Posts Tagged ‘eggs’

Nesting is Beginning!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Finally after many long weeks the purple martins are starting to go to the tree tops and pull at needles and bark. All compartments are taken by ASY males and though I have seen SY males I do not see any that have been able to steal away a compartment.

I am hanging a few old gourds on shepherds hooks and though these gourds are barely 4 1/2 feet off the ground, I am sure they will be taken. Every year I get a pair to take up residence in the shepherds hook gourd so this year I added 2 more. Hay, why not? If they are desperate enough to nest in some of the houses I see them in,. why not a shepherds hook. Of course I use a predator protector to keep raccoons and other creepy crawlies from getting an easy meal. This picture was last years ASY takers and they fledged 4 (if I remember) from this gourd. Every morning there is a few ASY males giving tours to interested ladies but at this point many are still playing musical gourds so I can’t tell if they are serious. But I will let you know.

Speaking of serious, the first egg of the 2010 season has been reported. On March 27 in the Orlando area. (Congrats James M!) Mine usually follow by several weeks.

Nest Check, Hawk and a surprise!

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

I have had a busy day so without further adieu-the nest check!

Gourd #1- 5 eggs
Gourd #2- 5 eggs
Gourd #3- 4 twodayolds & one pipping egg
Gourd #5- 5 eggs
Gourd #6- 6 eggs
Gourd #7- 1 onedayold and 3 eggs
Gourd #8- 4 eggs
Gourd #9 -5 threedayolds
Gourd #10- 6 eggs
Gourd #11- 5 eggs (on nestcam-due to hatch 4/16!)
Gourd #12- 4 eggs

Gourd A- unable to find any eggs (previously had 1)
Gourd D- 1 egg               Gourd J- 2 eggs (had 1 egg on 4/7)

Excluder gourd -5 eggs

Natural horizontal gourd – 5 eggs

Sunset Inn compartment A – 6 eggs            Compartment F -4 eggs

AND the shepards hook gourd (located some 35 feet from the gourd racks about 5 feet off ground) with 2 eggs

For a grand total of 69 eggs and 10 young.

The Hawk

purplemartin attacking hawkAs usual, the red tailed hawk continues to make lazy attempts at catching one of the martins. I am not very good at raptor ID, so for all I know, it is a immature hawk practicing. The attacks always frighten and always send the martins up in a flurry of purple. He sat on the top of the purple martins favorite slash pine and was punished for his impudence! Martin after martin dove and harassed till he eventually flew off in disgust. He almost seemed embarrassed. Unfortunately, I am sure he will recover and visit again. Come fledge time, I am already making plans to sit out on a lawn chair and babysit. For today perhaps the hawks are busy chasing down mockingbird fledglings that keep finding their way into our garage…much to the chagrin of their parents.

The Surprise

close up eggI had a series of firsts for today. I witnessed my first pipping egg, which is simply put, an egg in the process of hatching. It is pretty amazing and very slow. The nestlings little beak is just visible through the small hole that it has pecked through the shell. The nestling will have to slowly chip at the egg, the entire circumference of the egg. Since this is the last egg in this nest, there is no danger of the shell becoming encapsulated. An encapsulated egg can cause the death of the nestling inside and should be watched for. During nest checks if portions of the shell remain in the nest, you should remove the pieces. These egg shells can fall over unhatched eggs and trap the nestlings inside-encapsulating them within.

My other first was 2 eggs discovered on a Shepard’s hook gourd. The first year I put up housing for purple martins, the first birds that landed on it were Tree Swallows. Now at the time, I did not know that the Tree swallows were only migrating through, as south Florida is a bit too far south for them. I put up the shepards hook as a “just in case”. I placed it about 35 feet from the purple martin housing and every year I get a male who claims it. Last year a pair built a nest but no eggs were ever laid in it. I think it was just an extra nest built by a pair that nested in one of the other gourds. This year appears to be different. I checked the shepards hook, more as a courtesy, not really expecting to find anything, and lo and behold!!! 2 shiny white eggs! The Shepard’s hook is not more than 5 feet in total height. It has an aluminum stovepipe predator guard, that I wax every year. And now it has 2 eggs! Time will tell if the eggs will be tended to. Perhaps they were just dumped there. A female needing to lay eggs but not having a mate, nest, or the inclination to tend to them. But there they are. I hope they will be OK. It does go to show how martins will overcome many “imperfect” site issues for the sake of being within the safety of a large colony. As most people will tell you that the ideal height for a purple martin nest is at LEAST 10 feet, 12-15 even better. So a 5 foot Shepard’s hook is a stretch.

As I did todays nest check I looked up at one point and saw well over 45 birds flying about. I was dumb-founded and I must say it was an impressive site. As always, my heart skipped a beat.

Blog contents and photos © 2009 S.Halpin/

Nest Check: We Have EGGS!

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

This wasn’t really the first nest check of the season but it was the first with eggs. I guess until there are eggs I don’t really count them as nest checks. But today the games begin!

3 nests have a grand total of 5 eggs. 5 beautiful white precious jewels holding the tiny little mass of yolk and albumin that is awaiting the warmth only a mother Purple Martin can bring. They are sitting and patiently awaiting to be joined by brothers and sisters, waiting for the gentle touch of their mothers brood patch.

The exact numbers so far.

Gourd #3 with 2 eggs

Gourd # 7  with 1 egg

Gourd #9 with 2 eggs

All Troyer horizontal tunneled (SREH) gourds and all ASY pairs.


I also failed to tell you all that yesterday was the Fiesta de la Golondrinas in the City of San Juan Capistrano in California. (Golondrinas being the Spanish word for swallows)

 It is home to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano that became famous for a legend of swallows that return to nest within the mission/church itself every year. As legend goes the swallows nests were being destroyed by locals who didn’t think much about bird poop. The priest at the local church (the mission San Juan Capistrano) told the swallows to come to his church and find shelter and a home there. Ever since the birds faithfully return to the mission to nest and raise their young. Please check out their website at

Raccoons in our Midst

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Putting up Bird Houses to some is a very benign act. It gives some a warm fuzzy feeling but beyond the act of putting up the house in the first place, there is not much thought regarding the matter. This is not me. When I (and many others) put up a Bird House, there is a sense of responsibility that takes over. Some may say that what ever happens to the birds once the house is put up is, “part of nature.” I respectfully disagree with that.

The true course of nature is altered the moment we put up a bird house. For example, the fact that we brought starlings and sparrows to North America was a huge act against nature. Nature, or living with nature, would not manifest itself by people cutting down tree snags for aesthetic purposes. So when one speaks of nature and its course being altered my thoughts are, I am an advocate for nature and the creatures that are put at a disadvantage due to our actions. When I put up a bird house it is my property and I will protect it as such. Now about those raccoons!

Raccoons are an amazing animal. Though wild, I am sure that had Native Americans wanted to domesticate it, they could have. Only Raccoons would serve no purpose. Wolves were domesticated to herd livestock. Their protective nature was a great advantage. Even cats that serve no functional purpose are useful for their companionship and affectionate nature. But Raccoons? I mean, they are cute with that little mask but other than stealing food, what do they do?  They are survivors and super adaptors. They prosper anywhere and are around in abundance. Think you don’t have raccoons around? You would be surprised.

Alas, raccoons are in my yard. Apparently my Eastern screech Owl has been the first victim of this masked maruader. On the grass, out by the Screech Owls nest box, I found an egg. Not a chicken egg either! My Screech Owl lifted it’s head up from its nest box to see what I was doing as I looked at the broken jewel of an egg. The little Owl dipped its head back down, away from view. To me, the act of eating eggs is the most disgusting thing I can think of. DO I eat eggs? Sure. But remember that eggs in the store are not fertile. This little egg was alive at one time with a small miracle growing inside it. Then along comes this thief and commits infanticide! Or with a bird is is nestlingacide? hmmmm. Whatever the name, it disgusts me. Now my thoughts travel to my Purple Martins and how safe are my birds with those vermin coons around?

My CUENT gourd rack has a 4″ section of PVC around it and my Sunset Inn house has a plastic “stovepipe” type of guard. Strange but now that I now the Raccoons are so close, I do not trust them. I am almost in a panic state. Thoughts of midnight raids and unspeakable Purple Martin tragedy sneak into my thoughts. Other than the predator guards; what can I do? Well, this is what I have “heard”.

1. Let my dog out often. (unfortunately, he is not much of a protector)

2.Keep ammonia soaked rags or moth balls around the perimeter of wherever I don’t want raccoons.

3.Think about installing motion activated lights.

4.Don’t leave the garbage cans/pet food outside.

5.Trap and call the Animal Control folks.

I’ll let you know what happens.

Blog Copyrighted: S.Halpin/

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 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.

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 /

Nest Check April 9, 2008

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Nest check finally! Done late in the day, it was met with much protest. I checked all nests 15 eggs in 3 separate nests have all hatched. 1 nest is due to hatch tomorrow. There are another 26 eggs that are in 5 nests. 2 nests are completed and seem ready for eggs. Another few compartments seems to have nests in earlier stages of development.

One again my brave little girl in gourd #2 (a Combo Plus gourd) sat with her 5 precious babies while I did their nest check. I looked and saw them all piled up and smiled as they reached their heads up begging for food. She sat motionless and stayed at her post for the entire time.

Blog Contents Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin /