Posts Tagged ‘gourd’

June 8, 2008

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

What a hot day. We were all out by the pool and my husband gave me a few minutes alone outside. He took the boys in to get ready for their nap. I was floating in the water looking up at the sky. About 8 of my birds were soaring and floating way up. Silently drifting around and around. Like Chinese paper kites. One following the other in a long lazy trail. Round and around…it was a serene and beautiful moment and I almost wished I could stay out there all day. Oh, no sunscreen! Ouch, time to get out and listen to screaming kids!

Gourd 8 is fast approaching fledge day. They are at the opening now. Peering out. It has a round opening and they seem so exposed. Next year I will do away with all round openings. I will try to use tunnels allot more also.

May 27, 2008

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Total pandemonium! There is so much fighting going on that all I can do is laugh. No bird is really getting hurt but the birds that fledged in the last week are keeping all the parents still feeding nestlings, on their toes AND apparently, quite annoyed. The fledglings are finding it difficult to find their way back into the correct compartments. They seem intent on entering compartments that have nestlings inside. It really isn’t funny but all the yelling and screaming was so crazy…I guess that is all you can really do. It seems like quite a few are still returning to their old nest to sleep. Even some of the ASY birds are returning to the gourds that fledged the first batch of young.

The sight of them though at sunset is amazing. I see them swirl and turn like the waves of a tide. Up flying out of sheer joy of flight. Singing and chortling to one another. Chasing and playing, it utterly amazes me.

May 25, 2008

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

To all the people that have signed my guestbook at purplemartins-r-us.com, I thank you. I got a ton of emails and questions from the article that came out in the local Newspaper. I wish all of you well and I will be in touch with you all again. My babies will need somewhere to nest in the coming years!

I did a nest check on the gourd rack today and it seems like my season is winding down. The last 14 fledgelings are still returning at sunset. But not all of them are sleeping in the housing. Right before the last birds turn in for the night a handful of birds fly to the north east. I presume to roost in trees. Several of the fledglings remain without their parents. I can tell because they are trying to sleep in a compartment that has nestlings and those parents are not too thrilled with the hitchhikers. Several beatings later they find other compartments to sleep in. There was one nest of 5 eggs that is due to hatch any-day and none have hatched yet. It is in the same gourd that had 6 abandoned eggs. I find it extremely unlikely that the gourd is cursed. No way that 2 different females in the same gourd were lost. So my new assumption is that the ASY male that has been protecting that gourd is sterile and his females are abandoning him. OK, I know that sounds a bit far fetched. Its either that OR I need to order some Holy water to take the Jinx off that gourd.

On another note. On this Memorial Day (As a former United States Army Reservist) I would like to extend a huge debt of gratitude to all the Active Duty, Reservist and Gaurdsmen who protect our Country now and in the past. I salute you and God Bless you!

May 24, 2008

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Rain 3 days in a row…it’s a blessing! The martins are doing wonderfully. 2 of the last 3 nests that have fledged are still returning to the housing at night. After I physically removed a fledgling from a compartment with younger nestlings-I have not noticed any more of this type of shenanigans. 5 more nests are due to fledge on the 27 through the 30th. So a nest check needs to be done soon. Like tomorrow! I’ll need to bring some string so I can pull out the plug for the entrance. I leave them plugged for a minute after raising the house back up. As the one nest is pretty close and I wouldn’t want to scare them out prematurely. It has been too long since I did a check on the gourd rack. Between getting my website ready for the newspaper article, my youngest going to the ER (via AMBULANCE-he’s OK), and the rain…I have been a frazzled mess!

I hope you check out the new link I put in the blog-roll. It takes you to the Palm Beach post video and article that they did on my site. Other than a terrible hair day caught on video, its pretty good.

I have not been able to distinguish Beau around my colony. It’s a shame he wasn’t banded as research in rehabbed martins is so sparse. I still think about him and I have wondered if the occasional lone martin sleeping in his old gourd is him. I have seen either a HY, female or SY male sleeping in that gourd a few times. The grainy resolution of the black and white nest cam makes it impossible to determine exactly what age bird it is. Only that it is NOT all purple.

Why do we call them purple martins? They are not purple. It drives me nuts. When I paint them I always get flustered getting the color right. I go for the deepest and richest of blues. It does seem confusing to paint a purple martin blue but in all the pictures I have taken, I still have not seen any purple. Now I am rambling. It’s almost midnight…so good night.

May 19, 2008

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Another fledge day has come for 9 little martins. An unporched natural horizontal gourd and a 6×12 compartment in the S&K barn were the lucky winners of the day. The most comical part of fledge day (for me) is watching the parents try to round the babies up back into the proper room. Several of the babies found alternate sleeping arrangements in one of the empty gourds on the rack which has a porch. A few made it in the unporched gourd after a few failed attempts, with much wiggling and squirming. All in all, a wonderful day watching the fledglings take a turn flying about.

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.

May 12, 2008

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Lessons learned from my experience with Beau, my grounded Purple Martin Fledgling.

#1 Make sure the phone number you have for a rehabber actually works, Nothing worse than calling a number when you need it and the line has been disconnected.

#2 contact the rehabber BEFORE any problems, forge some kind of relationship where they understand your role as a Purple Martin landlord. Just because a rehabber works with birds doesn’t mean they work with Purple Martin landlords.

#3 Bring them donuts or coffee to maintain open friendly communication. A little grease goes a long way.

Why do I say all this? Well, the good news is Beaus prognosis is “Excellent” and he is “Eating well” And that is all the info I can get on him. I would get more info calling the White House to get the Presidents prostate exam results.

Not that they don’t know what they are doing. Actually the opposite is true. It is a large wildlife hospital and has State of the art facilities. But bigger usually means more bureaucracy and the little people get lost in the mix. They have alot more important things on their mind  than placating a Purple Martin Landlord, I know. I don’t feel like they understand a landlords role as an active conservationist. Maybe I’ll make those donuts jelly filled.

The colony is doing great. The recently fledged young come by during the day. Some nest in their gourds, some don’t. Seems like they are still staying together in family groups. Several SY males have taken to claiming the gourds during the day, trying to attract a mate. The ASY males chase them off when they return with the young occasionally.

May 8, 2008

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

BeauAM: My initial assessment may have been mistaken. Upon further examination the little fledgeling appears to have some damage to his right wing. It is hard and larger in the first joint that the other wing. He also carries it lower than the other wing. Whether or not the damage is fresh or old, I can not say. He is eating some crickets that I offer and he is in a large open container outside within view of the housing but gives no chirps to call his parents or other martins. I am torn. He could easily jump out but does not try. Otherwise his eyes are alert and he looks around but gives no efforts to eat the live crickets that scurry around him.

Beau-note its right wingPM: “Beau” is being fed all day- live crickets. He still has not tried to jump out or eat of his own volition. Though he opens his mouth to accept 3 or so crickets at one time. I tried to call a number that I had for a rehabber with no answer. Tomorrow I will see how he is and try to contact the rehabber again. For the night I put him back in an old canary cage with an unused natural gourd to spend the night.

Oh, I cannot describe the disgust at handling live (or dead for that matter) BUGS! eww!

Tomorrow I will post pics of the little guy (or girl)

May 7, 2008

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

mommy and babiesWhat a gloriously happy and melancholy day. Today was Fledge day for a bunch of Purple Martins. A few had ventured out yesterday but the rest (total of 15) braved the big world today. It was quite an experience. The activity level was over the roof. Birds .swooping and chirping. Babies flying to and from trees, back and forth. Squabbles breaking out as the fledgelings kept trying to investigate compartments with their new found freedom from the gourds. I watched and it occurred to me that many of these birds would fall prey to some tragic fate. Food for some predator. Perhaps to green to survive such a dangerous world. I read an article of how somewhere in South America the martins are viewed by some as pests and were driven off by “air horns and an unidentified pesticide”. My heart broke.

At sunset, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a martin fledgling on our chain link fence. I had seen it there earlier and now it was fluttering wildly. I finally realized that its foot was stuck in the fence. It was hanging upside down flapping about and I ran out to see. Thankfully no hawk had seen it there. It would have been an easy meal. I ran up to it and when I was within a foot it dropped to the ground. It flapped about and was unable to fly. Perhaps just too weak from not having eaten. Its legs appeared undamaged. More importantly, its wings seemed OK. I prepared an empty gourd in a cage in our garage. I will evaluate it in the AM and hopefully there is nothing broken.  It looked at me quite curiously, with a tilt to its head. First one way then the other. I fed it half a dozen dried crickets and about a dozen mealworms. It gobbled up its meal with a big bird appetite. Finally it snuggled in the gourd, familiar and safe. To dream of fat dragonflies and a calm, clear, blue skies.

May 06, 2008

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

baby purple martinsFledge day! Several fledglings from one of my Troyer horizontal gourds fledged today. At least one from a Combo plus gourd. You can tell they are learning the ropes as the older birds are flying around after them with the parents flying protectively close. It really is a wonderful thing to watch. Looking so grown up. Hard to tell the difference without a close look at the tail. The mom and the fledglings call back and forth with a course “chew chew” like sound. Not like the musical “twew” that the adults use. At least that’s how it sounds to me.

I was up late trying to post a short video on YouTube on how to do a basic nest check. I am sure many will criticize my nest check but the point is. You do it the way it works for you. Its more important to do the nest check than to follow some anal rule on how to do it. Kinda like washing a car. There is no right way (unless you are Martha Stewart) Just getting it done makes a big difference. I just hope that maybe a few people that may have been holding back see it and think, “Hay, that wasn’t so difficult. I can do that.” And then they do it. Down the line it will help a Martin out. And THAT is what counts!