Posts Tagged ‘fledglings’

Purple Martin Orphans Take Flight

Friday, June 21st, 2013

At 26 days old and hitting about 47 grams, a trio of purple Martin orphans were released.
The hawk attacks have subsided and I even saw the much missed red shouldered hawk a few days ago. I hope that signals that the Cooper’s hawk has left the area. Enough damage was done this season by the Coopers who was hitting our colony upwards of 4-6 times a day. I was witnessing him taking ASY and fledglings alike from trees and directly from the housing.
Oh well…these 3 young martins got a full belly of live crickets and a dose of avian vitamins before taking to the air. I am proud to day they looked much better than when I found them on the ground after having jumped out of hunger & desperation. They were very much under weight and thankfully were able to recover. One nest mate who jumped 1 day after these 3 was unfortunately never able to gain enough weight and did not survive. Remember that taking a Martin fledgling to a wildlife rehabilitator should always be your first choice. If you need more info on what to do if you find a grounded purple, go to PurpleMartins-R-Us.com/Emergencies

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Perfect Storm

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Over a week of terrible weather due to the first named tropical system of hurricane season and a greedy Coopers Hawk has taken its toll on our colony. The hawk was coming several times a day. I witnessed him grabbing the sides of the houses and gourds and shaking them violently in order to try and flush out martins. He got 3 birds in one day that I witnessed. Of course, it could have been more than one Coopers…maybe a family of them for all I know. What I know for sure is that the large numbers of recently fledged martins are no longer being brought home at night and our numbers have plummeted drastically. There are about 4 nests being fed and night time is a much quieter affair. It is hard to say if the hawk has stopped coming by as often because there are less birds or there are less birds due to the hawk. I won’t take any credit in scaring the hawk off with our Scarecrow…but you never know.

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Nest Checks On Hold

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

When do you stop doing nest checks? When the nestlings reach about 23 days old. Some folks say 20 days old, but that seems overly cautious to me. All nest checks are on hold as their are tons of nests ready to fledge any day now. The nests that have fledged (about 8 of them so far) are creating much excitement as they peek into compartments and try to steal food from smaller younger nestlings.

A hawk made a late pass right before dark tonight and I am not sure if he was successful or not. The entire colony flew up in masse and with such an uproar of alarm calls that I am sure some bird was taken. Those early morning and late evening attacks are often quite successful. I will have to stay out later tomorrow and see.

I am not sure when the low hanging gourds are due to fledge soon. It will be interesting to see how the youngsters take to the air without having the advantage of height to get them airborne.

One Nest To Go-But Where is Mom & Dad?

Friday, July 10th, 2009

The last remaining nest is on the numbered gourd rack. Gourd #6 has 5 nestlings that I have neglected terribly. I had watched the ASY male and SY female feeding vigorously  3days ago. Yesterday I saw no feeding but the racks have been covered with purple martins for the entire morning and well into the afternoon. I was sure that I just missed them. Today I saw two little heads poking out of the front of the Troyer horizontal gourd. I was sure that the nest had been hijacked by a lazy fledgling as the two heads looked so vastly different in ages. So I lowered the rack.

When I opened the gourd I noticed it was pretty dirty, but I had seen worse. I proceeded to take everyone out and put them in the 5 gallon bucket to do a nest change. When I looked at the nestling however, I noticed that 4 of the nestlings looked to be about 20+ days old and the one runt seemed to be lagging way behind. He had the feathering on his body and head of a 16 day old but his flight feathers were about the same length as his nest mates.

On further exam, I found all of them to be underweight. The runt, worse of all and another nestling not to much better. All had an easily palpable keel bone. What is a keel bone? It is the bone in the center of the birds chest that should be surrounded by breast meat. The runts keel bone stuck out like a razor, skin flaky and dry. He proceeded to poop on me but then I saw his large hard abdomen. And when I say hard, I mean hard like a rock. And unless something is made of bone (or cartilage) there is nothing on a living body-human or animal that should be that hard. I kept him out of the nest and replaced the others. A Bot fly? A partial blockage? A tumor? I do not know what his problem is but I am vigorously re-hydrating the poor fellow.

Observing the nest is difficult with 2 young boys getting into everything but I tried to watch for mom and dad martin to no avail. The entire time I was checking the nests, changing, etc, there were no concerned parents flying about. I am beginning to think that an Owl has attacked and flushed the parents out. The nestlings being to young stayed safe in the dark far reaches of the Troyer gourd but without mom and dads care, they will soon expire.

Since Folke Peterson Wildlife Center is closing soon I placed a call to Busch Wildlife Center in Jupiter, Florida. I spoke to the director and if the nestling is still alive in the morning I will take him there. I will try to observe the nest to make sure that the parent/s are feeding. If not, I will remove them all and take them to the rehabber. It can be a case of late nest syndrome (I just made that name up) but all that means is that in very late nests it is not uncommon for one (or both) of the parents to loose interest in the process and slack off.

My first purple martin pair was a ASY male and a SY female. She worked her tail off and he would come by a few times a week. He would sleep in the gourd on occasion but basically left the entire raising of the clutch to her. She successfully fledged her 2 nestlings-all alone- after all the martins were gone.

But as for this nest, I am concerned.

Roost Makes News

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

The Broward edition of the Miami Herald ran the story on the Davie roost today. You can read the article HERE.

We drove down to the roost and did not see any martins but we were a tad early so it is hard to say if the roost has, in fact disbanded. It is just about time for the birds to move out but I can not say for sure. My 2 kids were quite tired and I could not bare to have them sit in the car for another 30 minutes to see if the martins would show up. I will have to depend on any of you that may life closer to update me and the blog as to the roosts status.

The story was very nice and a special thank you to the journalist, Julie Levin, who was so patient waiting to see “my” purple martins. Remember, there are photos of the roost at my photo gallery and there is also a video of the roost that is quite nice.

The babies on the nestcam have officially all fledged and the gourd was empty for most of the day. They are sleeping in the gourd tonight though. Looking so big and grown up. Thankfully all the babies appear nice, fat and healthy. Unlike some issues that seem to be going on up North our temperatures, though hot are not too bad and the rain is enough to cool things down plus keep the bugs abundant.

Purple Martin Emergencies-New ONLINE info source!

Many northern landlords are having serious issues with very abnormal low temps and landlords are reporting nest failures and dead babies by the dozens. Early jumpers due to the extreme heat in Texas has been reported and supplemental feedings can save lives. For those with babies that need care, our parent site, www.PurpleMartins-R-Us.com has a page dedicated to Emergencies INCLUDING how to give food and fluids to purple martins, contact info for Wildlife Rehabilitators and more. Feel free to check this information out.

©2009 PurpleMartinArt.com

Fledgling Shenanigans

Monday, June 8th, 2009

OK, the drought is officially over. The water has been coming down in buckets so much that the pool is over flowing and when you stand on our back patio you get the feeling you are on a ship or an island. Ducks were actually swimming by where dry land was only last week. Nest checks are almost impossible on the numbered gourd rack due to the standing water by the base of the pole. If I had a pair of waders I would have used them. The lettered rack now has too many nests close to fledging to do a check.

The purple martins on the nestcam have long since fledged and though they are still returning to sleep, most of the others on that rack are not, as per my previous post. Mornings are still quite active with visitors and fledglings flying about. Evenings are getting more quiet with all birds in the gourds well before dark.

The new nestling in the Sunset Inn house is missing and no further eggs have hatched. Now only 6 of the eggs (of eight) remain and of those remaining eggs most seem far along in development. The translucent pearly quality of the eggs is gone and the remaining eggs seem dark and heavy. If they are still being tended to, they should be hatching shortly but if they have been abandoned then they were very close to hatching and taking into consideration that one nestling did hatch, I am thinking the nest was abandoned very soon after the nestling hatched and the remaining eggs have since perished. Another terrible blow to the egg / hatch / fledge ratio. Next year I will make sure that the house is positioned so that I can view both sides from the patio. Though the birds seem to like the open fly way on the north side of the housing, I will have to make the change so that I can better see what is going on with the nests.

The bigger problem at the moment seems to be lazy fledglings. Several fledgelings have taken to hijacking nests to steel food from nestlings. It seems that once the fledgling is in the nest the parents can not distinguish these young from their own and will feed them. The spoiled brats sit and wait for their meals to arrive while pushing the smaller nestlings out of the way. On the last nest check there were 2 nests of younger birds 12 & 18 days old) that had older, already fledged birds stealing food from them. I evicted them but I wonder if this behavior had something to do with the little nestling dying. Somethings we will never know.

Purple Martin: CSI

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

I have prided myself in the attention I give my birds. Yes, I know, the Purple Martins are not truly mine but the care I lavish on them is appreciated by them. The trust they show me as I hoist the gourd racks up or down and they sit and wait patiently with bugs in their mouths. Waiting to take them into their gourds to feed hungry nestlings. Imagine my chagrin when over the past week or so an ASY male is dive bombing my head relentlessly. Within inches he strafes my head to the point where I fear for my life…or at least my eyesight. Going to the mailbox which is at the opposite side of a acre + lot even rankles him. What could have upset him so much to the point of this hatred he apparently has for me? Forever the OCD’er that I am, I have thought of a few scenarios.

First, I think this male may be the same male from the natural gourd that was eaten by the red corn snake several weeks ago. There are 2 new nests with nestlings that hatched in the last week and the male may well be one of those daddy’s. Could the ASY male that lost his family just be blaming me for his misfortune? The male survived that attack and definitely saw me removing both the snake and the one last remaining dead nestling from that gourd. Could he be associating the tragedy with me as I was the last one seen at the scene of the crime?

Perhaps it is a totally different male from one of the other new nests. There is a new nest of 5 eggs that on the last nest check (May 28) I found one of the eggs had been broken. Could have been the work of a clumsy fledgling. They seem to be going in and out of nest indiscriminately and getting their tails beat in the process. Maybe the male saw me remove this broken egg from the nest? I have heard that one should shield any dead young and/or eggs from the sight of other martins so to not upset them. Though I generally try to do this, there are times when I am sure some birds may see what is going on.

In short, I am not sure what to do other than wear protective head gear and eyewear whenever I am outside. Though I doubt there is any available treatment for my wounded pride.
Nestcam update. The 5 nestlings on the Nestcam are due to fledge as early as June 2. You can watch them leave gourd #4 on the Colonycam. After they fledge I will move the camera to a gourd on the lettered rack and at that time I may move the main Colonycam so that the Sunset Inn house and lettered rack are in view.


Nestcheck for 5/28

Young in nests remaining:  46

Eggs in nests remaining:   27

Total fledged to date:  66

©2009 S.Halpin/PurpleMartinArt.com

Mockingbirds Return

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Some time ago I blogged about the unfortunate mockingbird nest that was discovered by the neighborhood crows. The nest was picked clean by a large grim reaper of the bird world, the American Crow. I was sad as the mockers had given up a small roebelenii palm a foot off my pool deck, that they nested in twice last year for a small bush in the neighbors cat infested, unprotected yard. Perhaps they learned their lesson. Perhaps it is a different pair, but they have a young fledgling making his way out of another nest in a Roebelenii palm just outside my front door. They go berserk when my dog goes out the door for his “work” but are nonplussed by me going outside to check on them. As I went outside the door one morning I heard the parents giving their little worried call to the fledgling. The parents were up on the rain gutter looking down at me. It sounds like a soft short moan. Not an alert call at all. I looked around and there in the palm a foot from my head was the baby. Looking at me. I got my camera and took some pics of the little guy and remembered the mockingbirds of my youth and how they would have scalped me in short order if I had ever wandered so close to their baby. I am sure they know that I am a protector not a threat.

A recent study by the University of Florida that was reported in the  Proceedings Of The National Academy of Sciences showed that the mockingbirds DO recognize individual people, after as little as two encounters! Read about the study here. My thoughts of course ALWAYS travel back to the Purple Martins and I am sure that the same science can be applied to the martins as well. My only question is when will that ASY male martin STOP dive bombing me? I am starting to have my feelings hurt. Me? A threat?

Stormy Weather

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

The pregnant clouds finally broke their water and the rain has been relentless for the last 3 days. 5 minutes of sunshine then another “contraction” in the form of thunderstorms. I am glad and the birds seem to be handling the frequent downpours well. There is enough pause between and the storms are scattered enough that they are feeding just fine. A nest check is overdue on all racks and if the thunder stays away while the kids are napping, I may try to squeeze one in today.

The earliest of fledglings seem to still be returning to the gourds at night to sleep but it is hard to determine just what is going on. The other night on the nest cam I noticed what seemed to be 3 adults in with the 5 nestlings in Gourd #4. They were all sleeping peacefully but I doubt that was the case when the party crasher arrived.



Contact number for Folke Peterson 561-793-2473

Fledglings & Hawks

Monday, May 18th, 2009

The fledglings are clambering all over the gourd racks and the house causing a ruckus all day long. The rain has been falling on and off for the last 2 days and they seem to be enjoying the it. All it takes is me stepping on to the back patio and I set them off in a slurry of purple. The flock moves en Mass except for the remaining parents that are still feeding nestlings. More than half of the nests have fledged and my season will be starting to wind down shortly.

The Red Shouldered hawk is persistently attacking the colony and I can only assume that it has been successful, though thankfully I have yet to witness a successful attack. Yesterday I witnessed 3 such attempts that set the purple martin off in an alarming cacophony. I am sure that now having said that, I have jinxed myself and come tomorrow morning I will see the blasted hawk plucking a martin right before my eyes. Please knock on wood!

I have had so many “firsts” this year. First snake attack. First dead nestling on the ground. First pair to actually nest in the gourd hanging on the 5 foot shepherds hook. First nest check with my son. First time broadcasting the webcams. Never mind all the milestones and “firsts” with the website and blog. I already am missing my birds and can’t wait to show them again next year what a wonderful place this is to call home.

©2009 S.Halpin/PurpleMartinArt.com