Weekend Birding: Purple Martins and a Wren Update
As part of last week’s bird walk, we got an up-close look at a Purple Martin colony. The Martins always nest in groups almost exclusively in man-made multi-unit birdhouses. The colonies require monitoring and one of the members of my bird club is a volunteer for a colony established at a local golf course.
Being a Purple Martin landlord means checking the birds several times a week, preventing competing species such as House Sparrows and Starlings from nesting in the compartments or harming the nestlings, and keeping the nests free of parasites. The multi-unit houses are on a retractable pole and can be lowered for nest monitoring.
The birds don’t mind humans and tolerated our presence while we observed their behavior and looked into their home. They roosted on or near the house while one of the other houses was lowered. We got to peek inside a few of the nests and to observe a young nestling up close. This little one is about 10 to 12 days old.
The Purple Martin is the largest of the North American Swallows. They can be found across most of the US and Southern Canada except for the interior mountain areas. They are migratory and spend their winters in Brazil. They return to the same nesting area each spring. This year they returned a few weeks early, probably due to our unusually warm weather.
Below is one of the females who was patiently observing the humans. The males are solid glossy black.
For more information and photos visit last year’s post from the Purple Martin presentation, which has become an annual event for my bird club.
I am happy to announce the birth of an unknown number of nestlings in my wren house. On July 11th I noticed the parents carrying bugs into the house, a good indication that there are little mouths to feed. After about 15 days the babies are ready to leave the nest.
This morning I saw both parents bringing yummy insects. The male has not deserted his mate, tried to start a second family or become a deadbeat dad as they sometimes do (wrens are polygamous). He’s been tending the nest box all week.
Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.
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