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Thread: Latest Purple Martins' update from ND

  1. #1
    Junior Member Caroline94535's Avatar
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    Latest Purple Martins' update from ND

    As of today, June 30, I still have 12 successfully nesting pairs of Purple Martins.

    In the past three days, 40 chicks have hatched. One chick died within hours of hatching, so there are 39 chicks in the gourds today.

    There are 23 eggs still being incubated.

    The Tree Swallow chicks are growing by leaps and bounds. I'm still saying there are six in the nest, although I'm having a dickens of a time counting them.

    I saw three teeny-tiny House Wren heads in the nest box I maintain behind a neighbor's house. These chicks' noggins were no larger than a small green pea. Teeny-Tinys for sure.

    I hear young Crows making a terrible racket, but I've not actually seen them. I swore after fighting Cooper's Hawks for three years I would never, ever complain about crows again. Crows keep the Cooper's Hawks away; crows don't eat (or can't reach) the young martins. I do everything possible to encourage the crows. Cat kibble, anyone?

    There is a pair of crows nesting at the far end of the block across the road from me. Haven't seen a Cooper's all season, knock on wood!

    JUNE 30, 2015
    Tier #1 - 8 gourds


    Gourd 1 - 5 live chicks, 1 chick dead - from original six eggs
    Gourd 2 - 6 eggs
    Gourd 3 - 5 chicks - from the original 7 eggs (I didn't want to move them around to find the other eggs)
    Gourd 4 - 6 chicks - from the original 6 eggs
    Gourd 5 - Empty
    Gourd 6 - 7 chicks from the original 7 eggs - I'm so happy!
    Gourd 7 - 6 chicks plus 1 egg from the original 7 eggs
    Gourd 8 - 2 chicks - from the original two eggs

    Tier #2 - 7 gourds

    Gourd 9 - 4 eggs
    Gourd 10 - 3 eggs, up 1 from last check
    Gourd 11 - 2 chicks, plus 4 eggs from the original six eggs
    Arm 12 - No gourd hung
    Gourd 14 - 5 eggs
    Gourd 16 - 0 eggs
    Gourd 17 - 0 eggs
    Gourd 18 - 4 chicks from the original four eggs

    Here are the six chicks in Gourd 4. Each season I keep one special photo to represent that year's Purple Martin adventure. This very well may be my 2015 photo.

    The big guy, lower right, is just a smidge over an inch tip to tail!




    Here are some of The Mamas and The Papas after I finished the nest checks and raised the rack back up.
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    Last edited by Caroline94535; 06-30-2015 at 08:00 PM. Reason: Added second photo
    "Not all those who wander are lost." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

    -1974 Singer 252 Fashion Mate; 1954 Singer 15-91;
    1952 Pfaff 130-6; Bernina 230PE, and Pfaff Serger 4874.

  2. #2
    Power Poster
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    ​Wow, that's quite a crop!

  3. #3
    Senior Member sherian's Avatar
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    Looks wonderful. Did you make the gourds? I have never seen them only the apartment birds houses for purple martins.

  4. #4
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    So exciting. Thank you so much for sharing
    Carmen E.

  5. #5
    Power Poster ManiacQuilter2's Avatar
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    I agree. What a crop of chicks. What an adventure is occurring near you.
    A Good Friend, like an old quilt, is both a Treasure and a Comfort

  6. #6
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    How long have you been doing this " maternity ward for birds"? Quite an interesting hobby......where did you get those gourds?

  7. #7
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    What fun! My mom always wanted to do what you are doing with purple martins but we were never on a flyway. Great job.

  8. #8
    Super Member Wanabee Quiltin's Avatar
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    We are in a flooded area of the Illinois River right now, it is cresting today. There are two purple martin houses across from us and one of the houses flooded. The birds are very upset and flying everywhere. I loved your pictures and the type of purple martin houses you have are interesting, never seen them before.

  9. #9
    Super Member Roberta's Avatar
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    I had been watching some Swallows caring for their young in one of our birdhouses. Monday I noticed the door had blown open on the house during a cold a windy rain storm on Sunday and all the babies had died. It truly broke my heart because both Momma and Papa were taking such good care of them only to lose them all just when they were about ready to leave the nest. If only I'd noticed the door had blown open sooner :-(

  10. #10
    Super Member Sandra-P's Avatar
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    Wow, they are so sweet. Thank you for sharing.
    Sandra

  11. #11
    Super Member Latrinka's Avatar
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    Awe! Now that is just too sweet, sooo cute!
    If a woman's work is never done....why start?

  12. #12
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    Spectacular! I just looked up the difference between Tree Swallows and Purple Martins. For years I have been calling the Tree Swallows Martins. They don't seem to mind because at least two nests of them are raised here every year. Can you tell us more about your rack, how it operates, and if the houses are painted gourds or terracotta, etc. If raising the rack doesn't need too much muscle, I think I could maintain one of these colonies. Would this work on a flagpole already installed? We are on a hill above marshes on the Willapa river, and enjoy watching the birds as they perform "skeeter patrol". We have not seen nearly as many of the birds this year. I hope it's because there has been less rain this summer, and not because of some campaign to spray spartina.

  13. #13
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    I've been reading at The Purple Martin Society, especially the questions and answers. That is a tremendous amount of work you have to do in order to protect and launch healthy birds. This is a service you do, and not a hobby. Thank you for preserving this bit of beauty in your corner of the world. When I was reading about building the raccoon baffle, my thoughts kept going to how far a Douglas Squirrel would jump to land on a nesting gourd. I watched one this morning as it circled through the treetops scolding a doe. We have intense wind storms out of the SW, and anything that high up would suffer. Thanks again for posting your photos.

  14. #14
    Junior Member Caroline94535's Avatar
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    I'm late getting back to answer some of the questions, but my birds, and I, thank you for the interest and kind comments.

    I love all wildlife, but I especially enjoy having the Purple Martins in my front yard! They are declining due to fewer and fewer people providing safe, proper housing for them to nest in after their migration from Brazi. A flimsy plastic box is nothing but a death-trap.

    First, for anyone interested in learning more about the wonderful native Purple Martins I suggest going to the home page of the Purple Martin Conservation Society (PMCA) and reading each of the six documents in the Download Center. That gives a good overview of the birds and their nesting needs. I've added a link at the end of this post.

    Geri B - This is my 13th season of hosting my colony. Each and every season has had a unique set of challenges, heart breaks, and joys.

    ELNAN - Thank you for the kind words, and while it may 'read' like a lot of work, it is a hobby and once properly set up (which can be a job!) the birds take it from there. I do try to keep meticulous records for the two PM groups I belong to, and I do at least two complete nest changes per gourd during the nesting season. Less mites and dryer nests mean more chicks fledge and fly off to their furtures.

    My gourds are 14 feet off the ground. I've never had a squirrel attempt to get to them. They tend to attack birds that nest in trees.

    I'm in North Dakota; my pole, rack, and gourds routinely stand up to 30-50 MPH winds. The pole is a 2 and 3/8-inch round pole is set into a ground sleeve that is in turn set into a 42-inch deep, 12-inch wide, concrete filled hole. It's pretty stable, LOL!

    The rack fits over the pole and holds the 16 arms that the gourds are wired to. There is a pulley at the top of the pole. A stainless steel cable hooks to the rack, goes up and over the top pulley, then goes down to the bottom of the pole and is attached to a boat winch.

    I flip a lever on the winch, turn the handle, and the rack raises or lowers down to where I can open the gourds' lids and check on the young birds.

    Tree Swallows and Purple Martins are "cousins." There's an entire protocol on how to manage the two species so the TS don't run off your entire PM colony. I'll post a link to it, too.

    As for the gourds, I'm using all man-made gourds this year. There is a combination of Super Gourds and Excluder Vertical gourds, you can Google them for the particulars. They are about 11-12" in diameter, made of heavy UV protected PVC, and are easy to clean and maintain. My birds, and I, do prefer the natural, modified gourds, and I have several, but they are getting re-painted and tweaked this summer so I pulled out all the man-made ones. They weigh a bit over 2-lbs. each.

    I make some modifications to them such as adding PVC plumbing elbows for extra ventilation near the top of the gourd; adding 3/8" uplift tubing through the hanging holes so rain does not run down the hanging wire and drip into the nest. I'm in the process of installing PVC tunnels that I buy from a man in SC. These prevent hawks and owls from reaching into the gourds and pulling out the chicks. The birds also love the porches.

    I'm rushed for time today, but I'll be back tomorrow to answer the rest of the questions and will hopefully have a new nest check to report.


    Toward the bottom of this link is a downloadable wealth of Purple Martin information.

    http://www.purplemartin.org/
    Last edited by Caroline94535; 07-03-2015 at 09:59 AM.
    "Not all those who wander are lost." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

    -1974 Singer 252 Fashion Mate; 1954 Singer 15-91;
    1952 Pfaff 130-6; Bernina 230PE, and Pfaff Serger 4874.

  15. #15
    Junior Member Caroline94535's Avatar
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    This shows the top of one of the Super Gourds. To add extra ventilation for the birds, I drill a hole and inserted a 1/2" plumbing elbow, (some people use the 3/4" size). It is caulked in place it to make it water tight.

    I also enlarge the hanging holes with a 3/8" drill bit. I cut a 3" long piece of 3/8" uplift tubing and tap it through the new holes and caulk the edges. Now the hanging wire runs through the tubing. If rain runs down the wire it may go inside the tubing, but it cannot get into the gourd. Dry chicks = healthy chicks.

    I use #12 or #14 solid strand electrical (copper) wire to attach the gourds to the hanging arms. Each gourd uses about 23" of the wire.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "Not all those who wander are lost." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

    -1974 Singer 252 Fashion Mate; 1954 Singer 15-91;
    1952 Pfaff 130-6; Bernina 230PE, and Pfaff Serger 4874.

  16. #16
    Junior Member Caroline94535's Avatar
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    This photo was taken looking into the entry port. It has a screw on/off lid. I have just added a 3" diameter tunnel to the front of the gourd. This will prevent owls and hawks from clinging to the gourd with one foot and pulling the Purple Martins out with the other foot.

    I have my fingers through the tunnel to show the size scale. Once the front entry plate and porch are added to the outside of the tunnel I cannot slip my fingers through.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "Not all those who wander are lost." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

    -1974 Singer 252 Fashion Mate; 1954 Singer 15-91;
    1952 Pfaff 130-6; Bernina 230PE, and Pfaff Serger 4874.

  17. #17
    Junior Member Caroline94535's Avatar
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    This is early spring and we're getting ready to raise the gourd rack. Wes has it cranked down; we wired on the gourds, and raised it again. Actually, he moved the winch a bit and was re-tightening it.

    I have the gourds prepped and hung by April 15. I keep duct tape over the entry holes to keep all other birds out until the Purple Martins arrive; usually by April 23. Once I see the first PM I run out, lower the rack, open several gourds, and raise it back up. When I see many martins, I open the rest of the gourds.

    This photo shows the top tier of gourds only. We had not yet hung the second tier before he adjusted the winch.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "Not all those who wander are lost." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

    -1974 Singer 252 Fashion Mate; 1954 Singer 15-91;
    1952 Pfaff 130-6; Bernina 230PE, and Pfaff Serger 4874.

  18. #18
    Junior Member Caroline94535's Avatar
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    A couple natural gourds that I'm modifying into martin housing.

    These are huge kettle gourds, the same size or larger than the SuperGourds.

    They dry for a year; that process leaves them mildew-stained and dirty. Then I mark and cut the locations for the access port (higher up to the right of the entry area) and for the entry tunnel and porch. Drill drainage holes in the bottom and hanging and ventilation holes in the neck, scrape and clean the interiors, and power wash all the mildew stains off the exterior. Let them dry for weeks again.

    I will caulk in the access ports, entry tunnels, and hanging tubes, prime the gourds and then give the three coats of high quality white exterior satin paint. They will be in service next spring.

    Well maintained, they can last up to 30 years.


    The lower photo shows a natural gourd on the far left. This was taken while I lived on the base and had 11 gourds offered on two poles. Do not put your birds, or yourself, through the dangers of a telescoping pole. Email me if you want to know all the death and destruction that can cause. Get a system with ropes and pulleys, or go easier and safer with the steel cable, pulley, and winch.

    I had not yet learned about and installed the hanging tubes here.
    Attached Images Attached Images

    "Not all those who wander are lost." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

    -1974 Singer 252 Fashion Mate; 1954 Singer 15-91;
    1952 Pfaff 130-6; Bernina 230PE, and Pfaff Serger 4874.

  19. #19
    Senior Member raynhamquilter's Avatar
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    You are Amazing people! This hobby is a wonderful gift to the birds and to all of us. Thank you for your dedication to the future.
    raynhamquilter
    I hope you dance!

  20. #20
    Power Poster
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    They are beautiful..Love birds as I see you do...

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