Archive for April, 2008

April 30, 2008

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Fledging time is close at hand. I have noticed a change in the behaviour of the 3 nests that are due to fledge on May 3rd. First off, the parents have cut down on their bringing food to the nests. They are gone longer and are less…frantic about bringing food. Secondly, there is a steady stream of Martins that come to the entrance of the gourds. They peek in and appear to be ‘talking’ to the young inside. I have already stepped up my walk-unders and hawk patrols. I also will not do any further nest checks on the gourd rack until the 3 nests have fledged. The house is overdue for a check.

My Owls are incubating, I believe. The male now sits outside the nest box and I assume the female is within. I will keep my hat on when I am out there. I here that they can get quite protective…

April 27, 2008

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

A male Starling haunting my Martin’s housing was the beginning of bad omens. A hawk attack this AM heralded more doom. A failed and abandoned nest of 6 eggs is now being investigated by occasional Martins. The Starling flew off with one of the eggs in his yellow beak. I had been watching the gourd hoping beyond hope that maybe I just added the days wrong and just didn’t see the pair returning. Whatever happened to the pair, it’s not happening in that gourd. Probably a hawk got the female. I remember when I checked the nest there was a green leaf on the eggs, like she was going to return shortly. But alas her eggs grew cold and dead and those 6 little babies followed their mommy up to the big bird house in the sky… What a downer.

Then the ASY male. Still sleeping on his porch. Oy, my ulcer…

April 25, 2008

Friday, April 25th, 2008

The second half of the nest check was done. Several nests being incubated, several fresh babies. The male ASY in a 6×6 compartment has taken to sleeping on the porch. Much to my dismay. With 5 eggs being incubated in the compartment, they are not taking any chances on breaking one of the eggs. I just hope he doesn’t get eaten by an Owl. When those eggs hatch it will be a source of much worry as any predator will be able to reach in easily and take the babies out. I will have to think of something I can do to better protect the male and his babies.

One thing is for sure. Next year all compartments will be 6×12, All gourds will be tunneled and ALL will have SREH. No round holes, even on my troyers which were all first to be claimed with the round entrances and tail prop.

Oh… and a pole with a winch!!! Now all I have to do is pick 6 numbers…

 On a sad  note, the gourd with 6 eggs that were over due to hatch, appears to have been abandoned.

April 23, 2008

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

martin7.JPGA long day, topped of with about 5 straight hours of painting. I get in the zone and “Zen” out. I finished a really nice piece that I have named “Martins of Corcovado” It is by far, my best work yet. A pair of martins in flight, the male with mouth wide open and head turned towards his mate. In the background a stunning vista of Mount Corcovado in Brazil, with a distant “Jesus the Redeemer” at the top of the mountain. I have never been to Mt. “C”  but I have been told it is spectacular. I am more than half way done with 2 other pieces from my martin house series. I am very pleased so far.

Now to jot down a note about my birds, I did half a nest check today and a nest was in the process of hatching. 3 freshly hatched nestlings and 2 eggs amongst them. Another gourd with 6 eggs is 2 days over due to hatch. I am concerned but a fresh leaf was on top of them so they appear to being tended to. It is in a gourd that is hard to see so I will have to make a bigger effort to watch whats going on with that gourd. Tomorrow a reporter from the local newspaper is going to come by and I will do the other half of the nest check then. The house is full of incubating mothers and new nestlings. I found 2 egg shells on the ground below the house. I must admit when I realized they were not chicken egg shells, my heart stopped for a moment. Then I noticed that they were cut perfectly in half-as if by egg tooth.

Now to sleep, perchance to dream.

April 21, 2008

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Today the neighbors got to see it. Me, in my robe, throwing magazines up in the air towards a red shouldered hawk on my property. The hawk wasn’t impressed. The martins were doing a fine job dive bombing him/her along with my mockingbird pair. Its attack must have failed, so I doubted he would attack from such an obvious vantage point; there was no element of surprise. Perhaps it knows that at some point fledglings will be hopping about, unable to fly. hmmmm I’ll have to use my noisy boys to keep any hawks away those days.

April 20, 2008

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

female martin & dragonflypurple martin and dragonflyMy Martins are busy and so am I. Both my children are ill and I have been back in the nurse mode. Staying up with my little one, running the humidifier at all hours of the night. My husband rewards me with no guilt trip as I spend hours outside communing with my birds. Yesterday I sat under the housing with my camera and shot about 100 pics. Some really nice, up close shots of the parents bringing all sorts of bugs to hungry mouths. Dragonflies, bees, wasps, and many other unidentifiable by my non-arthropod appreciating eyes. Amazing though, how with beaks full of biting insects, unflinching they pause on gourd rack to inspect me, then enter- nonplussed, to the demands of their lives.

A large hawk (red shouldered-I believe) was making wide circles over head. The Martins were in a frenzy and I was armed with a plastic child’s golf bag. In a death grip, I was waiting the moment that I would wave it madly in the air and advertise to the whole world…,”YES, I am INSANE!!!!”  Luckily, the hawk flew off. That’s showing HIM!

April 17, 2008

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

An overdue nest check was done. We had 3 days of very windy and cool weather. When its windy like that I try not to disturb the birds too much. So I waited and did it today.

My 20 babies look fat and happy. Their eyes are still closed so they just eat and sleep at this point.

The real shocker came when at final count I have 46 eggs! About 4 of those nests may not be done laying-so more eggs coming. Also, there is nest building in one of the natural gourds that was occupied by a lone ASY male. I suspect that the pair that was in the gourd hanging off the shepards hook relocated. Now a SY male attempts to attract a mate at that gourd. 

 All in all a great check.

On a side note, another capture of a dreaded Starling in the nest trap. It makes me smile when I think of how many Purple Martin eggs and babies I have saved at my site by controlling these pests. My husband doesn’t agree…he says it is survival of the fittest and if natural selection wants the Martin to go in favor of the Starling, so be it.

Of course, I disagree. What mother could let the town bully beat up her children? Isn’t that natural selection? If a person is stronger and more aggressive, it should conquer the weak, right? Of course not. Because we have compassion, we protect. Because we cherish diversity, we protect those that can’t protect themselves.

April 15, 2006

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

I love my life. I don’t know how many people actually feel this way themselves, but I remind myself everyday how lucky I am. I look at these birds and I think how tough and tenuous their daily existence is. If it’s not a hawk trying to eat you, bad weather starving you, Starlings trying to kill you or snakes climbing up to your home to eat your kids-IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING! I find an enormous pleasure in knowing that I have done something for a small creature of God. It is a similar feeling when I would take care of my sons when they were infants. So dependant they are on us.

Woodpecker in the Trap! April 14, 2008

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Another innocent catch of my home made Nest Box Repeating Trap!!! A red bellied woodpecker must have decided to check it out as the flicker box is home to a pair of Screech owls. It had shown much interest in the Owls nest box but the owls would have nothing to do with such an intrusion. So there it was, very mad and very noisy. My mockingbirds, whose nest is about 2 yards away from the trap, were not happy and calling out in protest. Of course I went straight out and released it…a few nips with a woodpeckers bill. That was a first! At least I got a picture before we parted ways.

My martins seem happy. We have been sick in the house so I haven’t been on the patio too much. Its hard to get an accurate count. It seems as though there has been a slight musical nests that has taken place. My only hope is that it is due to the Martins simply changing their minds; not due to hawk attacks. A ASY pair that had built a nest in my gourd on a shepherds hook is no longer there. It is now occupied by a lone SY male who is very vocal in trying to attract a mate. It may prove difficult as he is only about 4 1/2 feet off the ground and about 60 feet from the main housing.

Blog Contents Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin /

Nest Check for April 12, 2008

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

Another nest check today. Sometimes I don’t know if I do nest checks to count eggs, determine dates of hatch and all that….or just because I want to play with my birds. I checked my babies, all 20 are doing fine. And 26 eggs with a few nests that aren’t done laying. A few nests that appear complete and still seeing nest building going on.

I watched a female (SY) in a natural gourd going back and forth between her gourd and a 6×6 compartment on the house. There are 2 eggs in that nest and both martins were off feeding. Back and forth for about 15 minutes, I was starting to wonder if she was going to disturb the eggs as the compartment has a crescent opening. Thus the eggs have a short distance IF by chance they rolled around in there. I am not crazy about that compartment being so small. I opened up most of the compartments to 6×12 but I didn’t want to make any crazy changes from last year. mistake.

I am already planning next year. Another pole WITH A WINCH! more gourds, all SREH (starling resistant entry holes) and all compartments in the house 6×12.

On a business note, I finished a small circular piece that I am planning on using on my decorative plates. It came out very nice. A purple martin chasing a dragonfly…

Blog Contents Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin /