Posts Tagged ‘nestlings’

Another Reason for Cats Indoors

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

I know I get a little “Soap Box-ish” when it comes to the American Bird Conservancy’s Cats Indoors campaign. This video is one of the reasons why. As a bird AND cat lover, I feel that I am 100% qualified to endorse ABC’s and the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (to name a couple) stand on domesticated cats being allowed to roam free. Check out this 32 second video to see why.

Sub-Adult Purple Martin Mayhem

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Last year I wrote a blog post called SY Males-The Enemy Within. It dealt with some of the facts and dangers that Purple Martins face from their own kind. SY or subadult male purple martins, arrive later than the ASY martins. They return home having survived the migration only to find all nest compartments full or guarded by protective ASY males. Eggs and nestlings run the risk of being destroyed or killed by the younger SY males. These males are so eager to breed that they will kill their own kind to force the females to start a new family.

Today I found the first casualty and my nest check results show that several nests have been affected by these SY males. The first tip off is a compartment previously claimed by a ASY pair is now protected by a SY male. Eggs or nestlings on the ground are dead give aways of course and the bickering and fighting can get intense. Though unless witnessed, you may never really know what was the cause of eggs or nestlings that mysteriously disappear, in the absence of sparrows and starlings, one can assume that SY’s play a part.

Can something be done about this? Well, many people wait until the SY males arrival to open up some of their housing. Others put up temporary type housing to alleviate some of the nest site competition like the Trendsetter Create-A-Rack Arms that  can be added on to your telescopic pole to make an affordable and easy spot to hang a few extra gourds in a pinch. Still others may yell and shoo those pesky SY males away.

In the grand scheme I suppose I tolerate this behavior in my colony as the ugly harsh reality of survival. If a ASY male is off guard and not protecting his mate and nest, his gene pool suffers. Those males that are dutiful in their jobs as protectors can drive away would be dangers and their off spring survives. It is a hard thing to witness and if I witness the tossing of a nestling I will intervene and return it to its nest. Is that what National Geographic would do if they were filming a documentary? No, they would probably film it happening and talk about the harsh reality of nature and watch death come slowly. Is that interfering with nature? Or is it our nature to interfere?

Nest Check Results:

Total Eggs: 34

Total Young: 124

Found Dead: 1

Pairs: 36

©S.Halpin/ 2010

Martin Fledgling Found on Ground-Back to Busch

Friday, July 17th, 2009

I was out several times in the morning giving Pedialyte to the nestling that I took out yesterday. He is visibly afraid at what I am doing but doesn’t give up a fight. His beak has more strength today and required some patience and gentle effort to open for some crickets today. As I was feeding him around 11AM or so, I saw the few Swallow-Tailed Kites flying overhead and low. I kept hearing a purple martin like chirp and found myself looking around. Hmmmm, I didn’t know Kites sound like martins? I kept hearing the chirp. No martins were around, they had visited this morning and were not around now. Then low and close I saw another one of the fledglings an the pool deck on the inside portion of the baby gate surrounding our pool. I went and picked him up and he chirped to me as if I was familiar.

Placing him in the bucket, with what I am sure is his sibling, I placed a drop of Pedialyte on my finger and as I approached him with my finger he practically bit my finger off. Not in fear or hostility but out of hunger. I picked up a cricket and approached his beak with it and between chirps he gobbled it down, looking for more. A friendly sort this little fledgling must have sat up in the trees all night. Finally when the other martins returned he tried to fly with them, only to be without strength to join them. He must have quickly lost altitude and thankfully landed where God would let me see him. Instantly, this little bird has especially touched my heart.

I placed a call to Busch Wildlife Sanctuary and drove them up to Jupiter. Beyond my help these 2 little birds need aggressive intervention. Even with that they seem so weak and malnourished that they may never be able to catch up to the HY’s flying about like experts now.

Calling for an update from David Hitzig (the Director at Busch Wildlife Sanctuary) I can report that both are being hydrated,  the outgoing fledgling is eating enthusiastically but the more timid nestling is not fairing as well. I am hoping that by watching his sibling accepting food, that he will follow suit, but as David related, it may be that he is beginning to shut down and death is imminent for him.

I will keep you updated.

Last Nest and their Diminished Care

Monday, July 13th, 2009

The last nest is in the zone where nest checks are not advised. Fearing that I can flush out the 2 stronger birds and decrease their chances of survival, I have stopped supplemental feeding of the runt. I have seen the mother flying overhead and calling out but not actively feeding. Within the last week I have noticed a decrease from over a hundred birds flying about in the morning to none. Only about a dozen or so will stop by for several minutes at different parts of the morning. The season is ending quickly and the SY female is in a hurry to leave. Whether or not her instinct to stay and care for her young wins out over the instinct to join the flock and migrate, I am not sure. I hope the 2 larger and more robust nestlings make it but I doubt the runt can catch up now. This situation is a textbook example of something described as diminished parental care in some late nesting purple martins by a fellow PMCA forumite and purple martin landlord Mr. Steve Kroenke. You may have read this article on the forum but for my non-PMCA readers this is an issue that is fascinating if not tragic. With Mr. Kroenke’s permission I am posting his article here.

Diminishing Parental Care In Some Late Nesting Martins

Purple martins are a highly colonial and migratory species. They spend a good portion of their lives on the go, as they travel with other martins between their wintering grounds in South America and their nesting sites throughout the United States and Canada. So, the instinctive drive to migrate with the flock is deeply engrained in a martin’s genes and behavior. This drive is highly prevalent toward the end of the nesting season when nearly all martins have finished breeding and are forming pre-migratory flocks in preparation for the flight south. The urge to assemble and migrate south seems to dominate the purple martin species after the young have fledged and are independent. Martins have a long journey ahead of them and they must also finish molting all their feathers while on their wintering grounds. Migration instinct is extraordinarily strong in purple martins.

Competition Between Instinctive Drives In Late Nesting Purple Martins
This highly developed migratory drive will sometimes compete with a martin’s instinct to stay with its young, particularly when nearly all martins in the area have finished breeding and are heading south. Late nesting martins may be torn between the urge to migrate with the flock and the urge to continue staying behind and feeding their babies. When there is only one pair of nesting martins left at a colony, the conflict between the drives may be particularly strong. These are often, but not always, sub adult martins (SY) that have colonized a new site or are nesting at an older, established colony. When martins initiate such late nesting behavior, any young produced may be nest bound until late July into September depending on the geographical location of the colony. By this time, many martins are forming pre-migratory roosts or heading south. This may exert migratory pressures on these late nesting parent martins as they try to feed their young while suppressing their desire to fly with the flock and head south.
Late Nesting Martin Feeding Behavior/Parental Care
Most martins that are nesting during the “normal” breeding period for their area begin feeding their young at dawn, often while there are dim lighting conditions. They continue to feed their babies throughout the day, with occasional “slow down periods”, and persist until the evening. I have observed martins start feeding their babies just after 6:00 am and stop between 8:30 and 9:00 pm.
For very late nesting pairs, particularly those where all the other martins have finished breeding in the colony, you may observe significant variations from the “norm” relative to feeding young. Late nesting martins may vary considerably in their frequency and daily time frames of feedings to their young. If these late nesters are not roosting with their young, then the parents may arrive later in the mornings to begin feedings. I have observed some of these parents arrive at 8:00 am or later to begin feeding their young though most returned earlier. During the day, their feedings may be sporadic at times with the parents leaving the area during the late afternoon. Sometimes both parents will be gone when there are still several hours of daylight left to feed the young. I have observed some of these late nesting adults leave the area by 6:00 pm or even earlier. Both the beginning and ending feeding times for late nesting martins are greatly impacted by the age of the young and roosting behavior of the parents. If one or both of the parents are roosting with their babies, then you may see a more “normal” feeding schedule, starting early and ending before dark. However, even these roosting parents may start feeding their young later than normal.
When parent martins arrive late at the nest in the mornings and leave early in the afternoons, this behavior may relate to the distance they must fly to reach the closest pre-migratory roost site. If neither of the parents is roosting with the young, the adults are probably spending the night at the nearest pre-migratory roost. If it is late in the season and most martins are gone from the area, then there may be no nearby roosts, so the parent martins may be flying many miles to reach the closest one. This could result in several hours of flight time for the parent martins in the mornings to arrive at the nest and in the afternoons to reach the communal roost.

Also, late nesting martins must face much higher daytime temperatures and this factor can impact the number of feedings to the young. During extremely high temperatures in the upper 90s for example, insects, such as dragonflies, may not be flying in large numbers, thereby reducing the prey base for the parent martins. The young martins may become heat stressed and not be as responsive to the food stimulus.

And, just prior to fledging their young, parent martins will start reducing the daily feedings to prepare their babies’ transition from nestlings to fledglings. Hungry young are more prone to fledging than well fed ones, particularly when the parents tempt them with a dragonfly. So, it is normal to see fewer feedings during the last week prior to the young making their maiden flight.

There May Be Significant Differences In Feeding Behavior Between Male and Female Martins

From my observations of these very late nesting pairs, you may see significant gender differences between male and female martins in feeding their young. The female martin is clearly more attentive to the young and spends more time with her babies than her mate. This is largely a function of the specific gender roles in purple martin family life. The mother martin broods her young during their early lives and she usually roosts at night with the babies for much longer than the male. Some males may quit roosting with their families after the young are older and nearing fledging. For late nesting pairs, the males may quit roosting with their families soon after the young have hatched.

Late nesting male martins may show reduced parental care to their young by feeding them fewer times than normal and then leaving earlier in the day. This may become more pronounced after the young are about two weeks old and it is later in the breeding season. These males may arrive at the nest site later in the mornings and feed the young a few times. Then they may disappear for long periods and show up again later with an occasional food item. Generally, their feedings to the young may be lower than the females. Other males may function mainly as guardians to the nest and chase away other males, particularly SYs that try to enter the cavity. These males may stay around the nest site in the mornings and bring in an occasional dragonfly. Then they gradually disappear in the afternoons and will not return until the next day. Some males may eventually abandon their families after the young are older or just after fledging. I had several cases where the males finally just quit coming around and the female went solo to finish raising the young.

Female martins are extremely attentive to their young and closely bonded to them. Nurturing the young is a key gender role of the female martin. Females usually feed late hatching young reliably and provide good parental care. I never had a case where a female abandoned her late hatching young though some of these females may not feed their young as often as normally. Also, these females roosted with their babies almost up until fledging and some through that time. However, I did observe several situations where non-roosting females with older young would arrive late in the morning to start feeding their babies and then departed relatively early in the afternoon. In these cases, the females may have been flying many miles to reach a communal pre-migratory roost. Again, the females are usually much more bonded to their young than the males and provide better parental care in late nesting situations.

Differences Between Late Nesting ASY Pairs And SYs

Generally speaking late nesting ASY pairs, both male and female, are more attentive to their young and provide more reliable parental care. These martins have most likely successfully raised young in the past and this experience no doubt helps them. Late nesting ASY males are probably more prone to feed their babies at higher rates than the SYs. The SYs, particularly the males, are raising young for the first time and embarking on this most important and potentially stressful adventure late in nesting season does create a challenging situation. However, I have seen both late nesting ASY and SY males significantly reduce their feedings to their nest bound young and even on occasion abandon their family prior to the babies fledging.

Late Nesting Fledglings

When late nesting youngsters fledge, I have observed cases where the parents or female parent brought their young back to roost in their natal nest for several nights and in other situations where they all disappeared. However, I did have several cases where the females brought their young back for longer than a week. It is possible that these youngsters may have greater difficulties in surviving to independence since the parents are under pressure to migrate with the flock. This may result in reduced parental care after fledging. However, martin youngsters grow up fast and learn to hunt flying insects quickly. So, that is a good behavioral adaptation to possibly help martins overcome problems with fledging later in the nesting season.


Purple martins are highly migratory birds and are nomadic for a good portion of their lives. This powerfully developed drive to “go with the flock” at the end of the nesting season may sometimes conflict with an equally strong drive to feed late hatching young. This “battle of the instincts” may result in some parent martins, particularly the males, reducing their feedings to nest bound young or in rare cases abandoning their families. Most females tend to be more closely bonded to their young and often maintain a good level of parental care in late nesting situations. These females continue to feed their babies reliably, roost with them until fledging, and may bring them back to sleep in the evenings for several nights or longer.

by Steve Kroenke




Runt Update- A Visit to Busch Wildlife Sanctuary

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

After a long evening of re-hydrating the purple martin nestling and then this morning continued Gatorade and crickets, the nestlings belly was much softer, poops were normal and most importantly-he was still alive.

All morning without any chirps, I was wondering if mom was anywhere around. Usually you would think that the nestling would give out a few chirps if he heard her. I did see a SY female coming to the porch twice in a 4 hour period. Once to drop off a large cicada on the outside porch. I wasn’t impressed with her efforts. At around noon I lowered the gourd rack and took out the 2 thin-est of the remaining 4. I left the 2 strongest nestlings which after careful aging, I determined them to be 22 days old. The runt definitely is feathered, for the most part, like a 16 day old. The 3 skinny ones then made a 20 minute ride to Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter after having a drink of gatorade.

I met David Hitzig, the executive director of the facility. It was great to finally visit this center that I had heard about but never visited. As you may know from previous posts, I had always used Folke Peterson, which is only a few minutes away, but now that they are closing (due to financial problems) this was a wonderful opportunity to make the drive. Had I known what a full service, top notch facility it is, I would have come sooner. I brought the family and my 2 boys were kept happy and amazed at the animals including Florida Panthers, Deer, foxes, birds of prey and every sort of native Florida wildlife. I meanwhile spoke with David.

He is astute and quite aware of the dilemma these birds find themselves in. Being so late in the season, and no other nests that could foster them, the best place for them is with momma. As negligent as she is, their best hope is to fledge with her. Without the post fledging care that they will receive, their chances are dismal and I know it. My fear is that the runt will be so malnourished, that he would die or be so far behind in growth that he would be left behind or easy pickings for a predator. David saw to it that the birds received a fluid injection to hydrate them quickly. They also got a big meal of juicy live crickets and meal worms before I took them home. Now that the runts belly was softer and poop was normal, I feel much more comfortable returning him to the nest with a day of rescue feedings under his belt.

The 3 were very active on the drive home and after a quick stop at the pet store to by a dozen live crickets, I gave them one last drink of Gatorade and belly full of food. I lowered the rack and placed them back in the nest after checking the 2 much heavier nestlings.

I did see the mom flying about and I think I know what is going on. Before returning the nestlings I heard her calling out to the nestlings with her chew chew call. A call I hear the parents make when they are trying to coax them out of the nests to fledge. That would explain her leaving the food on the outside porch. She is trying to lure them out so they will fledge. Unfortunately she is inexperienced and like most birds, has no access to a calendar. She has no idea that feathered as they are the birds are just not ready to fledge. The runt is so under feathered that it would perish for sure if it didn’t die from the malnourishment first.

The nestcam is now on gourd #6 and my eye is fixed on the action.

Many thanks to Mr. David Hirtzig and to Busch Wildlife Sanctuary. I will be sending in a donation to this fine facility and coming back again soon.

© 2009 S.Halpin /

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.


Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Purple Martins on Nestcam gourd #11 have fledged!

It is official, they are flying around like maniacs. A bit unsteady but apparently without incident. The Nestcam was so dirty that it was hard to make out who was even in the gourd. I finally brought myself to lower the rack and in doing so flushed out a few straggler fledglings from gourds #11 and 12 but it had to be done. At approx 31 days old, I knew they would be fine. The Nestcam is now cleaned off and on gourd #4 which needs a watchful eye as I have not seen daddy helping and mom seems to be taking her time with feedings. The babies did not seem as plump as I would like and they seemed a bit bony so I will be watching this gourd closely to make sure that they are getting enough to eat.

Two of the nests are down right nasty and if it were not for a clutch of new eggs in gourd #8 (a renest attempt) I would have done a nest change. This was the first nest check for the numbered gourd rack in over a week so a complete check was long overdue. But to do a full nest check and then do a nest change also would take too much time. The nastiest of the nests is due to fledge within a week so I am considering leaving it be. OR I may go out tomorrow and bring the rack down and change the nesting material. I hate the thought of them in that mess.

Under the lettered gourd rack, I found a dead nestling. Approx 4 days old and it had been dead quite some time. It came from gourd H and the other 5 nestlings in the gourd seemed fine. The are about 8 days old. I will never know what was the cause. An SY male perhaps or just a case of natural death and the parents cleaning house. 

I am unable to check the telescopic pole as the nestlings in the aluminum Sunset Inn house are ready to fledge at any time.

In other news: There is lots of racoon feces on our patio and I am starting to get more nervous. A flicker has been cleaning out the screech Owl box since the owls are gone and one of the tidbits it threw out was a whole owl egg. I fear the owls did not have a successful clutch in my yard.

Partial nest check results (unable to check telescopic pole)

Total Eggs:  17 + (10 eggs unable to verify if hatched)

Total Young:  53 (Plus 15 on other pole?) 68

Total (active) Nests:  22

Fledged to Date: 28

Afternoon Walk with the Boys

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

And the postponed Nest Check

Even though the temps hover in the mid 80’s it is still breezy enough to enjoy an afternoon walk down the street. The boys are forever curious about the birds, nature and all sentences that can begin and end with the word, “Why?” So it was that we took one of our walks. The first destination was to the canal at the end of the street where they still remember the dead alligator that was left there some months back. How it got there, I have no idea but the team of Turkey Vultures that were taking turns crawling up inside the dead beast were educational to say the least. Some might say that the sight was too gruesome to show a then 2 1/2 and 4 year old…they may or may not be right. All I know is that they have not had any nightmares over it.

So there we were at the spot that once was the resting spot for the dead gator. There is nothing left of the gator. Only Muscovy feathers litter the ground. As we walked away I could see the Purple Martins visiting a neighbors pond. That was our next destination.

As I found an ant-free spot to sit, the boys occupied themselves with the all important task of throwing grass in the pond. The martins were taking turns dipping down for a drink and didn’t mind us at all. One by one they take a drink then fly off to the South East. Then another few would come from our yard and repeat the process.

The boys were oblivious to the martins slaking their thirst but perhaps on a subliminal level they took note and asked for their cups (which of course I always have) We sat on the banks of the pond and looked out at the pond in a rare and silent moment. They drinking in their water. Me, drinking in my martins.

Yesterdays nest check results:

Total eggs:  58             Total young:  50      Total nests:  25

Green Cay Predator Guards are UP!

Monday, April 13th, 2009


I wanted to tell you about my recent visit to the Purple Martin colony at Green Cay Nature Center. The facility is immaculate (as usual) and the wildlife plentiful. Birds were in abundance. From a pair of Red-Tailed hawks, mottled ducks, common moorheads and red winged black birds and others that challenged my marginal bird ID skills. I was there to install the predator guardsthat Mr.Updike (a fellow Purple Martin Conservation Association forumite) from Delaware had so graciously donated to Green Cay. Donald Campbell, the manager of Green Cay, escorted me out to the purple martin houses. The martins, for not being as close to humans as the martins at my house, were just as docile. A flurry of feathers to get airborne and then curious swoops as if we had been doing nest checks all along. The Economy 12 gourd rack was the first to come down. Though it has a capacity for 12 gourds, as its name implies, the rack currently only has 8 Troyer horizontal gourds all with round openings. Out of the 8 gourds, 6 of them were occupied with either nestlings or eggs. Those 2 that were not occupied had complete nests. None had any evidence of mites.

Not all of the nests looked the same however. As I opened the access port to the first gourd, I saw feathers had been used in its construction. I was confused. Could a Tree Swallow have nested here? No, I saw Purple Martins perched on the rack before we approached it. If it was a Tree Swallow, it would have kept the martins away from the rack. Never even mind the fact that a Tree Swallow nesting in South Florida would be for the record books. I reached in, unable to see what was laying within.European starling nestlings

The first nestling I pulled out greeted me with a big yellow beak and downy fuzz on its head and back. My heart sank. I reached in and pulled out another, then another, then another until 5 writhing bodies gaped at me. It appeared as though (unfortunately) 3 of the nests were those of European Starlings. The oldest of the nestlings was bold and unfazed by my handling. It looked at me as if to dare me.  A half smile on that wretched yellow dagger of a beak.

When I talk to people about Purple Martins and the threat of non-native nest site competitors (like starlings or sparrows) many people will deny they have a problem…until there is a problem. And when it comes to sparrows and starlings, trust me, there is a problem. But it is a delicate issue Starling Nestlingand there is always the danger of offending sensibilities and beliefs. It’s a subject I tread carefully and this situation gives me a great opportunity to show some of you that still doubt, that sometimes even if there “ain’t nothing broke”, we should still fix it. The situation at Green Cay illustrates perfectly how problems arise. The old housing was unattractive to starlings. Thus, no starling problem. Small 6×6 compartments being the main complaint. By the way, those same 6×6 compartments are unattractive to purple martins also, But necessity being the mother of invention and the Purple Martins being a lot more hard pressed for available housing, will make do with what is available to them. Why else would studies show that in larger compartments that purple martins not only lay more eggs, but successfully fledge more young. This being the case, when the new Troyer horizontal gourds were introduced this year, the Starlings took a good long look.

Being nestled in intimate proximity to an urban setting, starlings in my area have an abundant supply of adequate housing. All they have to do is fly a few hundred feet to reach any number of prime starling nest areas. South Florida architecture is famous for its use of Spanish tiles that starlings nest in quite successfully. Dead palm trees are so soft they are hollowed out by woodpeckers in record time and provide great nesting spots for starlings. So when someone puts up housing in urban areas, even if you don’t see the starlings, it is just a matter of time. And just like any of you that have ever had a picnic know, the flies don’t bother you until the food comes out. But you know the flies are around.

Interestingly enough, in retrospect I wonder if the nests that were completed but unoccupied were empty because a starling already had attacked? Could a starling have already caused damage? Regardless, the colony is thriving and at least it is an easy fix. Thankfully, with the development of SREH, the starling threat can be neutralized.

The Sunset Inn house, with its SREH is safe from the start. Every compartment was filled with 5-6 eggs or nestlings. One compartment had a 1 day old nestling that was dead, but the 4 other 1 and 2 day old nest mates seemed to be doing fine. The nest was sparse and the nestlings in this nest were on the only patch of bare floor but I rearranged the nest so that a covering of leaves provided some warmth. All the other nests were beautifully constructed with huge mud dams and perfectly crafted nests using grasses and reeds. The purple martins are lucky to have such a beautiful setting to raise their young.

In closing I hope that for those that do not believe in the benefits of SREH that you reconsider and make the conversion in your colony’s. A few moments of work will rewards you with unending peace of mind. I also urge the more passive of landlords to spend more time getting to know your birds. As it is with many active purple martin landlords, we check our birds so frequently that their world opens up to us like a crystal ball. A story unfolds slowly but clearly of the challenges they face. With active management small problems can be fixed and large problems can be unearthed quickly. And knowing our birds so intimately gives us an appreciation for these birds that is hard to describe.

But I will keep trying!

Photos and Blog Contents © S.Halpin/

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.