Strong Martin Sites
Thank you, thank you to all landlords in Ontario who took a moment to respond to our call requesting their martin nesting pairs and fledgling numbers. 63 landlords from various Ontario locations reported whether they had martins or whether martins visited their sites and checked out their new martin house set ups. Some of these sites are strongholds for purple martin development in their areas and have demanded extreme management practices to maintain their numbers. Some of these sites are the only ones for kilometers with very few adjacent colonies. In other cases, these larger sites have enabled others to start the martin hobby.
Reasons Why Reports Not Submitted
Several interested landlords reported having martins but did not submit their report because they did not take counts for one reason or another. Some did not because of where their martin housing was located or because the martins had fledged before they could take a count. Some indicated that they did not do a nest check because they were away on vacation or because their colonies were located at recreational locations which were only monitored when they returned for weekend visits. Senior landlords also indicated that they were no longer able to lower their housing due to their physical condition.
A Sad Report
One landlord related a sad story to me indicating that he had martins over 30 years and then noticed that their numbers began to drop in 2013 after having over 40 pairs previously. His colony numbers dropped dramatically to 6 pairs in 2014 when just a handful of martins returned in the Spring. In 2015, no martins returned. He mentioned that he spoke to other landlords in his area who had a few or no martins . Feeling sad and disheartened he questioned why they had not returned. I reflected on his location and gave him possible reasons for his loss. Other parts of Ontario are also experiencing similar scenarios where this is has become the norm rather than the exception.
Why Are They Declining
As caretakers of this swallow species we must realize that martins can no longer be taken for granted nor can we assume that past management practices are acceptable . Ontario martins appear to be experiencing greater threats to day to day survival than in years past.
Climatic change (very cool/cold spring weather), pesticide use which has impacted flying insect development, increased predation by hawks, owls, cats, raccoons etc., greater starling and HOSP housing competition, unmanageable or poorly developed housing systems as well as roost predation may only be some of the possible reasons why this may be occurring.
Scientists are only beginning to scratch the surface for possible reasons for these declines.
Take a look at the following results and reflect on where the martins are effectively taking residence. If there is an absence of martins in a particular area of Ontario take note that this is not a total census of all purple martin locations in Ontario. Our sample size is just a snippit of what is going on and we are always looking for more input.