Blog history - 2009

Feb 2009   
We saw our first purple martin for 2009 on Feb 8th. This is a couple of days earlier than last year. As usual - its too early for the birds to start coming. We put up the T-14 with the 3 rooms on the north side closed. By the end of the month, we had three males and two females.

March 2009   
It looks like we might have another bad year - we are about 5 inches below normal in rainfall. If we don't get rain, there may not be enough insects for all of the birds. We've had a couple of cold spells and Harold has fed the birds scrambled eggs. We've done this enough years that a couple of the birds remember how it works. Before long, there is a flock of birds hovering over the deck waiting to have a piece of egg catapulted up to them. We really need to try feeding trays. We put up the T-11 and T-24 (still with the north sides closed). Its funny how you go along thinking you have a few birds, when suddenly you realize you have a ton of birds and need to put up more housing.

April 2009   
We put up the last house (metal) and the 5 gourds. We also opened up all of the rooms on the north side - we now have 62 cavities available. We also had our first subadult arrive on April 11th. For the last few years, we have put out pine needles for nesting material. We didn't put any out this year - I had hoped this would keep them from starting to build nests and lay eggs as early as they have in the past. It may have slowed them down by a week - our first egg was layed on Apr 26th vs Apr 19th last year. At the end of April, we had 43 nests and 34 eggs. And wouldn't you know it, it finally started to rain. We got 5 inches in two days - I wish that had been spread out over the last couple of months.

May 3, 2009   
The month of May has started off cold. The high temperature yesterday was 55 and today might get up to the low 60's. Harold has continued to feed the birds scrambled eggs - the birds look pitiful sitting on their porches with their wings all droopy and cold looking. Harold is working on the nest cam - the camera is installed but acting flaky and the web server's hard drive failed.

May 4, 2009   
We found a dead male martin on the ground this morning - so we checked all of the houses. We had two more dead from the rain and cold. In total we have 43 nests and 69 eggs. I don't have much faith in many of these eggs hatching. The birds are having to concentrate on getting enough food - not sitting on eggs.

May 12, 2009   
We finally had a break in the weather and it was pleasant enough to do a nest check - other than 20 mph winds. When I went out, I found two dead martins on the ground ... not good. Sure enough, I found two more dead birds - both in gourds. The birds have stopped laying eggs. Some of the eggs were warm, but most seemed to be cold. I was unable to check the T24. The wood is swollen because of all the rain and is stuck at the top of the pole. Harold will have to help pull it down. I looked at our statistics from last year. We did a nest check on May 11, 2008 and had 61 nests, 245 eggs and 9 hatchlings. It doesn't feel like we've even really started this year's martin season yet.

May 17, 2009   
We have babies!!! I decided to do a nest check - even though the T24 is still stuck. Not counting the T24, we have 31 nests, 47 eggs and 5 young.

May 19, 2009   
The T24 is still stuck. We have 31 nests, 38 eggs and 8 young.

May 23, 2009   
The T24 finally dried out enough today to be lowered. Harold had to pull down just a little on the houses to get them going. He took off one side of the house sections so he could loosen the hazer. We found two dead martins - they had been there a while - ewww. We now have 57 nests, 43 eggs and 32 young.

May 25, 2009   
The T24 is still sticking a little - it didn't want to come down. Now the T14 is also tight coming down. As of today's nest check we have 60 nests, 78 eggs and 34 young. In one of the rooms where we found a dead martin during the last nest check, a female had layed two eggs - there was not one twig of nesting material in the box. We put a handful of grass in it. Weird.

May 29, 2009   
We added no new young during today's nest check, but added a lot of eggs. 60 nests, 155 eggs and 34 young. The room that had two eggs and no nesting material from the nest check on the 25th now has a fully built nest, but no eggs. Hopefully the female finds a mate even though its late in the season.

Jun 7, 2009   
We are at our max - 220 eggs and 46 young for a total of 266. I'm hoping for 250 babies to fledge, but that probably isn't realistic.

Jun 14, 2009   
We had our first babies fledge. We are at 95 eggs, 153 young and 4 fledged.

Jun 20, 2009   
Our Martin season is finally settling down. No new eggs have been layed. At this point, we don't want any additional eggs. It will be too hot for the babies to survive. We have 27 eggs, 185 young and 30 fledged.

Jun 24, 2009   
Snake!!! I got a surprise today while checking the nests. There was a snake in the T-24 - in a room that the young had already fledged. Harold took care of the snake, but it had gotten one of the young. This is the first time we've had a snake get to the houses. Normally we put up netting below the houses, but hadn't gotten around to it this year. We definately had the netting up within the hour. We have 8 eggs, 191 young and 39 fledged.

Jun 28, 2009   
June has turned out to be a pretty good month. It started off on the cool side but has turned into a very pleasant month. As of today we have 1 egg, 200 young and 33 fledged.

Juy 3, 2009   
Its been hot the past couple of days - over 100 degrees. We have chances for rain over the July 4th holiday. Hopefully it cools down - the baby martins will start bailing out of their nests before they are ready in this heat. We have 182 young and 44 fledged.

Jul 9, 2009   
The heat is back - today is 105 degrees. We've had a few young try to fly before they are ready. When I get home from work each day, I walk around the yard and pick up the little ones and put them in a box in the shop. We're feeding them scrambled eggs. Current stats: 124 young and 94 fledged.

Jul 17, 2009   
We should probably do a nest check, but don't want to disturb the remaining young in the nests. The weather finally broke - we had 9 days of 100+ degree weather - mostly 106/107 degrees. We had SO many babies jump out of the houses. At one point, we had 19 babies in 2 boxes in the shop. A couple didn't make it; a couple escaped; and I've let a couple go. The two that I let go were able to fly, but there is no guarentee that they make it. I think it is better than leaving them outside. One day we had three dead martins in the backyard that had died from the heat.

Jul 18, 2009   
We did a nest check today. There are still 8 young in the houses. Only one room has not fledged (3 babies) - their fledge date is July 22nd. We found one dead young - I really thought there would be more. Current stats: 8 young, 210 fledged. I'm not sure how to count the ones we have in the shop - 13 more young. They may or may not be included in the fledged count. We let one more go today.