Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Purple Martin Notes 3

It has been eight days since my last nest check, which is a little late. I normally do this every five days, the rule of thumb being every 5-7 days.

Before I got started I found an egg on the ground that had a gaping hole in it. Tiny black "sugar" ants had discovered it and were feeding on the contents. It's a good possibility it was an English sparrow or European starling that possibly "pipped" this egg. But then again, it could also have been another purple martin that's responsible. Sometimes the urge to mate becomes so intense in unmated SY (second year) males they will destroy a nest of eggs and even kill young in order to get the parents of those eggs/young into thinking reproductive failure has occured and consequently dissolving the "relationship". This in turn frees up the female for the unmated SY male to then possibly have a partner. This behavior is termed "infanticide". I wrote an article about my experience with this for the PMCA several years back. This behavior is seen in other species of birds also.

The check yielded a total of 45 eggs not counting the single egg I found in a vacant gourd. This is odd to find an egg where there isn't even a nest for it. Why did this happen? Was the egg infertile and moved to this empty gourd by one of the parents? Normally they would either push an infertile or addled egg out of the nest bowl or completely out of the nest to the ground. This is what I like about being a landlord- lots of interesting behaviors and questions to be pondered.

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