Well I’ve got some good news and some bad news. I guess I’ll start with the bad and get it out of the way. In nest 12, the oldest of the Purple Martin babies at day 15 now, one of the babies died. From the looks of things, I’m going to guess the baby had a broken neck.
Baby Martin With Possible Broken Neck
I’m just guessing, but what I can see happening is that the babies rushed towards the front of the nest when one of the parents flew in with some food. Somehow, the baby in this picture was trampled by the other babies.
Baby Purple Martin With Broken Neck
The above is the same baby removed from the nest. Again, just my guess on what happened. If anyone else has any ideas, please share.
Now on to the good news. I have a new nest but there are no eggs in there. I get a little concerned when a nest is laid this late compared to the others, because when the others are ready to migrate, the parents of this nest have a tough choice to make.
Nest 14 has only 1 baby and it is looking good. Since it is the only baby in this nest there is not much competition for food.
Nest 14 Lone Baby Purple Martin
Nest 16 has 2 babies
Nest 12 has 4 babies.
Nest 15 is the mystery nest with still 1 egg. I keep trying to see if any adults go in that nest, but so far I haven’t seen them.
Nest 1 has 3 babies
Nest 3 has 4 babies
Nest 5 has 5 babies
Nest 8 has 5 babies
Nest 6 has 5 babies
Nest 7 has 6 babies (picture below)
Nest 7 Bunch Of Purple Martin Babies
Nest 10 has 5 babies.
Nest 11 is the new mystery nest that was just built.
I’m tired, but I think that’s around 40 babies.
I have an update on the Purple Martin nesting activity for this year. Also, some of the pictures at the bottom of this post may gross you out, so you’ve been forewarned.
Nest 16 has 2 babies and 3 unhatched eggs
Nest 15 still has 1 unhatched egg (I need to watch this nest and see if any adults even go in this nest)
Nest 14 has 1 baby and 2 unhatched eggs
Nest 12 has 5 babies with their eyes open (and they squawk all the time)
Nest 1 has 3 babies and 2 unhatched eggs
Nest 3 the mom was in the house so I couldn’t check but previously had 5 eggs
Nest 5 all babies hatched (5)
Nest 8 has 2 babies and 5 unhatched eggs
Nest 6 has 2 babies and 3 eggs
Nest 7 still has 5 unhatched eggs
Nest 10 has 5 babies and had 1 unhatched egg. I removed this egg. Baby appeared stillborn (pictures below).
Here’s some pictures of inside the nests. None are great since I have to take them with my iPhone.
Three Purple Martin Babies And Three Eggs
Purple Martin Babies Sleeping
Older Purple Martin Baby With Two Unhatched Eggs
And now the not so pleasant pictures and story. I decided to remove the 1 unhatched egg from nest 10. When I took it out, the shell was somewhat soft. It instantly cracked open, and what appeared to be a stillborn Purple Martin was inside (that’s it’s little beak towards the right).
Unhatched Purple Martin Baby In Egg Shell
Removing it from it’s shell, it looked like this. The stomach area does not look healthy.
Unhatched Purple Martin Baby Out Of Egg Shell
I decided to bury this little baby under the Pomegranate tree. Don’t ask me why the Pomegranate tree as I really don’t know other than it’s a quiet area.
Unhatched Purple Martin Baby Buried
I created a small video collage of some of the backyard birds I have at feeding time. Feeding time is around 6 p.m., where I fill the bird feeder with Black Oil Sunflower Seed, sprinkle some Nut and Berry Seed, and put out a few mealworms. While I have no idea where some of these birds are sitting while I’m putting out the food, the definitely seem to watch me from somewhere as they appear just as soon as I put the seed out.
What prompted me to create a little video collage is because I saw one of the Carolina Chickadees sitting in the water bowl that I put out for the birds and it was taking a bath. I didn’t get my camera in time to video that moment, but I did get a few other shots. If I’m not feeling lazy, and the birds are active, I may try and get up early in the morning when there is better light and see if I can record some additional video.
I still have lots of unhatched Purple Martin eggs, but also have 2 nests that have babies. Thus far, the babies in nest 12 look quite healthy.
Baby Purple Martins From Nest 12
I haven’t had any Bluebird nests so far this year, but that hasn’t stopped the parents from visiting on a daily basis for mealworms. Today I had a little surprise. The parents led their two babies to my backyard! Perhaps I will get lucky and the parents will build their second bluebird nest of the season in one of the nest boxes in my backyard.
Bluebird Parents On First Day Of Leading Babies To Mealworms
Baby Bluebirds Making First Visit Of 2013
Well I saw my first Cottonmouth of the season; a Western Cottonmouth. As luck would have it I was watching my outdoor video cameras and noticed something slinking within the stream. At quick glance, I thought, oh, it’s just one of those broad banded water snakes that are not poisonous. I run inside to grab my snake tongs while of course carrying my iPhone for pictures.
Pretty calm snake, all things considered. My main goal was to determine if this is poisonous like the cottonmouth, or harmless like the broad banded water snake. My primary test is always to look at the eyes. Are they round? That’s a water snake. Are they slits? That’s a poisonous snake.
Damn. It’s a cottonmouth no doubt. Very strong and muscular, with a bite thrown at my snake tongs for good measure.
I want to explain what does through my head in this ordeal.
Let him live. He will be good at eating rats and mice and they generally don’t do anything unless provoked
That key word provoked. If I let him live and my dogs sense him, they are going to dash up and explore and sniff, and sure enough get bitten.
Plan B – Let him live but throw him over the fence into the woods. He’d most likely come right back because I have the perfect habitat, but worse, small kids play behind my fence with twigs and such.
Plan C Kill him, my last resort and something I really don’t want to do. I understand their value to nature.
I went with Plan C sadly. I don’t like killing anything, snakes included, but in trying to protect the dogs and kids I feel I have an obligation
First Cottonmouth Snake of 2013
I know we live in Texas and 99% of the population says kill any snake, but I’m not one of them. If it was a broad banded water snake he’d still be out there swimming.
If there’s everyone reading my blog who captures and then releases snakes, reach out to me. I can hold them for a day while you take them somewhere safe
I’ll conclude by saying sorry mr. snake. I didn’t want to hurt you I just felt like I had no choice.
Honestly I’m surprised the male and female Baltimore Orioles were still here this morning, but I’m certainly not trying to rush them off. The male appears much less shy than the female. I did take a couple of decent pictures in the early morning light, and both birds seemed to enjoy the bird stream for drinking and bathing.
Female Baltimore Oriole On Tree Stump
Front View Of Female Baltimore Oriole
Male Baltimore Oriole With Tail In Air
Male Baltimore Oriole With Grape Jelly On Bill
I still have about 5 Ruby Throated Hummingbirds hanging around, and they all are getting quite fat. They are also becoming increasingly aggressive with one another around the feeders. I happened to catch this male staking his claim on the feeder by the disappearing bird stream.
Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird Taking A Poop
Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird With Mouth Open
Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird Flying Towards Feeder
I’ve never seen this bird before and quite frankly, I was lucky to see it now. I saw this yellow shape dart in the trees behind my backyard. The image is heavily cropped, but if I am not mistaken, this is a Yellow Breasted Chat. Very shy birds from what I read.
Yellow Breasted Chat
Finally! The first eggs from one of the nests have hatched. I just took a quick peek as I didn’t want to upset the parents too much. From what I did see, 3 of the 5 eggs had hatched. I would expect that there should be continued hatchings almost daily.
Here’s a male Purple Martin bringing in a dead bamboo leaf to place on top of the eggs.
Male Purple Martin With Leaf In Mouth
I saw a pair of Baltimore Orioles today! The last time I saw a Baltimore Oriole in the backyard was back in September of 2011. I’ll apologize up front by saying these aren’t the best pictures, especially of the female, but I’m still culling through all of the pictures I took this evening trying to find the best ones. Consider these just teasers.
Female Baltimore Oriole
The male was much easier to photograph. He was eating some of the Pakistan Mulberries, and once I put out the grape jelly, went for that. The background of the sunflowers is real. I just let some of the sunflower seeds from the feeders grow.
Male Baltimore Oriole Eating Grape Jelly
Male Baltimore Oriole Eyeing Grape Jelly
Well today is roughly day 18 since I first saw the eggs in the Purple Martin houses, and none have hatched. From what I read, it’s normally around 16 days when the eggs hatch, but we have had a couple of cold days, so perhaps that’s the reason for the delay.
On the bright side I have 11 confirmed nests! On top of that, I have counted 57 eggs! Assuming I still know a little bit about math, that’s at least 79 Purple Martins.
Here’s the nest breakdowns
Nest 1 = 5 eggs
Nest 3 = 5 eggs
Nest 5 = 6 eggs
Nest 6 = 5 eggs
Nest 7 = 5 eggs
Nest 8 = 7 eggs (that’s alot!)
Nest 10 = 4 eggs
Nest 12 = 5 eggs
Nest 14 = 5 eggs
Nest 15 = 1 egg (a little concerned about this one)
Nest 16 = 6 eggs
Here’s a photo of 2 of the females just watching me.
Female Purple Martins On Perch
I just received a comment on a blog post I did in January 2011. It was about how cold it can be and a Monarch Butterfly’s survival (here’s a link to the original post) .
The person said they live in Canada and they just found a Monarch. They wanted to know what they should do to help it survive. I’ll post a copy of my response below, but I would think this is highly unusual, especially since there is still snow on the ground up there! Also, how that Monarch made it all the way to Canada and finding nectar sources is equally amazing.
For any Canadian readers out there (or Monarch experts), is it normal to see Monarch Butterflies this early in the year?
Below is my response to the person who wrote. If anyone has different ideas, please let me know and I will pass them along.
I wanted to write you personally, but I’ll also post my response on my blog. That’s amazing that you already have a Monarch in Canada! I would really recommend you report your sighting to Journey North (http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/). I’ve never heard of a Monarch making it that for North this early in the year.
To fly, Monarch’s need the temperature to be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They can survive temperatures below freezing for short periods of time, but the bigger issue is it will need a source of food and if there is snow on the ground, you probably don’t have any nectar plants for it to feed. I don’t think they will use Apples or bananas. However, I do have a solution, and if you do a search on my blog, I’m pretty sure I have some posts and a video or two about how to do what I’m going to suggest.
You can feed it gatorade, or this juice product we have in the States (not sure if it’s in Canada) called Juicy-Juice. Soak a cotton ball in the juice. You can then try placing the monarch on the cotton ball. If it’s really hungry (and/or smart) it will start feeding. Sometimes they need a little encouragement, so you can hold it by the top of it’s wings, and have someone every so lightly unfurl it’s proboscis into the cotton ball with juice. After a couple of attempts, it should start drinking.
As far as letting it go, if there are any flowering plants, and if the temps are above 50, you can probably let it go, although it may really have to hunt for food. Depending on if it’s male or female, if it’s the latter, she’s probably going to be hunting for milkweed to lay her eggs on.
Hope that helps somewhat. Let me know how it turns out
I finally can provide an update on my Purple Martins and their nest building. I have 9 nests so far (2 in the gourd houses, and 7 in the regular housing). The oldest eggs are about 7 days old now.
I’ll give the nest and egg total in a moment, but I wanted to share a picture (taken with my iPhone) from inside one of the nest boxes. This is inside one of the Trendsetter compartments. You can see there is quite a bit of room. Y’all will also notice the mirror thing in there. It’s really quite a neat little tool. It’s a simple inspection mirror that a “normal” person would probably use to work on their car or inspect air conditioning type things. It’s also a great tool to look inside of bird nests without disturbing the nests. It was only $7.00 from Amazon and here’s a link if you are interested.
Looking Inside Purple Martin House With Mirror
Nest 1 – no eggs yet
Nest 3 – no eggs yet
Nest 5 – no eggs yet
Nest 8 – no eggs yet
Nest 9 – Dang sparrow nest I keep removing so it doesn’t count
Nest 10 – no eggs yet
Nest 12 – Has 5 eggs and is the oldest nest
Nest 14 – Has 4 eggs
Nest 15 – Has eggs but I couldn’t tell how many just yet without disrupting the nest
Nest 16 – Has 2 eggs
Thus, I have at least 18 adult Purple Martins, and likely some others because I know they use the housing, but they haven’t built any obvious nests
I’ll go ahead and warn you right now. This post is going to have lots of Eastern Bluebird photos, so if you have a slow connection I apologize.
I titled this post training Bluebirds, but make no mistake, they really have trained me. However, just for kicks, assume I could actually train Bluebirds.
Perhaps I might have the female Bluebird lift her leg on command, like this picture.
Female Eastern Bluebird Lifting Leg Eating Mealworms
Or perhaps I would teach the male Bluebird to wave at me with one of its wings.
Male And Female Eastern Bluebird Sitting Together
Or maybe I would tell the male Bluebird to make a mealworm moustache.
Male Eastern Bluebird With Mealworm Moustache
Or, how about having the male spread his wings up in the air on command?
Male Eastern Bluebird With Wings Spread Wide
Well, that might be some of the things I would teach the Bluebirds if I could actually train them (which I can’t).
Nonetheless, taking pictures of Bluebirds being birds is entertaining (at least for me) as well.
Male Eastern Bluebird Flying Away From Nest Box
Male Eastern Bluebird On Top Of Nest Box
Male Eastern Bluebird Leaving Nest Box
I conclude this post with a young Mockingbird picture. Mockingbirds tend to have a nasty disposition, and this young bird is no different. However, when it tried to intimidate the Bluebirds, they took it straight to the ground. Below is a picture of it sitting on the fence after being taught an important lesson.
Young Mockingbird Sitting On Fence