Where is the Rain?

2 days of pregnant clouds and not a drop of water. The neighborhood ponds are drying up and the wetlands at some of the areas of Grassy Waters Preserve look more like scrub land than swamp. For hours the sky was black and thunder could be heard in the distance. The clouds swirled but not a drop fell here.

 It seems like there has been a bustle of morning hour activity at the purple martin housing ever since the babies have started fledging last week. I am not sure if some of the activity is from other area colonies or my own purple martins. They swoop in with zest and proceed to make themselves quite the nuisance. Peeking in compartments, being scolded fiercely by protective parents, vocal and joyful in both song and flight they are everything that is fun to watch about purple martins. Though a bit mischievous, I have witnessed no serious fighting.

The nestlings on the nestcamare big and ready to go at any time. They are busy flapping about in the gourd, stretching and preening their new flight feathers. Preparing themselves for a maiden flight. There is always at least one with its head looking out the front of the gourd and the others stuck inside looking about or napping. Today they are 26 days old and they are officially old enough to fledge at any moment. The mother comes to the opening and perches for some time often bringing no food, which signals that they are indeed ready. The parents will decrease feeding as fledging approaches. This technique serves 2 purposes. First, it decreases the attractiveness of the nest with its “room service” so that the babies will want to come out to feed. Secondly, to decrease their weight which can be more than an adults. Talk about baby fat! Try getting airborne with all that extra weight though.

 I am still postponing nestchecks on this rack due to the amount of babies ready to fledge and I have been unable to do a nestcheck on the other 2 units due to the thunder.

European Starling fledglings have come around, chaperoned by an adult. One was as close as a foot from the repeating S&S nestbox trap but never landed on the trap itself. Of course I was seriously disappointed and it reminded me that I must go back to Green Cay Nature Center to further observe the gourd rack there. My terrible luck with trapping this year along with the population explosion locally, has brought me to a new level of sadness for our native birds.

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