Update On Late Nest Martins at Rehabber

I believe the critical period is over and the 2 purple martins from the last late nest will survive. As of yesterday, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary reports that they are eating and gaining weight. It appears as though my efforts to keep them hydrated has paid off. My hopes that they get released back with the colony are dashed however as the day that I removed the most critically thin and dehydrated nestling was the last day that the martins were here in any significant numbers.

It is quite apparent that they were all returning because of the nestlings in the one nest, almost as if to keep them company. Though the parents of the other successful nests did not contribute with feeding the nestlings, they did return as if tied to the colony site while it was still active. Once the nests were empty, they were obviously released from whatever ties they had to the location and have most definitely moved on. Yesterday I counted 6 martins on the wires for less than 5 minutes. They did not land on the housing at all which leads me to believe that they were not my birds, only passers-by. Today there were none. And so the days have passed since the nestlings were taken to the rehabilitation facility.

Unfortunately this does not bode well for the nestlings/fledglings, as far as their survivability post rehabilitation. Without parents to instruct them on feeding, their chances are poor. But there may be a new hope for some rehabbed nestling martins that miss the opportunity for the post fledging instruction period that they usually receive from their parents. In a post on the PMCA forum, a purple martin conservationist in California has had positive, albeit early results from a radically new and controversial theory in the rehabilitation of nestling purple martins. Check out the thread HERE.

In short, it describes how in past years in banding and releasing into colonies, nestlings that required rehabilitation, that none had been recovered. But last year, 3 nestlings that were rehabbed were “taught” to catch flying insects in a large flight cage. These 3 purple martins were them banded and released. This year one of the 3 birds was sighted in the area having obviously survived and returned from migration. This just may be a huge turn in the current thinking in rehabilitating purple martins. If this hypothesis is correct purple martins may very well have new hope when it comes to purple martins that miss that critical post fledging instructions. Rehabilitation that may have been in years past-delaying of the inevitable, may very well beĀ  a new beginning for these birds.

Many thanks to Daniel Airola, from Sacremento, California for this important information.

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