Thursday, May 12, 2011

2011 Purple Martin Notes 4

As I walked under the first gourd rack I looked up to see a SY (second year) male looking down at me. I then looked at the ground below the gourds to see more pipped eggs. Checking on the ground below your martin housing can reveal all sorts of goings on. Today I find bad goings on.

Early in the day I had observed a male and female English sparrow entering one of the gourds where before contained a purple martin nest with two eggs, which were missing and could be included in the destroyed eggs I found on the ground. English sparrows will pip eggs as they usurp the nest of other birds. I decided to set up a gourd insert trap in that particular gourd to see if I could catch one of them, particularly the male. You see capturing and killing the female will not stop this mayhem, because the male will only find another mate. Kill the male and the female will abandon the nest and it’s over. Now I know many of you reading this (whom probably are not purple martin landlords) may object, but you must understand that this invasive, non-native species (along with the European starling) are very destructive to not only purple martins, but many other native songbirds in this country. And to allow them access to your purple martin housing will only cause your martin’s lives to become a living hell. In a nutshell- unless you control these pests you have no business putting up martin housing, because you’re doing more harm than good. Unfortunately I was unable to catch it…… today anyway.

There was some good news though….I found a total of eleven new little nestlings. In one gourd I found four young and one unhatched egg that had been pushed near the entrance. This egg was either infertile or addled. It is amazing how the adult female can tell if an egg is “no good”.

I’ve been told by folks at PMCA that they theorize that they do it by feel. This is not the first time I’ve seen this. Several years back I took an egg that had been pushed from the nest and marked it with a pencil. I then placed the egg back in the clutch with the others. Five days later when I performed the next nest check I found that the marked egg had once again been pushed out. Amazing….

NOTE: NEVER REMOVE UNHATCHED EGGS FROM A PURPLE MARTIN NEST UNTIL THE END OF BREEDING SEASON, UNLESS THEY ARE OBVIOUSLY ROTTEN, BROKEN, OR LEAKING.

Other suggested reading:

House Sparrow Revenge

House Sparrows and Starlings Are Super Competitors

Why Landlords Should Conduct Weekly Nest Checks

Don't Throw the Eggs Out!

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