Archive for January, 2011

WebCam up and Martins Arriving Almost Daily

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Yes, the Colonycam/webcam is up and is streaming the exterior view of a portion of our colony. I am NOT thrilled with the stream provider and my apologies for the annoying ads that pop up. Believe it or not, gets nothing for those ads. If I want to stream the webcam without the ads I have to fork over about $100 a month. So unless I win the lottery, that isn’t going to happen. I am investigating other ways to stream the cam but it’s all a learning process so I beg for your understanding and patience.

We are up to about 5 ASY purple martins here at our colony in Florida. The last few days had some cold temps in the 30’s at night and tonight and tomorrow will have strong rain showers with high winds.

I wanted to re-post one of my favorite posts regarding cold weather and supplemental feedings for those up north that will be getting martins soon. Since flying insects are pretty much dormant when temps dip below 40 degrees having supplemental feeding trays available can be just as welcome to purple martins as birdseed to cardinals.


Extended Cold Spells TROUBLE for Purple Martins

Though it may make a cute picture, the mix of purple martins and extended adverse weather spells almost certain death for our feathered friends. And by extended weather, we are only talking about 2 days or more. Knowing what you can do will help your colony survive these early spring cold snaps.

Adverse weather, to a purple martin, is 2 or more days of steady rain and/or wind and/or cold temperatures below 40F. Only one of these conditions will make it virtually impossible for a purple martin to find enough food to sustain itself.

Being strict aerial insectivores, purple martins have no recourse when it comes to extended weather issues. They can’t forage for food on the ground and when temperatures dip, flying insects are no where to be found. With our crazy weather patterns we have been having and severe snow storms that have it snowing as far south as Florida, it is important to know what you can do.

So what should you do? ACT FAST! Don’t wait for your birds to be too weak to fly before offering supplemental feeding. Purple martins have to be trained to accept our help as they do not recognize food left out for them. If you wait too long your entire ASY purple martin population can die from starvation in just a few short days.

Supplemental Feeding of Purple Martins 101

Q: What do you feed a purple martins?

A: Crickets are the first choice for beginners. Mealworms or Scrambled Eggs are good once they learn to accept what you offer. But these items must be prepared. Mealworms and crickets (if live) should be frozen -till dead, then thawed thoroughly. They can be soaked in water and drained before feeding. Eggs should be cooked using NO oil or butter of any type.

Q: How do you feed a purple martin?

A: Martins that have never accepted supplemental feedings have to be taught or conditioned to eat food we offer them. After a day or 2 of adverse weather, approach the colony slowly. Use a large plastic spoon and fling a cricket up in the air in the general direction of the martins, up over them…remember you aren’t trying to hit the martins with the food. You want them to see the food flying past them. Continue this for 10 to 15 minutes. Most folks report that by the end of that time one or two birds will try to catch what they see flying by and once one starts, others will follow.

Once they accept food from you, the crickets (mealworms or scrambled eggs) can be placed on an elevated platform feeder and they will eat it off of the platform.

Visit this link on Supplemental Feeding of Adult Purple Martins for more information.


Purple Martins in West Palm Beach, FLORIDA!

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

While outside getting something out of my car I happened to look up and Lo and Behold, a ASY female purple martin was flying over head. In their distinctive ‘flap flap glide’ she circled lazily over head, casually feeding. I rushed inside panic striken since all my housing was closed and started cutting the white plastic bags that I had placed over each gourd. Placing large handfuls of pine straw that my husband collected from a wooded lot down the street, I then was able to hoist one of my gourd racks and my MPP (multi purpose pole) system up. The purple martin then flew around diving and chirping a few times before flying up to feed again.

She is home.

2011 Purple Martin Season UNDERWAY!

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

It is official! The first purple martins for the 2011 season have arrived. As usual, the West coast of Florida lays claim to the first purple martin “scout”.

On Jan 5, 2011, Dr. Steven K. Million of Lake Suzy (Lake Suzy is west of Arcadia and east of Port Charlotte and Northeast of Punta Gorda), Florida reported the first martin. Fort Myers (first to report purple martins last year) followed suit on 06 January at a colony affectionately named the Purple Martin Hotel At Gateway.

Of course, we ALL know that there are NO purple martin scouts. Even the PMCA agrees. What some folks call scouts are just older more experienced birds returning to their old colony sites to secure a nest spot. They simply stop at other sites along the way. Now in my opinion, (considering how gregarious purple martins are) when they arrive in such small numbers they are seeking out other martins to socialize with so maybe they are simply seeking out their own.

For our colony, I suspect the martins won’t arrive for a few more weeks. If you are like me then you still need to buy those replacement purple martin house doors, a few extra gourds, heck maybe a new purple martin system. So now is the time. We recommend making all repairs and most minor changes BEFORE your purple martins arrive.