Still have one active Purple Martin nest; and hawk woes

caroline94535August 22, 2013

I still have Purple Martins, or rather one ASY (after-second-year = fully mature) male and his two chicks. This is the very latest in the season that I've had them to stay. They are normally grown and gone by early in the first week of August.

Eleven of the 12 nests have fledged, but the late nest, Gourd 17, is still active. I don't have exact dates, but I know the eggs in that gourd were not laid until beginning around July 10. During the July 17 nest changes I noted there were four eggs. Health issues have prevented me from doing the near-daily nest checks I always pride myself on; I hope to do much better next spring!

There were two small chicks in the nest when I checked a couple weeks ago. The other two eggs were duds.

This nest is yet another victim to the nasty Cooper's hawk that has plagued me this summer. I saw it take two martins, and I know it took the hen from this nest, too. The hen is gone; the male has been feeding the chicks on his own for more than two weeks, and the porch is broken off.

I'll give this ASY male credit; he's hanging in there and feeding the two chicks the best he can. They are big enough now that they poke their heads out of the gourd. He's trying to get them to fly out.

The other 11 families have fledged and are not coming back to the gourds for sleeping. There is one ASY male that flies in with him now and then, but this male does not help feed. He's been sleeping in the gourd just above 17.

Papa ASY feeds the chicks, but not too often. He circles high above the rack calling and calling. I know he's been calling for the female, and probably the rest of the colony that has moved on without him, and probably trying to encourage the chicks to fledge. I suppose it should be any day now.

Can you believe the blasted hawk was actually standing on the house sparrow trap, trying to get to the sparrows inside. I stomped up to within 20 feet of him - yelling and brandishing my ever-trusty kitchen broom - before he deigned to look at me and fly off - at no great speed. Geesh; dissed by a hawk. It is a huge Coopers; a female I'm sure.

Yes; I AM and abiding by the rules. Hawks are federally protected cannot be killed, even though their numbers are skyrocketing and they are dining on my declining-numbers Purple Martins. Still, it galls me to see him take my birds when there are a million doves and sparrows near the grain elevators.

The chipping sparrows seem to have had a very productive season and I've never seen so many young white-breasted nuthatches; they are a hoot to watch. I had one brief visit by a male cardinal; that made my heart sing.

I heard the male PM a few minutes ago. If I get home in time tonight I'll try to get a photo of the last two chicks being fed.

Photo shows a group of fledglings coming back to the gourds.

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Just love looking at the Martins which I don't have. But I have had many batches of cardinals this summer. At least three pairs nested in my yard. Hawks are a bane of my existence too since they love to swoop down and try to kill my koi. There has been a net over the pond since one killed my prize koi years ago. The other day they were spooked and wouldn't eat out of my hand. I suspect he was back threatening them.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 3:21PM
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Thanks for the update, Caroline. I've enjoyed your PM tales this summer. My bluebird pair quit after fledging their second brood, though I used to always have three broods. And Carolina wrens are just rampant in my back yard.

Oh yeah, the hawk comes by here, too. I think it's a sharp-shinned hawk; it goes through the woods very fast.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 5:12PM
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Always a treat to hear about your 'babies', Caroline.

We're on round three of Cardinals -- if the young ones a-courtin' now lay eggs. We have mature arbor vitae around two sides of our lot -- and some privit that they seem to favor.

I was drawn to the creek last week by calling between a pair of (I think?) Flickers and their four 'kids'. (Whistling cries; spotted breasts; red 'gorgets' on their necks.) They were searching for insects on tree trunks -- and probably finding plenty of emerald ash borers. We have some big tree removal bills coming up!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 11:39AM
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Caroline, I always enjoy your stories and photos of your purple martins. I'm sorry about that hawk though. Our front and back yard are filled with bird feeders which our hawk must think is a wonderful smorgasborg. We are always chasing that hawk. I know the hawk has to eat too, but I wish it ate seeds and bugs instead.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 2:33PM
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caroline - I seldom ever post here anymore but I do love to follow your PM stories. They are always such a joy and I was almost brought to tears over the papa taking care of his little ones. Maybe that darn hawk (I'm sure, a beauty) will find his meals someplace else. Keep that broom handy!

I have cats and I do so miss the birds... and squirrels even.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 7:25PM
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