Saturday, May 19, 2007

First Purple Martin Nestlings of Season

Dropped the gourds today to find the first nestlings of the season. Tiny and pink and oh so helpless, but you'd be amazed at how fast they develop. And there are still 101 eggs that haven't hatched yet! Statistics say they will not all hatch, but it doesn't hurt to hope. As more eggs begin to hatch activity at the colony will increase as the parents will be working their tails off collecting food for the ever gaping mouths of their young.

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Blogger Camera Trap Codger said...

That's quite a colony you have there. Be sure to show us the gourd houses one of these days. We used to have a colony next to our garden in VA, and they made great company while we were gardening. Good luck with the hatching and fledging success.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Hugh Griffith said...

The leaves are amazing. What kind are they? I've never seen a nest of dried leaves before. Are the leaves placed while still green, or are they old leaves, gleaned from the ground from beneath evergreen trees?

9:37 PM  
Blogger Eagle Eye said...

Does going so near the nest cause the mom to abondone her babies?

6:57 AM  
Blogger Jace Stansbury said...

Codger- I'll definitely get a photo of the gourds up soon. I have found that they are much easier to manage than a house.

Hugh- martins normally use leaves in nest building. Oak, willow, tallow, whatever is available. I normally have a pile of leaves that I've raked from my yard nearby for them to use. After the clutch is laid they will place green leaves around the eggs. There are several theories as to why they do this. One is that they provide needed moisture for the eggs, the other is that green leaves give off natural fumigants to repell nest parasites.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Jace Stansbury said...

Eagle Eye- no abandonment will occur. An old wive's tale. Purple martins have become accustommed to having their nests checked. Maybe it's a way of saying thanks to us for taking care of them. They will land on a perch I have set up for them and watch as I go about my landlord duties. They have become totally dependent on humans for housing, and it's been said that if we stopped providing housing they would literally become extinct.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Eagle Eye said...

Couldn't that be dangerouse, though? Because, if something happened, where humans lost interest, or the birds' population grew too quickly and not enough houseing was available, that species could die out. Is it not better to let them do at least some by themselves, so they are not COMPLETELY dependant on humans?

8:55 AM  
Blogger Jace Stansbury said...

Eagle Eye- First off I doubt very seriously that enough humans would lose interest. I guess you gotta be a martin landlord to understand that :-) As far as the population growing too quickly it has actually fallen off in past years due to weather related mortality (global warming?) and we can't forget the risks that go along with their migration across the gulf to Brazil and back. With the competition they face with the introduction of english sparrows and european starling, both vicious nest site competitiors, I'd say their chances are better with managed man-made nest sites than being on their own. I guess also because of man's radical changes to the continent providing housing is kind of a way of making up for this.

10:19 PM  

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