Blog history - 2011

Feb 21, 2011   
The past week has been unseasonably warm - getting up in the 70's. We knew that it was just a matter of time before we saw a purple martin. Sure enough - we saw one last night (Feb 20th). A female purple martin joined him this morning. We had planned on putting up one of the wood houses for them (currently just a metal house is up), but we ran out of time this past weekend. So - instead of putting up a house in balmy 70 degree weather, we put it up today - 50 degrees and a cold north wind. The season has started off as usual ... the birds are showing up sooner than we want and we're out working in the cold.

Mar 9, 2011   
Harold put up the remainder of the bird houses. We've blocked the rooms on the north side until the starling problems have been taken care of. We can't see them on the north side of the houses. 62 cavities are available - with 50 rooms open.

Apr 15, 2011   
We had excitement today. The winds were blowing around 50 mph with grass fires west and north of town. Harold and I came home early from work and prepared to evacuate. Luckily the wind shifted slightly to the south and we didn't have to leave. The fire came within 1.5 miles of our house.

Apr 18, 2011   
We have lots of birds so we did our first nest check today. We have eggs!! We have 5 eggs - the first egg was laid on the 16th. Also, there are 28 nests. We found one dead female martin and one dead starling in the T24. Its possible the martin had been attacked by a starling. Harold tried to fire up the video server to get the nest cam on line. It has a drive failure. I think we had this problem last year.

Apr 21, 2011   
Nest check: 34 nests; 10 eggs. Saw our first sub-adult male today. Opened up the remaining cavities.

Apr 30, 2011   
We should have done a nest check before now - they should be done around every 4 days but its been windy. When it gets too windy, the nest material blows out of the houses during a nest check. 44 nests; 29 eggs. We had less than a half inch of rain in April - we should have had closer to 3 inches. The ground is cracked; the grass is yellow and crunchy. Hopefully the martins are able to find enough insects.

May 1, 2011   
Its cold and rainy (a measly 3/10 of an inch). The martins don't look happy. Its supposed to be cold again tomorrow so Harold fed them a couple of eggs. We can tell that the same birds return every year. Harold steps out on the deck and the birds start circling over him.

May 6, 2011   
I don't think the wind is ever going to quit. We went ahead and did a nest check even though it was windier than we would have liked. Its a good thing - we have baby martins!! 56 nests, 37 eggs, 5 young.

May 9, 2011   
I had planned on doing a nest check today, but its 93 degrees with a 20-30mph wind. Its like living in a blow dryer. Its not as bad as yesterday ... 107 degrees on Mother's Day.

May 12, 2011   
We finally got to do a nest check today. We had a couple of windy and/or rainy days. I was so excited that we got some rain ... but then it ended up only being 1/10th of an inch. The martins are starting to kick in with laying egss: 61 nests, 71 eggs; 10 young. We removed one egg that had been pecked by sparrows.

May 15, 2011   
61 nests; 135 eggs; 25 young; Everything looked okay.

May 20, 2011   
We got some decent rain yesterday - nearly 4 inches. 62 nests (full up); 238 eggs; 25 young

May 26, 2011   
62 nests; 244 eggs; 40 young; .

May 31, 2011   
I'm doing a nest check everyday that the wind dies down - about once a week. 62 nests; 181 eggs; 105 young; Looks like we've hit our max this year - a total of 286.

Jun 5, 2011   
The first babies have fledged. 69 eggs; 207 young; 9 fledged

Jun 11, 2011   
20 eggs; 241 young; 15 fledged; Its been hot and windy ... and its only going to get worse.

Jun 15, 2011   
6 eggs; 237 young; 26 fledged; Today was the only "cool and calm" day of the week - 99 degrees. The baby birds are starting to bail out of the rooms. We put 4 back in one of the rooms but within 10 minutes, the parents had kicked one of the birds back out - it must not have belonged to that room.

Jun 21, 2011   
187 young; 40 fledged; Its been miserably hot - it got up to 109 degrees since the last nest check. A lot of birds are on the ground - its been so windy that fledglings couldn't get back into the bird houses. We've had quite a few baby birds not make it - the neighbor's cat has been prowling around at night and finding young ones that can't fly. I also think the purple martins are discarding some of their young. During today's nest check we had a lot of babies missing that were too young to jump out of the nest. We have 40 babies less this week than last - its not going to be a good season..

Jun 29, 2011   
We found out it wasn't neccesarily the neighbor's cat getting the birds. We had another batch of birds on the ground go missing during the night. Not one feather was left. We thought that maybe it was owls so we started gathering all the birds on the ground and putting them in the shop at night. About the time that we went out on that first night to gather the birds, so did the skunk. There is a skunk who probably has babies of its own living under the shed out by the lagoon. Not exactly close, but still too close for my comfort knowing there is a skunk on our 5 acres. Doing a nest check at this point seems rather pointless. There are so many babies on the ground that aren't going to make it, and so many missing from rooms that we won't be able to get a realistic count for this year. 44 young, 150 fledglings and another 30 birds unaccounted for..

Jul 4, 2011   
We are still gathering fledglings up each night and putting them in the shop. Some of them can fly - they just don't return to the bird houses at night. I don't know if they will end up making it or not. A bunch are not making it due to the heat, no food or water. We are leaving bowls of water on the back porch for the babies, but they don't all drink. We have at least a couple of dead babies everyday - I discarded 4 dead this morning before 10am. It is scheduled to be 100+ degrees today. We are on our 12th straight day of 100+ degree temperatures. Depressing..

Jul 07, 2011   
I did a nest check today. We have two young left - they probably won't make it. I could hear a clicking noise everytime one of them took a breath. I also found two dead young in the houses. 2 young, 192 fledged.

Jul 10, 2011   
All of the birds on the ground are gone. We had gotten down to two. We got home late Sat. night and both were dead - looks like a cat got them.

Jul 15, 2011   
I did a final nest check today. It was the last fledge date for the 2 left in the houses. The didn't make it. Our final totals for the year are 313 eggs, 272 hatched and 192 fledged. This is our worse year ever. We still haven't had any rain and it hasn't been under 100 degrees since Jun 23rd. It looks like we are going to rival 1980 for the hottest summer ever..