Posts Tagged ‘sy males’

Sub-Adult Purple Martin Mayhem

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Last year I wrote a blog post called SY Males-The Enemy Within. It dealt with some of the facts and dangers that Purple Martins face from their own kind. SY or subadult male purple martins, arrive later than the ASY martins. They return home having survived the migration only to find all nest compartments full or guarded by protective ASY males. Eggs and nestlings run the risk of being destroyed or killed by the younger SY males. These males are so eager to breed that they will kill their own kind to force the females to start a new family.

Today I found the first casualty and my nest check results show that several nests have been affected by these SY males. The first tip off is a compartment previously claimed by a ASY pair is now protected by a SY male. Eggs or nestlings on the ground are dead give aways of course and the bickering and fighting can get intense. Though unless witnessed, you may never really know what was the cause of eggs or nestlings that mysteriously disappear, in the absence of sparrows and starlings, one can assume that SY’s play a part.

Can something be done about this? Well, many people wait until the SY males arrival to open up some of their housing. Others put up temporary type housing to alleviate some of the nest site competition like the Trendsetter Create-A-Rack Arms that  can be added on to your telescopic pole to make an affordable and easy spot to hang a few extra gourds in a pinch. Still others may yell and shoo those pesky SY males away.

In the grand scheme I suppose I tolerate this behavior in my colony as the ugly harsh reality of survival. If a ASY male is off guard and not protecting his mate and nest, his gene pool suffers. Those males that are dutiful in their jobs as protectors can drive away would be dangers and their off spring survives. It is a hard thing to witness and if I witness the tossing of a nestling I will intervene and return it to its nest. Is that what National Geographic would do if they were filming a documentary? No, they would probably film it happening and talk about the harsh reality of nature and watch death come slowly. Is that interfering with nature? Or is it our nature to interfere?

Nest Check Results:

Total Eggs: 34

Total Young: 124

Found Dead: 1

Pairs: 36

©S.Halpin/PurpleMartinArt.com 2010