Sunday, June 17, 2007

Premature Fledging in Martins



It seems only recently I was counting eggs in all of the martin nests and now I'm seeing nestlings that are within a few days of fledging. After hatching it takes a minimum of 26 days from the time they're bare naked to fully feathered and ready to soar. The ones in the photo are 24 days old and when you have them 20 days or older you must be very careful during nest checks to prevent premature fledging. In other words trying to fly before they're quite ready to.


I do this by checking my records to see which nests have nestlings at this age or older and the moment I get the gourds lowered I will place a rag with a string attached into the entrance hole of that particular gourd. When I'm done I gently raise the gourds back into the air, wait 5 minutes or so to allow them to settle down and then pull the string removing the rag. Though some nestlings may still jump after settling I can refer to my detailed nest records and determine where it came from and place it back into its respective gourd. Hard to believe that the nesting season is about to end.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Eagle Eye said...

I have three questions:
First, where did you get those nifty, and attractive looking "gourds"? I'd like to get some, so that I could encourage some more varieties of birds to my place.
Second, is it ok to take an egg out of the nest to candle it, so that I can see what's going on insede?
Third, what do you do (since you seem to take such care to complete detailed documents of everything you observe with your birds) if you go away for vacation, or simply have to leave?

5:00 PM  
Blogger Jace Stansbury said...

I have three questions:
First, where did you get those nifty, and attractive looking "gourds"? I'd like to get some, so that I could encourage some more varieties of birds to my place.


I bought them from the Purple Martin Conservation Association. They're kinda pricey, but I guarantee they'll be the last ones you'll buy. They are made of thick plastic and will pretty much last forever. The only thing you may have to do (after several years) is maybe replace the plastic caps that cover the access hole. They're cheap. Here's the website: click on "shop"

http://purplemartin.org



Second, is it ok to take an egg out of the nest to candle it, so that I can see what's going on inside?

The only time I handle the eggs is when I'm counting them. Usually they'll bury the eggs in leaves to hide them from predators and I'll have to gently slide my fingers into the leaves to count them. I wouldn't handle them any other time though. It wouldn't take much to crush or break them.




Third, what do you do (since you seem to take such care to complete detailed documents of everything you observe with your birds) if you go away for vacation, or simply have to leave?

Well I try not to plan anything during the nesting season, but if something happens I'm usually not gone any longer than a week. I do nest checks every 5-7 days and it would be ok if I missed a nest check.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Eagle Eye said...

Thanks. You know, I've been reading your blog for about 3-4 months now, and I am subscribed to it as well. I thought I might tell you now, that your blog is the most imformative and interesting of any (blog or websight) I have yet seen. Thanks so much for starting it up for public use. It really helps my curiosity.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Jace Stansbury said...

Thanks very much for the kind comment. I've always wanted to write about my outdoor experiences and never knew really how to go about it and then blogging came along which provided the perfect instrument for getting my thoughts out to the masses. Hopefully it will continue to be interesting.

5:20 PM  

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