I'm so happy to start reporting good news. although the nests are way behind the usual time schedule due to the bad weather a couple of weeks back, we finally have our first nest with eggs. Three eggs were seen in a gourd in Guilford at the Salt Meadow Sanctuary. One egg is laid every day so that means the first one was laid on Friday May 27th. Thanks to Deanna, one of our volunteers, we have a photo of them. Note the ever present green leaves...looks like I see half an acorn in there too for some reason.
A check of the purple martin apartments today showed good evidence of nesting. The martins seem to be making up for lost time. Many of you received individual emails from me with photos of your nest box. There is still time for more nests to begun, reports from other purple martin landlords in Ct are reporting rebounding after the tough spell a couple of weeks ago.
The martins are using some unusual nesting material this year...we provide the initial pine needles, but the martins are bringing in some longer pieces of tall grass. In addition they are bringing in the traditional green leaves, a sure sign eggs will be following soon!
The bird in the second to the last photo was sitting in the nest box when we lowered the house, since this is unusual behavior (unless she has eggs) we took her out to make sure she was ok, she was banded from a local colony in Guilford (yellow over white band signifies a particular colony)
We have been waiting for the weather to warm up for multiple days in a row, and waiting for the martins to have a chance to settle in at the colonies. We have driven by and done minimal checks on the birds, but today we went in earnest. We opened every compartment scraping out any of the previous nest material we had put in and replacing it with dry pine needles. While we were there the martins were happily chasing the flying insects and landed on the houses as soon as they were returned to their upright position.
Although we don't anticipate eggs in the nest until early June, they will start pairing up shortly. The National Purple Martin Conservation Society also reported the migration wave last night, and they say that there are more martins still coming up north, that is good news for all the colonies in the Northeast. Although we don't expect full recovery, our numbers maybe higher than we were thinking they'd be.
FYI It takes about 2 hours to do a complete nest check at both colonies at Hammo, plus the time to collect the pine needles, and that's with no chicks!
This has to be one of the most difficult time for purple martin landlords. The colonies all across Ct have taken a severe hit with this prolonged period of rain and cold. We have experienced the loss of 10 of our birds, unable to keep warm and unable to feed. To lose some many birds at the beginning of the season is devastating. Reports from other landlords are equally grim. This will impact the overall population in Ct. most likely for years. In anticipation of weather like this as you know we have been trying to train our martins to eat scrambled eggs, crickets and meal worms. We may have had some success for those that took to the alternate food, we have not actually seen them eat it.
The good news is the weather is supposed to break this afternoon and warm temps are coming. We will do everything we can to give you a successful purple martin experience, it may mean we need to switch apartment numbers as season proceeds. This is not the season we expected. Purple martin landlordships helped us purchase needed supplies for the birds and we thank you for being a part of that.
We anticipate good things happening this week!