Posts Tagged ‘pine straw’

Purple Martin Nest Material

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

So what do you use to put in those martin houses and gourds? Many of the available choices that some folks may use work great, some are a bad idea.

Good

Typically the most commonly used prenest material is Pine Straw. Pine straw is just pine needles. It may differ in length and color depending on what kind of pine tree the needles are from but usually pine needles from Longleaf pine, Slash pine or White pine.

Leaves can also be quite water repellent. It really depends on the leaf. Oak are good. Small and flat they are safe.

Corn Fodder which is dried cut up corn stalks

Bad

Grass clippings are a bad choice. First, the grass absorbs water. This in itself is bad enough but then it can mat down and become compacted to the point where water will not easily penetrate. Making your gourd a pool of death.

cedar shavings, though easy to find at any petstore and quite cheap, are not a good choice. They absorb water and stay wet. If you ever use shavings in a cage for a rabbit or hamster, you know! Though I have used it in a pinch, you should try to avoid it.


Depending on what is around you will notice the martins at your site bringing many things to use as nest material. Long ornamental grasses, reeds, hay, even nails have been found in nests. Yes, I recently saw a photo of a martin nest that had over 100 long metal construction nails in the nest. What have you found or used in purple martin nests???

The most important thing to remember is that American’s have been altering the nature of purple martins for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years. Since martins have lost the instinct to nest in a natural cavity, we have a responsibility to care for these birds as part of our heritage as American’s…whether Native American, North American or United States of ‘American’.

ASY’s Singing With Abandon

Friday, February 4th, 2011

The colony activity here in West Palm Beach has certainly kicked up a notch. The male purple martins are even heard singing while still in there gourds. I opened up the other gourd rack and filled them with pine straw. Artificial gourds should be filled with a few handfuls of pine straw to prevent them being unable to exit the slick plastic gourds. Even with the black traction strip in my Troyer Horizontal Gourds, they can be difficult, if not impossible to exit. So make sure you place some nesting material in those gourds. I know “some” ultra conservative birders may scoff at giving purple martins this help. They see it as unnecessary interference. But that thinking is flawed. It has nothing to do with altering nature but more to do with preventing a birds death by our hand.

The Purple Martin colonycam is up and averaging about 90% up-time.