compartments filled and it fledged 18. Thanks to Al Hamill for making a final nest check to confirm the numbers.

OPMA will be setting up a booth at the Holiday Beach Hawk Festival on the weekends of September 9th and 10th and September 16th and 17th. We will need volunteers to help out at the booth. If you feel that you would like to help out on one of these days let me know at 519-738-3476 or kp_hamel@live.ca so I can add your name to the list. This list is given to the park so all our volunteers can get in for free. I hope to have the listed completed by the end of August so let me know as soon as you can.

Finally, our club continues to maintain good membership. We are all like-minded people who want to see Martins continue to thrive in our area. We are here to help those who want to get started in the hobby and to promote the joy of being a landlord. Just remember, we as landlords play a very important role in maintaining the population of the Martin by providing them a place to raise and fledge their young.
See you at our final meeting of the year at Orchard View Golf Course, Ruthven September 30, 2017 ………….. 9:00 am

August News 2016

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with each of you! This year turned out to be a good year for some landlords and a very disappointing one for others. The weather again played havoc with many colonies so their numbers were down from 2015. I think that we should keep in mind that no matter how many martins you fledged, each new one adds to the survival of the species. 2017 is fast approaching and hopefully, it will bring a lot of joy to our many landlords.

To keep track of how Martins are doing in our area, it is important that we submit our fledged results each year. John Balga keeps track of these results and submits them to Nature Canada. They, in turn, can look at the various colonies and make a determination on the success or lack of success that the Martin is having. Thus far John has received approximately 28 replies but would like to finalize the 2016 report and send it into Nature Canada. If you have not sent in your colony’s results, you can contact John or me so a final report can be made.

The club continues to move forward. We had five meetings this year and participated in the Holiday Beach Conservation Area Hawk Fest. A colony was set up at Colchester Harbour with four pairs fledging approximately 18 young. The colony at Holiday Beach continues to grow and will be a location to promote our club to the public. We have 45 active members who are doing their part to keep Martins’ presence in our area. I can just say keep up the good work and the Martin will continue to be seen and heard.

Remember our first meeting will be at Colassanti’s, in Ruthven, in the Willow Room. The date for this meeting is February 25th at 9:00. Richard Carr will be making a presentation on how the Purple Martin is being tracked as it makes its journey to and from Brazil each year. You will be able to order breakfast if you wish. The club will provide coffee and baked goods to enjoy while we have our meeting. Mark this date on your calendar so we can have a great gathering of landlords to start off the New Year.

At this time on behalf of the board of directors, I would like to wish each and every one of you a joyful holiday season and a happy New Year. See you in February!

September News 2015 by Mary Wilson 

It’s clean-up time for landlords. What a job – smelly, buggy, and often stuck like cement to the bottom of the gourd or house. Some of you have probably done this chore already, but for those of you who are waiting, like me, for cooler weather, here are a few tips and safety considerations for tackling this job that has worked for us over the years. Work upwind if possible? Getting a faceful of who knows what isn’t any fun. Wear a mask. Without knowing all the potential hazards existing in a used martin nest, the feather sheathing alone could be a real irritant if breathed in (that’s the white, powderlike stuff that blows around when a nest is removed). Wear gloves, or at least have wet wipes with you. You’ll appreciate them. I’ve found these tools to be useful with both houses and gourds: An old CD, broken in half, works well to scrape the curvature of a gourd. A “dish” brush with a long handle is very handy to sweep out the loosened debris. Spray bottle with a water/bleach mix. Many landlords use this to spray into crevices to kill any hidden insects. Some landlords feel that it also acts as a deterrent for insects during the next season. What one landlord says: “I take a spray bottle with a 10 percent bleach solution with me, and an extra gallon of the mix in a jug. Don’t get the mix too strong as it can burn your hands, and eye protection would be wise, and old clothes that you don’t care get spotted. I spray down the nest first, then pull out most of it, and re-spray and wipe out with old rags. I hope the bleach mixture protects me as I progress. The greatest benefit to the housing may be that it really brightens up the exterior.” A garden claw breaks up the nest into smaller pieces that can be pulled out through the access port on a gourd or through the entry of a house. A small scraper with sharp corners is a great tool for cleaning the rooms of Trio houses – I use the small countertop samples that you can pick up from any home improvement store. These are small enough to manipulate inside the compartment and strong enough to really scrape them clean. 6 How clean do they have to be? It’s important to remove the old nest, and with it, most of the parasites that would otherwise overwinter in the gourd/house. Also, old nests that are left can cause deterioration of the house or gourd. As far as the martins are concerned, they don’t have to be squeaky clean. A little dirt is not a deterrent. Some people wipe or spray with a bleach solution (see above), which may help to eliminate any remaining mites or fleas after the nest is removed. If you can get a hose to your housing, you can blast out the crevices and loose dirt. How to store them for winter: If you have the time, energy, and storage space, they can be removed from the poles and stored out of the weather. No doubt this lengthens the life of housing and gourds. Otherwise, houses and gourds can be brought down to the lowest position on the poles. Remove all doors, floors, and access caps and store for the winter. *** Trio doors that have been modified to SREH by means of a plate riveted or screwed on present a particular problem: mites can overwinter between the two pieces of metal. The same problem could exist in gourd caps that have liners that are left in place. Immersing in a bleach solution, or pouring boiling water over them as they stand vertically in a plastic container will get rid of all the critters. (But to be safe, store them in an outside area rather than anywhere in or attached to the house.) Gourds left on the racks (no lids), and houses left open (no doors/floors), are scoured quite clean by the winter weather and are bugless and ready to go in spring. (This is what we have always done at the two golf course locations we take care of. It works very well.) It also prevents occupation by sparrows prior to martins returning. Natural gourds have special considerations about which I am not qualified to speak. Our member and natural gourd expert Lyle Papps would be able to assist anyone with tips on cleaning, preserving, and storing their natural gourds.

Martin News May 29,  2015

The Spring season has been quite difficult for the martins this Spring with cool and sometimes cold conditions with the mercury dipping near the freezing point. Landlords have reported that the ASY martins have completed or are completing their nests and that they are beginning to lay their eggs. These past two weeks saw a noticeable increase in egg production and many nests have six eggs with the odd nest containing 7 eggs. Wow! That is a large clutch and we hope the parents can care for that many mouths.

The sub-adults have arrived this week (May 21) in large numbers according to Dennis Shady to his home in Harrow.  He has observed a lot of pairing behaviors on the part of this new group of arrivals as the young males try desperately to attract mates. There is a general large noise volume and commotion as these young birds try to set up house.

In some colonies, according to Rob Cornies, many more males have returned than females and at some other colonies more females than males. Hopefully, they can attract new mates or move on to find what they are looking for or stay the season as single birds. He also noted that early hawk attacks have taken their toll on his unwary martins. This quick attack by Cooper’s hawks is quite typical as the ASY males vocalize their locations for kilometers-just what attracts hawks to a  local colony and future feeding station. It is often difficult to break this hawk behavior once it begins and is certainly disheartening to see a colony decimated.

Early reports from Lou Kociuk in Port Rowan indicate that the martins were not returning in large numbers and that he is waiting for many more to return. He sent me some photos of his newly arrived martins and I’m sure there will be more coming.

Doug Grant from London, Ontario contacted me to share that his martins returned to the Double Taverner that he built last year. He also constructed a brand new Single Taverner to put on the local golf course. He hopes to attract more martins to this area.

On May 28th I  made my weekly visit to our satellite colony again to make note of its status. I was happy to report that 25 of 30 compartments had nests with eggs or just nests and leaves. The first tally of eggs is around 132 so the season is starting off quite well. I did not see any sub-adult males here.

I will keep you posted as more information comes in.

Martin News April 1-7, 2015

It has been a while since this section has been updated but it’s purple martin time!

The weather is somewhat co-operating and the tree swallows have been steadily arriving over the last week to claim their nest boxes. Don Bissonnette informed me that he has made his bluebird rounds with his team to clean and wash the inside of the boxes and he reports that there are  bluebird nests that are half completed. Here in Essex, I’ve seen a male bluebird in my yard but the pair that took up residence last year and fledged young on two separate occasions has not been seen. Tree swallows are visiting this nest box despite my best efforts to discourage them by blocking  the entrance. Up to four pair have now visited my yard over the last week and claimed their nesting boxes. We’ll see how they fair over the next few weeks.

The colony site at Holiday Beach is now in position and there are two housing systems as well as a gourd rack in position offering 24 compartments. The tree swallows have claimed their nesting box for the third year in a row. Dennis and I adjusted the housing last week and cleared the weeds and brush below to deter any HOSP or rodents from hiding . All the nesting compartments are outfitted with SRE and their nesting chambers have straw and pine needles for bedding material. I believe the martins should be arriving the week of April 6, 2015.

Many OPMA landlords have reported their first arrivals and I thank them for their due diligence as they have readied their housing for these arrivals. Gilles Breton was the first to report a martin and a tree swallow at the Woodlands Hill Golf Club. As always, his enthusiasm for these arrivals is so overwhelming.

It is interesting to see how the martins have arrived over the past week in various locations-Morpeth, Forest, Niagara Falls, Long Point etc. There is such a scattering of these early arrivals. The weather will be a key to their survival over the next few weeks as the weather temperatures fluctuate, rainy and snowy conditions come and go. If the martins cannot find food, they will certainly perish so it is important for everyone to monitor this next generation of martins. Unfortunately, Susan Dobbin, Niagara Falls already reported that one female martin died after arriving at her colony. It was a three year old female who was banded in Pennsylvania as a nestling. How she came to Sue’s colony on the Niagara river is a complete mystery. As the car travels she was 160 miles from her natal colony.

Rob Cornies is in the process of adding a new T 14 to his colony set up which he purchased from Aaron Miller in Norwich, Ontario. Aaron and his uncle attest to the use of this Troyer house as both of them have very healthy colonies and the housing is heavily used.

While doing yard work on Monday, April 6th Dennis Shady also reported that he had  to raise his housing as the martins circled overhead at about 10:00 a.m.

Don Bissonnette also reported a single male singing on his TV antenna as he hastily tried to get his gourds ready. Thereafter, he went to the Ford’s to fetch their Trio Castle out of the shed and with Nancy’s  assistance got the housing in place. Nice to see that Don is helping the Ford’s and keeping them in step to the martins.

It is so interesting to hear from our landlords at this time of year. everyone has a story to tell as to how they saw their first martin. Keep the stories coming!

Martin News December, 2014

Our interest in Purple Martins, especially from our colony sites here in
Ontario,  has been growing  exponentially upon reading about groundbreaking,  first-ever news on “Tracking Purple Martin Migration to Brazil and back” by Dr. Bridget J. Stutchbury in the 2009 Spring issue 18(2) of thePurple Martin Update with light collectors called geolocators. Nature Canada has been involved in research to determine  the reasons for the decline of purple martins in Eastern Ontario. They have deployed several geolocators in the eastern region of our province and anticipate that the martins will return this Spring, 2015 with some interesting travelogues.

The OPMA earlier showed interest in deploying geolocators from our satellite site at Holiday Beach, Amherstburg but was unable to raise sufficient funds for the project but has not given up as we look forward to increasing migration data from this location in the province.

Several individuals have sent us several posts which can be read at your pleasure to see what is happening in the natural world. Some of the You Tube content is well worth watching. Many thanks to all of you who take the time to contribute to our website.

Martin News August, 2014

Martin News July, 2014 

Martin season officially over! Oh no! Now what are we going to do? Not!

Martins are still busily taking care of their young at various locations as of July 21, 2014 but the very late sub-adult chicks have a few more weeks to develop  before they leave their housing units. As of last week, sub-adult eggs were just beginning to hatch so colony inspection evidence proves that this will be a delayed season just as the sub-adult arrival season was.

At some colonies further east, Norwich, Ontario nests and egg hatching were at various stages of development with some young ready to fledge or fledged already. Aaron Miller, Norwich commented that his earliest birds began to hatch on June 22. This would have them fledge  at the end of the second week of July. Bill Kociuk’s colony at Port Rowan were well advanced with several young hatched during the second week of June. Many of Rob Daub’s colony in Forest, Ontario  were well developed and ready to fly as of July 6, 2014. Most martin inspections revealed very healthy young that were developing according to the PMCA fledging weight chart indicator. This is a very handy tool for evaluating the martin baby growth along with the photo growth sheets. Don’t forget to check your young for blow fly infestations.

Over 1000 young martins were banded this summer and the Walpole Island Project results are not included in this current figure. Many kilometers and hours on the road saw martin banders in Niagara Falls, Port Rowan, Norwich, Forest, Charring Cross, Morpeth, Harrow, Essex, and Walpole Island. It has been one of the most earnest banding efforts to date.

In the next few weeks Purple Martin roosts will begin forming throughout Ontario and North America. The one at Walpole Island will be one to keep on the radar map. It typically shows the doughnut ring early in the morning. Others should develop near Erie, Pa just across Lake Erie.

Keep us informed of any news you may have concerning a roost in your area. I’m sure many would like to view it or a pre-staging site.

June 6, 2014

Martin News

The weather has been wonderful this past two weeks and indeed most colonies have settled down and are now setting on their eggs. The tree swallows and bluebirds have hatched and are busily feeding their young.

After Paul, our president sent out the survey to all of our members I am happy to report that the martin season is certainly going well so far. Members report that their numbers are up at various locations and nest building has eased into egg laying as mentioned before. Some PMCA members reported that their numbers were down and Terry Suchma contacted me to find out how our colonies were doing due to some very poor reports from Michigan.

Our public colony at Holiday Beach continues to grow with many eggs now laid in all the completed nests. 19 pair show promise this year if all goes well. Our new gourd rack continues to attract visiting martins and boasts two nesting pair so far and several nests.

Lou Kociuk’s colony at Port Rowan is doing exceptionally well with his four  gourd systems. Lots of 6 egg clutches and some 7 egg. He has over 50 pair at his site. His ideal setting by the lake offers spectacular martin habitat.

Al Hamill’s  colony is doing well with an increase in number despite earlier concerns. Tim, Albert  and Alex  failed to attract any nesting pair ; only visitors-domage.

Gilles, Aad, Don, Vincent, Phil ,Don, Marcella and Carolyn report increased numbers while Lyle, Mary, Dennis, Bob,Joe, Marieanne,  Paul, Loretta, Rob, Frank and Wes report some drop in colony numbers. It will be interesting to see whether the numbers increase with new sub-adult attempts and how many survive the nesting process over the next few weeks. Jacques  and Linda from Tilbury have two pair hanging around their location but their nest building is just beginning.

Banding will begin in the third week of June and continue until we are able to band. We will have some large colonies to band this year especially Aaron MIller’s colony in Norwich, Ontario. Get in touch with Rob or myself if you would like to have your colony banded. We will be surveying our members at our June 21st meeting at Marieanne’s.

April 13, 2014


Today was a balmy day and Rob called me to join him in preparing the martin houses at the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory site. The weather has been very nasty but we realized that the sooner we got there the better. Rob confirmed that he would be able to pick me up within an hour so it was time to review what we would need to have just in case when we arrived at Holiday Beach: nest bedding material, extra doors, extra door plugs, wrenches, pliers, scraper, clothes pin pieces for the Trio door clips, new pulley and bolt, wd-40, portable grinder, park entrance fob etc…..gate key…

Wow, you never know what you will encounter when you return to a site but what we realized was that we had to replace the pulley on the Trio castle as the plastic had disintegrated, Fortunately I had a plastic and a metal pulley.

When we arrived at the site we were greeted by numerous tree swallows, purple martins, mute swans, Canada geese and a host of other passerines. What a beautiful spectacle!

We lowered the first house and added nesting material to create the pre-nest look. This would really make the house looked lived in. The house needed no repair and was quickly raised to its original orientation. Rob had already lowered the castle and was disassembling the unit and removing any unwanted material. Together we quickly removed the house from its ground post and removed the old pulley assembly. We both agreed that the metal pulley could be fitted to the top of the pipe but that the top of the post would require some quick cutting with his Dewalt  19 volt grinder and still accommodate  the top perch.The pulley and perch were ready to go. All that was required was to return the pole to the post mount.

The nesting compartments were filled with bedding material and the doors were returned in a timely fashion as the martins complained over our heads about the sudden intrusion. Most of the martins left when we began working on the house to feed and returned in short order when everything was returned to its original state.When we return in the next few days, we will return with two predator guards for the martin housing as well as one for the tree swallow housing.

When we sat back and gazed at the housing we were astonished to see how many martins were there and this is by no means a definite number as all the birds had not returned. The photos below are a snapshot of the Holiday Beach site ready for Spring 2014.


 What’s Happening 2014

The 2013 news information has now been moved to ARCHIVES under Martin News.

A Letter from Our Secretary

January 18, 2014

Hello everyone !

The PMCA scout map has 34 purple dots today !   They have been reported in 4 states, returning to Florida 11 days later this year than last.   Could this mean a later return to our neck of the woods?

Last year, our members Al Hamill from Harrow, and Susan Dobbin from Niagara Falls both reported a martin on April 2nd, the first returns reported to Ontario.    So by the time of our next meeting, we will be only about 2 months away from “eyeing the sky” for that familiar sight !

Meeting date:    Saturday, February 1, 2014 …. 9:00 am

Meeting Place:   The Willow Room, Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens, Ruthven

(As always, those who wish to order breakfast may do so in the cafeteria, and their order will be brought to them.)

 The first meeting of each year is a great time of sharing and getting re-acquainted. We have some “club business” to take care of, and “cricket orders” will also be taken that day for those who want them.   We have an extensive “lending library”, and a variety of information available on our display table too.

We hope to see you all there !

Mary Wilson

Secretary, OPMA

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