Posts Tagged ‘Nest check’

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 for 4/5/09

Monday, April 6th, 2009

In my last post I had told you of how I finally was able to do a nest check on 1 of my 3 housing units. All because of a stubborn pole-or feeding platform to be specific. Well here are the nest check results as of April 5th.

Gourd #2- 5 eggs
Gourd #3- 5 eggs
Gourd #6- 6 eggs
Gourd #7- 4 eggs
Gourd #9 -5 eggs
Gourd #10- 6 eggs
Gourd #11- 4 eggs
Gourd #12- 4 eggs

Excluder gourd -4 eggs

Natural horizontal gourd - 3 eggs

Sunset Inn compartment A -(?) eggs-mom in nest & did not move.
For a grand total of at LEAST 46 eggs in 10 gourds and 1 nest in house. 

Next nest check is 4/7/09, I hope.

Now today was a challenging day. I had a tooth taken out and am miserable. When we came home I wanted nothing more than to curl up under the blankets and go to sleep but the weather had other ideas. We have a cold (yes COLD) front moving through and the wind is gusting upwards of 25 mph. I am confidant that my 2 Economy Gourd racks can handle this but the triangular telescopic pole…not so much. I went out with ice pack held firmly against my jaw and assessed the situation. The gusts were making the house appear to twist from side to side. Though I am no structural engineer, I am smart enough to know that this is a recipe for pole failure. I lowered the pole so that only 1 part of the 4 sections is extended. The house looks ridiculously low to the ground but the birds wont mind. My incubating female in house compartment A flew right back in without so much as a pause. My trooper. Some of the other birds hovered, then landed on one of the gourd racks before finally going back into the house. Tomorrow is a nest check day and I will raise it back up then as long as the wind is a bit more behaved.

Perhaps when I am more up to it I will tell you of the dental experience that brings me to the point of having my tooth extracted. But I must admit, talking about my birds is good therapy and I thank you all for listening!

 (c) Blog contents copyright 2009 S.Halpin/

Pole Drama Mama

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Before I opened our business, I did what many people do that want to try their hand at Purple Martins. I went out and purchased an inexpensive plastic house. With the cheap house came a cheap triangular pole, and with the cheap pole came a cheap feeder/platform tray that slides over the pole.

Last year I had big problems with egg shells sliding down the inner opening of the platform feeder and sliding down in between the pole sections. What resulted was severe sticking of the pole. So when I attempted to circumvent this issue this year by gluing a barrier around the opening, I was confident it would succeed. NOT! My gorilla glue lasted about 2 months in the sun and came unglued allowing the bits of shell to slide, once again, down the inner hole and in between the pole sections. What resulted was the delay of nest checks on the Sunset Inn house and today’s story.

As you may or may not realize, I do not sell these triangular poles on my site. I had a gourd rack on a triangular pole that I phased out this year with the new Economy 12 gourd rack and I am sorry I did not go ahead and phase the triangular poles out in their entirety. It has been a continued headache.

I greatly underestimated my desire to hoist up a telescopic pole every few days. Last year one of the plastic tabs that keeps the triangular telescopic pole locked in place broke and I had to use a long bolt in the opening to extend the pole. One pole bent about 10 degrees in a thunderstorm and one developed a very slight bend that made bringing the pole up and down difficult. Then of course there was the problem of the egg shells getting inside the pole sections. I can assure you that next year all my poles will be pulley operated.

What does this all mean to someone that wants to get into Purple Martins without spending SEVERAL hundred dollars? One can easily spend upwards of $500 to $1000 (and more) for a sweet purple martin set up. Does this mean that you should NOT try your hand at purple martins? No, it only means that if you choose to go the frugal way into the hobby do not be surprised if within a few years you find yourself wishing you had a sweet tricked out Purple Martin set up. Do not feel badly that your cheap system has let you down. You may just find that you have outgrown it.

So what do I have on my triangular pole? I placed my aluminum Sunset Inn house on it with a custom made mounting plate. It seems to be hanging in there just fine. It’s my arms that are giving out. And other than the egg shell pain in my noodle, it will serve out this season (I hope) with honor. Finally after a can of WD-40 and much prying and wiggling and banging it came free. 3 delayed nest checks later I was finally able to lower the Sunset Inn and check it and the 2 gourds hanging under it. What did I find? Both gourds have eggs, a total of 7 more for the count and the house itself has eggs but I don’t know how many. “Why is that?”, you ask. Look and see.

This is why I love these birds. Stupid? No, she knew it was me. I was fooling with the pole for some minutes, calling out to my husband and when I heard a rustling and looked, there she sat. Calm and trusting. Watching me and knowing. Partners we are. Tethered and wild. Human and not. Surface dweller and flying free. Working together by the grace of God and under His watchful eye. How can one not want to put up a Purple Martin house?

 (c) Blog contents copyright 2009 S.Halpin/

April Fools Nest Check

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

I know, I am a little late posting these last nest check results. But here they are:

Gourd #2 3 eggs
Gourd #3 5 eggs
Gourd #6 6 eggs
Gourd #7 4 eggs
Gourd #9 5 eggs
Gourd #10 3 eggs
Gourd #11 4 eggs
Gourd #12 3 eggs
For a grand total of 33 eggs in 8 gourds. All ASY pairs, all tunneled Troyer horizontal gourds.

I was UNABLE to check the Aluminum Sunset Inn house. The telescopic pole that I have it on is apparently stuck. It is a triangular pole (that I do not sell) and the feeder tray that it came with consistently allows egg shells from the feeder to slide down the pole and make a nightmare of a time for me. This is the last season with this pole and I am sorry that I did not replace it sooner.

I had previously modified the feeder tray with a plastic hole plug that I had cut the bottom off of. In essence it was like the bottom of a plastic cup…but without the bottom. I sealed it to the tray so that when it rains the contents of the tray do not wash down the center of the pole as it did seasons past- an obvious design flaw. Either the tray should have been designed so that the contents wash to the outer edges vs the center. But this is proof of several things, to me. One being that “shotgun” product design often comes up with many designs. Some good some not so good. More importantly “shotgun” designing has unpleasant side effects to the end consumer when the design is not properly and adequately field tested. I will have to get my husband to help me attempt to unstick the pole and then put caulk around the center hole.

There is still an occasional bird or two sleeping on the porch of the house. Last night it was an ASY male. I have seen several birds at last light struggling from compartment to compartment, trying to find an empty room. I have seen 1 or two birds fly off at dark. I am suspecting that they leave to roost in a tree or another house but continue to try to find room here.

I have visited several nearby houses that I have found on my travels and all still appear empty, as their usual. All these houses have potential but are just located improperly. IE: too close to trees. I have left almost 2 dozen leaflets on local properties with information on Purple Martins for these landlords. To date I have heard back from 3 people and have personally spoken with 2 more. The 2 people I spoke with tell me that they have martins return yearly. Some of the houses I have found have no “proof of life” at least the feathered kind.

Also I have finally moved the nest cam to gourd #11. I will later attempt to point the cam so that you can actually see eggs. But I do believe she has started incubating at least 4 eggs!

 (c) Blog contents copyright 2009 S.Halpin/

Nest Check and Check THIS out!

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Yesterday was another nest check here at my humble Purple Martin Colony. As of now I have 19 gourds offered and 6 house compartments. I am awaiting a shipment of a half dozen gourds to fill my new rack that has only 5 gourds on it at this time. I do believe there are birds sleeping in every compartment INCLUDING gourd #4 which has the nest cam. As you may remember, the nest cam was online briefly but the infrared light spooked the pair that was in the gourd out to another. The gourd has been the subject of a lot of attention from an ASY pair. Though hesitant for a few days, the pair does appear to be spending a lot of time in and out of the gourd. But before I get carried away with details, here are the results of the nest check.

The exact numbers so far.

Gourd #3 with 5 eggs

Gourd #6 with 3 eggs

Gourd # 7  with 4 eggs

Gourd #9 with 5 eggs

Gourd #11 with 1 egg

For a total of 18 eggs

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

On the next nest check which should be on Tuesday, I will switch the nestcam to gourd #11. If there are more eggs in that nest (which I don’t see why there would not be) I will change the camera over to that gourd. Be on the look out for that.

The SY males are causing quite the ruckus and I do believe there may be a shortage of rooms. On several nights I have seen a Purple Martin sleeping on the porch of the Sunset Inn Aluminum house. At first I thought it may be the same male that slept on the porch all season last year. But a few nights ago it was NOT a male but a female or perhaps a SY male on the same porch. Could it be that there are no vacancies and the porch is all that is left? Could it be a fool hardy martin enjoying the outdoor breeze? I am not sure but trust me when I express my worry over these birds. All hours of the night I hear them chirping. At 3 AM I have been hearing a male singing in one of the gourds in pitch black. Are they crazy? I know the waterfall on the pool is running all night to mask their noise but I will soon turn on the radio outside to mask their chattering. Why don’t they just hang a free dinner sign?

So to summarize; come Tuesday, look for a relaunch of the nestcam and another nest check. If you follow me on Twitter I try to post Tweets on when I will be doing the nest check. I lower the camera and you can watch me live, doing a Purple Martin Nest Check. It may come in useful for those that have never done a check and may be nervous about “messing with the birds.”

On a side note; I wanted to announce the return of feather art to our site.

 3 gorgeous pieces of handpainted feather art. They are signed and numbered by the artist, D.L.Miller. I requested that these 3 pieces be very different and I do believe they are outstanding.


So until Tuesday, keep an eye out for hawks and keep it Purple!

 (c) Blog contents copyright 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

Purple Martin Nest Cam is ONLINE!

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Copyright: S.Halpin/

Don’t get me wrong. My excitement is tempered with a healthy dose of reality. The nestcam is using (thank you tech support) and the birdcam is using I welcome any and all feedback on which you like better. Both insert the most annoying ads that I do NOT profit from. So please, no hate mail. The weight of the camera housing makes the gourd list to the side a bit but not too bad. Gourd #4 was the winner of the online poll to determine which gourd would get the camera first. The Nestcam seems to kick off a bit more frequently which requires me to focus a fair bit of my OCD tendencies to checking the 2 spare computers Internet connection. My husband is at the end of his patience…I think. I only know I would be. I am sure he wonders when he will get me back from the birds and is counting the days until the season is over.

This has been a very busy year. Between the websites and all that entails and my outreach efforts, I have been talking, thinking, and breathing purple.

I don’t know if I mentioned the Purple Martin presentation I gave at Green Cay Nature Center a few weeks ago. There were some 20 + people there and many questions were asked. I brought a selection of gourds and tried to “make some converts”. I have also been sending out flyer’s to local residences that have purple martin houses in their backyards.

My martins appear very happy and are quite loud. The pool water feature runs 24/7 to mask any noise that may attract Owls. We added the sheet metal to the pine tree under the Owls nest box and hope that helps to keep them safe from raccoons. But back to the martins, I need to hang more gourds to accommodate the birds that have yet to arrive. I still have yet to see a SY.

On today’s nest check I noticed that most of the gourds had either pine bark or leaves brought in and all seem used. Spotless clean of course but all but 1 or 2 have perfectly shaped nest bowls swirled like soft serve ice cream.

I hope you all enjoy the nest cam and bird cam and let me know what you think.

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.

Nest Sitting and Nest Building

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

martininnest.jpgThe morning broke cool in the low 60′s but is pleasantly warming and turning into a spectacular spring day. The pair of mockingbirds that is building a nest about a yard away from my lawn chair is happy, despite my 2 children running and screaming a few feet away. The birds quietly slip in with twigs and sticks much to my delight. Apparently the Mockingbirds have also come to appreciate my lawn and the “no hawk” zone that, together, the martins and I provide.

Another nest is being built in a natural gourd and it would seem that the 4 nests that I checked are being incubated.

When I did nests checks the other day, the most curious thing happened. I lowered the pole and was going from one gourd to another. I began to open Gourd #2 (which I knew to be an active nest) when I looked inside to count, I found myself face to face with the ASY female who refused to give up her eggs. She had moved to the side enough for me to count but did not fly out. She was, literally only inches from my face. It was one of the most spectacular things that I have ever experienced. She must be quite experienced at nest checks, is my conclusion. She could have easily flown away at any time. I closed the gourd, continued to check all gourds the raised the house back up. Only when the house was almost completely up, did she dart out-very quietly. Off for a snack, then she returned a few minutes later.

On the business side of things, is making small baby steps towards launching and I hope to have some inventory and items by end of month.

Blog Contents Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin /

Basic Purple Martin Nest Check

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Basic information on how to do a nest check to check on your Purple Martin nests.

Blog/Photos & Video COpyrighted 2008: S.Halpin /

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