Friday, June 5, 2009

Purple Martin Update (2009)

It's been a terrific spring for my purple martins. The colony has doubled each year since I started three years ago and this year is no different. There are 13 pairs nesting this year - compared to 6 pairs last year.


My current setup will hold a total of 16 nest, 12 in the house and 4 in the artificial gourds. With 13 nest taken this spring, that leaves just 3 available nesting spots. I think it's time to add a new duplex next spring!

Okay, lets take a quick peak inside;






For those unfamiliar, purple martins nest together in groups called colonies. In fact, they are completely dependant on man-made nest houses in the eastern half of the United States. Purple martin houses must be specifically designed for their needs and must be mounted in an open space where they hunt for flying insects.

Just for fun I made my own nesting record chart using Microsoft PowerPoint. This chart shows which nesting areas have eggs, which ones have chicks, and the ones that are empty. The X and the number beside it represents the number of chicks in the nest. I update the chart each time I do a nest check - usually once a week until the chicks begin to fledge. Click to enlarge.

6-3-09 Nest Check

As you can see I have a total of 30 eggs remaining and a total of 34 hatched chicks. That's a lot of babies!

To see how you can help purple martins check out this link:

To learn more about attracting and managing purple martins check out the below link to the Purple Martin Conservation Association:

Go here to check out more camera critters or here to see more bird photography!

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FAB said...

Excellent & informative post Alan. We don't have any similar species over here nesting in that format.

Les said...

I bought my parents a Martin house as they certainly need it on the Eastern Shore (mosquito heaven). Unfortunately the Starlings moved in and will not move out.

Unknown said...

We have several Purple Martin Condos in our neighborhood. We love to see them flying around eating the mosquitos! How in the world did you get up there to take those photos...ladder?

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

That is impressive Alan. How do you get up there to count the eggs and babies? Doesn't it disturb the birds?

Snap said...

I love purple martins... the exterminators !!!! Wonderful informative post.

Nikki - Notes of Life said...

That's quite a bird house! I love the pictures. Thanks for sharing all this with us as I've found it quite interesting :)

Anya said...

Fantastic shots,
sooooooo lovely :)
Have a nice weekend !!

Carletta said...

Wow, really, really awesome shots!
I'm wondering with Darla - how you got the shots. :)

My post is here: Carletta’s Captures.

Villas Girl said...

This is wonderful. I love your series of photos from eggs to babies.

Anna said...

That is just so neat. I didn't know anything about Purple Martins.

Ria said...

this is fabulous! it reminds me of the time I watched butterflies hatch :-)

mine's up here

Carrie said...

Aw they grow up so fast, next thing you know they will be flying out of the nest.

Larry D said...

Wonderful photos and post!



Arija said...

I think you are a wonderfully benevolent landlord to provide so much free high rise accomodatin and keep tabs on the welfare of your tenants.
Terrific home invasin photos.

gwendolen said...

Great post Alan. Looks like the hotel business for purple martins is booming.

Why is it that they they are dependant on man-made nest houses in east USA? Did something happen to their natuaral habitat there?

mick said...

Great photos - especially the ones inside the nests. Nice to be able to see all those details from eggs to babies - and eventually fledglings.

Anonymous said...

Incredible pictures, Alan. I have been tempted to get some of the plastic gourds, but until this year I hadn't seen any martins around the other houses in our neighborhood.

I hope you'll continue the chronicle until the babies fledge.

Dawn Fine said...

Great information!those bear chested chicks are adorable!

DeniseinVA said...

Very cool, just love what you've done for these Martins and I enjoyed learning about them. Great photos, thank you.

Aeka said...

wow..Great photos and good post.!

Unknown said...

That is so cool.

Unknown said...

Les, Make sure you use Starling Resistant Entrance Holes (SREH)Then no more starlings!
Darla, those house can be lowered. SOme have telescopic poles and others are on a pulley or even a winch!
Janet, No, it doesn't bother them at all. Check out My Purple Martin Blog when you get a chance!
Gwendolen, The native Americans have been putting up gourds for them for so long that the purple martins "forgot" how to find a natural cavity to nest in. Isn't that interesting??
If you want to learn more about purple martins check out