Saturday, December 17, 2005

Purple Martin Colony Success

I was going through my Project Martinwatch nest records and in the 11 years that my colony has been in existence I have had a total of 957 eggs laid, of those 803 hatched and 726 fledged. Here are the percentages:

Hatch Rate 83.9 %
Young That Fledged Rate 90.4 %
Overall Success Rate 75.9 %

This success has not come without a price. Having a successful colony requires work, diligence, and responsibility. I've listed below several informative articles on the PMCA website that explain what is required to have a successful colony. Remember, it's a lot more than just sticking a birdhouse in the air.

Click on to go to article:

Helpful Hints for Martin Landlords
PMCA's Best Martin Management Tips
Attracting and Managing Purple Martins
Top 10 Reasons Why People Fail to Attract Martins
12 Reasons Why People Lose Their Martins
Standards for Purple Martin Housing

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Environmental Activism

If there are any environmental activists out there (like myself) there are several environmental websites that offer you an easy way of contacting your congressperson to tell them how you feel about certain pieces of legislation that affect the environment. After signing up you'll get occasional email updates and alerts from them about pending legislation, that's directed towards the environment and other important information. You can then take action by going to the website and send your own letter or use the prewritten letter provided by the site to your congressperson to let them know how you feel about a particular piece of legislation. The more voices that are heard the better chances that the environment will be safe for all of us and the children of the future.

NRDC (National Resource Defence Council)

Sierra Club

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Approaching Purple Martin Season

The new purple martin season is upon us. Here in Southeast Texas (at least at my colony) they begin showing up around the first few weeks of February. If you have not done scheduled maintanence, repairs, etc. on your housing you best get busy they'll be here before you know it!
If you are not a member of the PMCA (Purple Martin Conservation Association), I would highly advise joining. They publish a great quarterly magazine, The Purple Martin Update, that has great articles and photographs, and will help further your knowledge of this beautiful swallow and how to maintain your colony. I built and maintain an index to this magazine that is located on their website for an easy search of articles.

If you have a colony or are interested in beginning one and have questions, you can email me and/or check out the PMCA's website which contains tons of info on purple martins.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Banding Birds

If you ever have the opportunity to band birds, by all means participate. I had the extraordinary experience of being involved in a bird banding project in the Big Thicket National Preserve. The project was part of a nationwide bird-monitoring program known as MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship). Through mist netting and banding birds during the breeding season it helps monitor shifts in bird populations that are impacted by factors such as climate change and loss of habitat. I have always wanted to do this not only to see how it is done, but to also be able to hold a live bird in my hands and see it really up close. We arrived at 5:00 a.m. and began setting up a series of 10 mist nets in a loop pattern around 6:00 a.m. The nets are made up of a black, fine mesh that is practically invisible to the birds as it blends into the forested background. Every hour we would walk the loop and check the nets for birds. Birds captured are delicately removed from the netting and then placed into a soft protective bag and then carried to the data collection station where they are identified, aged, sexed, weighed, and general condition noted. It is then banded with an aluminum numbered band (unless it was previously banded), and then released back into the wild. If your interested check with your local Audubon Society to see if they know of anyone needing volunteers to help with banding projects. It's an experience you'll never forget.

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