Posts Tagged ‘fledgling’

Purple Martin Nestling: Finding A Too Young To Fly Baby On The Ground

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Here is a question I received concerning a nestling found on the ground.

Q:

Dear PurpleMartins-R-Us:
I have some martins and a baby was pushed out by a SY male martin. I’m not sure which gourd the nestling came out of. I put him back into one of the gourds. Will he be ok if it is the wrong gourd?

A:

Simply put, as long as they are close in age it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Its always better to place in a nest of same or slightly younger nest mates, if same age is not possible. Never have the new member be the youngest, if you can help it.

But purple martin jumpers and what to do, is a complex questions and their are a lot of variables in order to answer this question properly. First of all, a Purple Martin Jumper (for those who do not know) are nestling martins that are too young to fly but somehow get pushed or jump out of their nest. They are referred to as Jumpers whether they jump or are pushed. The most important thing to remember is that if you do not discover why the baby was on the ground, it MAY happen again.In the above question it was a case of being pushed out, so the solution was simple. If they are pushed out by either another martins, then your chances of a repeat are greatly diminished! Be happy! But if the baby is truly jumping then the reasons needs to be addressed immediately to prevent another leap and to prevent the nestling from certain death. Purple martins will NOT feed babies on the ground.

We will look at the true jumper and what to do in an upcoming post.

Starlings and Fledgelings and Jumpers, OH MY!

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

So much news and I have really been negligent on the blog. My apologies but between helping customers of PurpleMartins-R-Us.com, 2 kids, a busy colony and a landscape project…I have been swamped!

Bad news is the BirdCam has turned out to be a huge disappointment this year. I invested more money and hired a “computer geek” who, in MY opinion, swindled me out of my money. I was very specific with what I wanted my streaming camera to be and instead ended up with what he felt was good enough. But enough said about that…

My landscaping project turned out pretty well. Nothing huge. Just redoing the front of the house which had become a snake haven. I moved 3 cubic yards of large egg rock (that’s about 3 tons worth) over the course of a week and achieved my goal of having the front be presentable. Many thanks to Lawrence over at http://www.butterfliesandwildlife.com/ who gave me some tips and ideas for the fountain. It is a disappearing fountain that recycles water as it flows down a stepped “mini river” of sorts. Though his is much more natural looking and longer, mine was created with basically stuff I already had laying around. A preformed pond liner, pond pump and hardware cloth. I only added the spitter from Lowes and the preformed stepped river portion was on CLEARANCE for $14! My husband admits it came out better than he thought it would. Of course, he is used to my projects…some of which turn out badly.
 


The purple martins are fledging all over the place. I think there are more youngsters flying about today than babies in nests. 2 skinny jumpers were found on the ground from a nest that I am sure the parents abandoned. Perhaps an Owl or Hawk got them. But I placed them in a low hanging gourd with youngsters in it. I could not lower the rack as so many nests were over 20 days old. For those that do not know, once nests are over 20 days old, babies can jump out during nest checks from fright. The PMCA recommends that you block off entrances to those nests that are over 2o days old…some say 22 days old by attaching a rag to a string then pulling out the rag once the housing is back up for a few minutes. Just wait 2 or 3 minutes for them to settle down and then pull the rag out. But since so most of my nest were over 20-24 days old, it just wasn’t possible. So I saw them begging and no one feeding them and watched helplessly until they jumped and gave them some Gatorade before sticking them in the new gourds. Remember, you can read about common purple martin emergencies and what to do at our store site PurpleMartins-R-Us.com.

Starlings took up residence in a flicker box located way to close to my house for the woodpeckers to be interested. But a pair of starlings did. Since no one else wanted the nest box, I let them nest and waited until they were incubating to catch them. I learned something very interesting about them. Once they decided to nest, I was hard pressed to see them both at the same time. They were very quiet, almost as if they knew that I was on to them. I did get a great pic of a starling nest. Very different from a martin nest. Of course, I could have pierced the eggs with a small sharp pin, addled (shook them VIGOROUSLY), or coated them with a thin coat of mineral oil, and let momma starling waste half a season.

Fledglings Take To The Air

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Over the last 3 days purple martins have been fledging left and right, taking to the air robustly without a hitch. I have witnessed several nests from both racks fledge and all the parents seemed to be ecstatic. The energy level of the colony is through the roof as the morning social doesn’t let up until well after noon. Birds are flying about in large swooping circles about the colony site. In groups of one youngster to several adults who seem to be guiding the birds into the sky. Several spots on the electrical wires seem to be gathering spots for the youngsters and the rainy afternoons are enjoyed by all. Just enough rain to cool things off but not enough to drive food out of the skies for long.

Three More Fly the Coop

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Three more nestlings became fledglings. It was the most painful thing to watch. Once again no parent in sight. I ran outside this morning and one of the larger nestlings had made it to the top of the gourd. It begged pathetically at every bird that flew by. I knew that if a Hawk, or one of the many Swallow-Tailed Kites saw him, he would be picked off. Luckily for me, I did not witness that. What I did witness was the begging that went on for about an hour. Sitting in the sun as the flock of purple martins would spook and fly up in a panic at the slightest disturbance and then settle back on the racks looking in and out of all the compartments. The showed great interest in the nestlings but no adult took pity and brought a morsel.

The Nestling that was sitting outside was visibly thinner than it should be. But the thinnest stayed in the gourd. Finally with a sudden burst the nestling took to the air and made a wide circle and easily gained altitude. It made an ungraceful landing in the Slash Pine and all the martins followed enthusiastically. Many of them also perched in the tree chirping and calling to the new fledgling. It was trying to keep a hold of the pine needles it was holding on to and at this point I went inside. I checked the nestcam and there still was the runt, chirping away.

I know that in theory that this fledgling had successfully fledged. My numbers get the benefit of another “plus” but in my heart, I don’t feel this nest will do well. Behind the eight ball there is a lot of catching up that needs to be done and I wonder if they will have the time to do it. Learning to fly is the easy part. Being in condition to fly to South America is another. I estimate that the number of visitors that I have seen will again drop withing the week. I would be surprised to see more than the occasional purple martin come by August.

I went ahead and went out with my boys and we did not return until the afternoon. Looking out I saw nothing. I looked with my binoculars, I saw nothing. I checked the nestcam and there was the runt. All alone. I still had some of the crickets and knowing how he was yesterday when I checked them I went ahead and lowered the rack. I again carefully slipped a mesh bag over the entrance so that he would not flush out. I took him out and my hopes for him fledging are nearly zero. Even skinnier than before his keel bone is protruding more than ever. I feel at this point that he is so malnourished that he wouldn’t have the muscle tone to even be able to fly. I gave him some Gatorade and am keeping him outside in a 5 gallon bucket hanging up an a peg. No snake or coon will reach him and if he wishes to fly out he can. But as I suspected, he has not attempted to do so yet. So Gatorade was given till dark and I will start again early in the AM.

My prayers are for his peace and mine.

One Missing of Last Nest of Five

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

My husband was outside hollering at me as I lowered the gourd rack. Thunder was cracking and the sky was way to volatile to be messing with the purple martins. But I had just gotten home with a few dozen crickets and the Nestcam was not very reassuring. It seemed like something was not quite right.

For those of you unaware of the current drama. The last nest of the season and the 5 nestlings within (now at 26 days old) have been suffering from diminished parental care. The ASY male curiously has been around on and off during the day but with no meal to offer the nestlings. The SY female also has been circling and feeding high above watchful but also not feeding the young. Last Saturday I took the skinniest of the lot (including a runt) to the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary. A few feedings and bolus of fluids given later, they were perky and I put them back in the nest. Today I could not watch anymore. So down the rack came.

I had left the rack only halfway down and placed a net bag over the opening so that no birds could fly out while I lowered. When I opened the Troyer gourd only 4 nestlings were inside. In a mad rush I fed the 2 skinniest but am unsure if the runt had caught up or if one of the older more vigorous siblings fledged at some point today.

Back to my husband hollering at me, “Do you want to get struck by lightening?” Came in between thunder  claps. My hair wet as a slow drizzle had begun to fall. In a rush I raised the rack back up and after putting everything away I pulled the sock on a string that held the nestlings within. They stayed put and mom and dad circled.

The thin keel bone of the skinniest nestling is disturbing to me and I should have kept him out and fed him over the course of the remainder of the day and tomorrow.

FREE Purple Martin Bird House Plans

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Call me a collector but I seem to be collecting quite a number of free purple martin house plans. Thanks to dedicated purple martin landlords such as John Balga and Bob n Jo, and thanks to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, I have put together a small collection of houses that the DIY can build. I even have plans for a gourd rack!

Of course, I am not the handy type so I have NOT made these houses myself. I guess that is why I started PurpleMartins-R-Us. If you are like me and can’t build a birdhouse yourself, check out this large selection of houses and supplies that utilize the latest in purple martin research and innovation. Believe it or not, I did NOT start this business to get rich. I did it so that I can do what I love. If I get rich that is nice but looking at my books, that won’t happen anytime in my lifetime.

So where can you get these plans? Go to the Free plans page HERE and enjoy!

If you know of any other FREE house plans for purple martin houses, please let me know. And please let me know how the house you build turns out. I would love to see it.

P.S. Tonight is the first night that all the fledglings have not returned at night to sleep in the Nestcam! Only one in there tonight. My season is winding down.

Fledged!

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Purple Martins on Nestcam gourd #11 have fledged!

It is official, they are flying around like maniacs. A bit unsteady but apparently without incident. The Nestcam was so dirty that it was hard to make out who was even in the gourd. I finally brought myself to lower the rack and in doing so flushed out a few straggler fledglings from gourds #11 and 12 but it had to be done. At approx 31 days old, I knew they would be fine. The Nestcam is now cleaned off and on gourd #4 which needs a watchful eye as I have not seen daddy helping and mom seems to be taking her time with feedings. The babies did not seem as plump as I would like and they seemed a bit bony so I will be watching this gourd closely to make sure that they are getting enough to eat.

Two of the nests are down right nasty and if it were not for a clutch of new eggs in gourd #8 (a renest attempt) I would have done a nest change. This was the first nest check for the numbered gourd rack in over a week so a complete check was long overdue. But to do a full nest check and then do a nest change also would take too much time. The nastiest of the nests is due to fledge within a week so I am considering leaving it be. OR I may go out tomorrow and bring the rack down and change the nesting material. I hate the thought of them in that mess.

Under the lettered gourd rack, I found a dead nestling. Approx 4 days old and it had been dead quite some time. It came from gourd H and the other 5 nestlings in the gourd seemed fine. The are about 8 days old. I will never know what was the cause. An SY male perhaps or just a case of natural death and the parents cleaning house. 

I am unable to check the telescopic pole as the nestlings in the aluminum Sunset Inn house are ready to fledge at any time.

In other news: There is lots of racoon feces on our patio and I am starting to get more nervous. A flicker has been cleaning out the screech Owl box since the owls are gone and one of the tidbits it threw out was a whole owl egg. I fear the owls did not have a successful clutch in my yard.

Partial nest check results (unable to check telescopic pole)

Total Eggs:  17 + (10 eggs unable to verify if hatched)

Total Young:  53 (Plus 15 on other pole?) 68

Total (active) Nests:  22

Fledged to Date: 28

Jose’s Martins #1

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Jose greeted me today with a hearty “Hola!” and an invitation to have his Jell-o. He only likes the red Jell-o and he only gets the green. He tells me he has made several complaints-to no avail. I could tell him that hospitals and “homes” usually never give red Jell-o but I decide to nod my head in understanding. He finishes off his lunch and I wheel him to the courtyard.

I had many questions reeling in my head to ask him. About his martins, what brought him to Florida, his life in South America, his family or apparent lack there of. Today though, we will talk of Purple Martins. A subject free of any sadness or memories that can cause pain. He talks of his memories of hundreds of thousands of birds flying free and his spirits rise like they are lifted up by the martins themselves.

Jose was a handyman by trade. Odd jobs, car repairs, unlicensed electrical work was his forte. He laughed at my reaction to at least 4 stories of how he checked for current to electrical outlets and light sockets. I suppose whatever investment it would take to purchase a volt meter was out of the question. He would stick his finger in the socket. My disbelief is still quite strong even after his vehement and at length explanation on the difference between amps and watts and volts and I don’t even know! But on to the Purple Martins.

All his houses were handmade. He would use scrap wood and made great use of wooden pallets which he found in large quantities. Legally, I hope. The wood was rather thin and of poor quality but with a slathering of paint would last multiple seasons before needing repair or replacement. The rough wood was well liked by the martins. I showed him photos of my gourd rack and he snorted, “They look like Calabaza.” (A spanish pumpkin) I explained they were actually plastic and that brought another snort. He tried to explain his housing to me and the best I could understand is that they were 2 story square, flat roofed box type houses with no porches and round entrances. He did make the nests accessible but had a hands off approach. Usually 8 compartments per house and they were about 10 inches deep. He never used “plans” and would vary the housing depending on his whims. He estimated, at his height of “Land lording” he had about 100 pairs. “Puedia pero no queiria”, he explained. (I could have but didn’t want to) When referring to having more housing and Martins. The ‘explative’ Halcon’s (Hawks) made my life a misery, he recounted in Spanish. This was the only time when sadness entered our conversation. He told me of a season when he had fledgling’s taking to the air daily, only to be met with deadly talons and beak. His solution? “I went over into my neighbors yard one night and poisoned those trees…then I offered to cut them down over the winter for free. I was a big hero and everyone was happy.” The legalities didn’t seem to phase Jose or concern him in the least. I guess when you are 80-something you have worse things in your past to worry about than a few trees. “Susanita, can you find me help to the bathroom?”

Of course Jose…and I will see you soon.

July 4, 2008 Happy 4th of JULY!

Friday, July 4th, 2008

I just wanted to wish all of you a safe and happy 4th of July. My kids are looking forward to the fireworks.

I took the house down and have yet to give it its final wash. It sits in the grass as a lonely testament to the martins departure. I remember last year I was so worried about the house as I still had babies in a nest. I was worried that the mother would abandon them from all the smoke and fireworks that goes on out here. Thank goodness we have had alot of rain. No need to worry about wildfires this 4th…or what the martins will think.

Speaking of Purple Martins. I saw 1 today. A lone martin on the wire for about 5 minutes. Then he was gone. I am being over run by Grackles. They are trying to eat me out of bird seed. A faithful pair of cardinals tries to wait their turn at the feeder, the 1 fledgling they bring is so ugly…but cute. I chase the grackles away and that buys the cardinals a minute or two before the grackles return. The baby cardinal begs relentlessly at the feeder only centimeters away from seed. The male parent hulls the seed and stuffs it in his beak. So cute.

Mr. Roberts tells me that only a few dozen Martins are returning to the Davie roost.

May 18, 2008

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

No sign of Beau today, but then again it is very difficult to tell them apart. Actually none of the parents and fledglings came around today. There is a ton of smoke from brush fires in the area that made the air thick and hazy. I wonder if that decreases bugs and thus makes it harder to feed? The busiest activity was in the AM with several SY males laying claim to the now empty gourds that the babies fledged from. I see no new nesting and I think that’s about it as far my colony goes.

Natural gourd #8 which had 3 eggs has hatched. The parents are busy with the ins and outs of feeding young. 2 gourds are ready to fledge and that will be the next buzz of activity.

On a business note: I have done a few Purple Martin comic strips. I think they are funny…you be the judge. Check them out at the photo gallery. Click on the photos link to the right.