Beware of Wet Nests!

I recently posted of theck, nest change driving rains that we have been having. Several severe problems are making themselves evident. First off, on the lettered gourd rack, I apparently drilled the air vents on the backs of the Troyers incorrectly as water is wicking inside the gourds of several of them. Even the nests that I changed just 2 days ago needed a another nest change. On Troyer Horizontal Gourds you have the option of drilling 2 air vents in the backs of the gourds. One has to drill them at an upward angle to keep the rain from blowing inside the gourd.  I beleive my problem to be that I did not drill them at a steep enough angle. Not that it is a huge amount of water under the usual circumstances but this last week and a half of crazy rain has pushed all of Murphy’s Laws to the limit.

I wanted to make sure that all are aware of the vital need to do nest checks after such rains and to be prepared to do nest changes. A wet nest can spell disaster for your nestlings and only spells trouble. It is a problem that is easy to fix but can cause huge  losses in a short amount of time. Only 2 days since the last nest change and when I opened the gourd that seems to be the worse off, the nest was well on its way to being a putrid mess. The nestlings feathers were damp and dirty. I cleaned the nest out thoroughly and I believe they will fair well with continued nest checks through this bad rain. My only concern is that a nest is approaching fledge time and that means nest checks will slow down to prevent premature fledging. I am tempted to bring the rack down tomorrow and caulk the air vents closed to prevent any further issues this season.

Unfortunately the nestling in gourd “E” with the cyst/mass on its abdomen did not fair as well. Though the nest was dry the nestling was dead for at least a day and was very smelly. Though it almost appeared sleeping, it did not look peaceful and the 3 other nestlings in the gourd were huddled as far away from the stink as possible. I can only imagine what would have happened if I was not doing nest checks. I disposed of the poor baby and checked the other which seemed none the worse for wear. 

The take away? DO NEST CHECKS!Unless there is a nest that is close to fledging, I do not believe that you can do too many nest checks. As long as you try to oblige your birds with a decent time of the day to do the check, you can not go wrong with checking the nests daily when a problem is suspected or in this case of problematic rain. If you are fearful or unsure of how to do a nest change and want to watch a video of a nest change being done click HERE.

In death there is often life and with the death of this poor nestling a new nest of 3 nestlings was discovered. 3 eggs and now 3 nestling huddled together (in a dry nest-thank God) reaching up with mouths open. The miracle of life makes all the stink and disgusting mess soooooo worthwhile.  I will do this as long as I live. Hopefully I will instill the same love of Purple Martins in my sons and they will carry on in my stead.

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One Response to “Beware of Wet Nests!”

  1. Carl Says:

    I really enjoyed your video of the nest change and shared it with friends as well. Good job! I have never had to do a nest change (YET!) and hope I do not have to. I did have one nest get wet this spring but that was before the ASY’s laid eggs and I had no trouble changing the wet material. The pine straw is an EXCELLENT material. Sometimes, the birds will haul in pine bark mulch and that gets and stays wet.

    I, like you, use the 5% Sevin Dust (1/4 teaspoon) and have never had any problem with mites in those condos/gourds. I forgot, one year, to treat my tree swallow gourd and it did get invested with mites before I realized what was happening. I was able to save the young TS though with a late treatment with Sevin Dust.

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