Purple Martins are Back!

Purple Martin Pair

Purple Martin Pair

Look who just flew in from Brazil – a pair of purple martins ready to start the nesting season! The male is in the gourd on the left, the female is sitting on the gourd on the right, and a plastic decoy sits on top. Spring is on its way!  Current purple martin sightings are tallied at:  http://purplemartin.org/scoutreport/

Purple Martin Nesting Season 2021

Male Purple Martin Sitting on Eggs
Five Eggs in Nest Lined with Green Pepper Tree Leaves

We’ve had a great year for purple martins! Nesting season is now coming to an end, with only a couple of nests remaining with babies. Here in Florida the season starts in January and ends in June. The total colony count this year was 176 birds including 28 nests (56 adults) containing 120 babies. Very soon the flock will leave, gather with others into roosts, and then migrate back to South America for the rest of the year.

Purple martins are so nice and cheery to have around. We miss them when they are gone!

This 4 1/2 minute video includes camera footage taken from inside one of the nesting gourds. We had never realized that purple martins collect green pepper tree leaves for the nest to act as a natural insect repellent. I have no idea how such tiny babies eat such big dragonflies!

Purple Martin Babies!

Purple Martin Nesting Gourds

Martins Collecting Pine Needles for Nest

Bird’s Eye View from Inside Gourd

 

Five Eggs in Nest

Newly Hatched Babies (Pinkies)

Growing Purple Martin Babies

Older Babies with Pinfeathers

Parents Bring Bugs to Growing Babies

Babies Waiting to be Fed

Hungry Baby with Mouth Wide Open

Rainbow Over Purple Martin Gourds

We have so many purple martin babies!  Did a backyard count here in Florida and the grand total for our nesting colony is 201 purple martins (107 babies, 22 eggs, and 72 adults).  Ages range from eggs to newborn pinkies to older babies with pinfeathers.  Love this time of year!  Learn more from the Purple Martin Conservation Association at:  https://www.purplemartin.org/

UPDATE May 16, 2020:  Lots of babies fledging this week!  Constant activity at the nesting gourds – great time of year!

Purple Martin Babies!

Purple Martin Nest with 7 Eggs in Green Leaf Cup

Newly Hatched Baby Martin “Pinkies”

Baby Martin ‘s Eyes Still Closed

Baby Martins with Feathers

Baby Martins Being Fed in Gourd

Martin Swooping in to Feed Baby

Martin Putting Grasshopper in Baby’s Mouth

Baby Martins Ready to Fledge

Rescued Baby Martin that Left Nest Too Soon (all’s well)

Sunrise over the Martin Gourds

Recently we did a count of babies and eggs in the purple martin gourds – the total was 135!!!  Wow!!!  The exact numbers are 103 babies, 32 eggs, plus 56 adults.  That is a grand total of 191 birds.  We have one or two more nests still coming along, so the total number of martins could easily top 200.  The birds are all different sizes and ages, with the first babies fledging today.  We love hearing them chirping and singing – so cheery!  Learn more about martins at:  https://www.purplemartin.org/

Purple Martin Nesting Time!

Purple Martin Gourd Rack by Pond

Five Eggs in Nest

Ten Eggs in Nest!

Six Newly Hatched Martins Hugging Egg

Five Newly Hatched Martins

Bird’s Eye View of Babies in Nest

Babies are Hungry!

Older Hatchlings Darken as Feathers Grow In

Our purple martins are nesting now.  So many birds – it is the best year ever!!!  Purple martins are here in Florida from about January to July, and spend the rest of the year in Brazil.  Current totals are 20 nests containing 63 babies, 50 eggs, and 42 adult birds (one pair is on the verge of laying eggs) — grand total 155!  Wow!  Many of the babies are in the process of hatching, and a couple of nests contain older nestlings.  The tiniest babies are called pinkies, for obvious reasons.  One stumper is the nest containing 10 eggs; normal is 4-6.  We don’t know if it is a re-nesting attempt after the first eggs didn’t hatch, or another bird laid in there too.  Love this time of year!  More info is at:  https://www.purplemartin.org/

Purple Martin Babies!

Purple Martin Babies #1

Purple Martin Babies #2

Purple Martin Babies #3

Purple Martin Babies #4

Purple martin babies are hatching here in Florida!  We have 23 active nests in 24 gourds.  Definitely putting up a new rack next year.  Our totals are 43 eggs, 64 babies, and 46 adults, for a grand total of 153 purple martins!  You can watch our live cam video clip of the tiny babies being fed at:  https://ring.com/share/3017928363  The top two pictures show the youngest birds, and the bottom two pictures show slightly older hatchlings.  Notice how the older birds have more defined eyes and pinfeathers starting to grow in.  The youngest birds are affectionately called “pinkies” by purple martin landlords.

Purple Martin Eggs!

Peeking in Round Gourd Entrance at 6 Eggs

Another Nest with 6 Eggs

A Record 7 Eggs in Nest!

Another Nest with 7 Eggs!

Lots of Activity at Purple Martin Nesting Gourds

Just in time for Easter, we have plenty of eggs in the purple martin nesting gourds with even more to come!  We did a nest check today and counted 70 eggs in 12 nests.  This promises to be our best nesting season yet!  You can learn more about purple martins and how to set up your own site at:  https://www.purplemartin.org/  

 

Purple Martin Nests and Babies!

Adult Male Purple Martin Looking Out Nesting Gourd Entrance Hole (note iridescent purple feathers)

Adult Male Purple Martin Looking Out Nesting Gourd Entrance Hole (note iridescent purple feathers)

Hungry Babies

Hungry Babies

Baby Ready to be Fed - Still Partially in Shell!

Baby Ready to be Fed – Still Partially in Shell!

Hatchling Hug

Hatchling Hug

Looking through Gourd’s Entrance Hole (love the “lips”)

Looking through Gourd’s Entrance Hole (love the “lips”)

Leaf-Lined Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf-Lined Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf and Bark-Lined Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf and Bark-Lined Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf and Cedar Chip Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf and Cedar Chip Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Cedar Chip Nest Containing 3 Eggs (probably a first-time nester)

Cedar Chip Nest Containing 3 Eggs (probably a first-time nester)

Frog on Nesting Gourd

Frog on Nesting Gourd

Silhouette of Purple Martin Gourd Rack and Sky:  All Tucked-In for Night (click to enlarge for details)

Silhouette of Purple Martin Gourd Rack and Sky: All Tucked-In for Night (click to enlarge for details)

Last weekend we did a nest check of our two purple martin gourd racks.  So far we have a total of 11 nests containing 49 babies and eggs!  There are also 4 more early nests that may or may not progress on to eggs within the next 2 weeks.  One nest contained a baby that wriggled out of its egg as we watched.  The baby even opened its mouth to be fed while it was still partially in the shell!  The birds seem to have their own individual nest styles. Some martin parents gather lots of leaves, some add hard red bark to the nest, and others simply lay eggs on the cedar chips provided as a base.  Each nest usually contains 3-6 eggs.  Love this time of year!  If you would like to host your own purple martins, more info is at:  https://www.purplemartin.org/education/75/getting-started/.

Purple Martin Babies are Fledging!

Female Martin and Babies Wanting Fed

Female Martin and Babies Wanting Fed

Martin Activity at Nesting Gourds

Martin Activity at Nesting Gourds

Martin Activity Above Gourd Rack (new fledgling is on lower left)

Martin Activity Above Gourd Rack (new fledgling is on lower left)

Martin Babies Grow Fast

Martin Babies Grow Fast

Two of Three Eggs Have Just Hatched in Late Nest

Two of Three Eggs Have Just Hatched in Late Nest

Martin on Gourd Rack with Dragonfly for Babies

Martin on Gourd Rack with Dragonfly for Babies

Closeup of Martin with Green Darner Dragonfly

Closeup of Martin with Green Darner Dragonfly

Our purple martin babies have grown so fast! Many are fledging and taking their first flights this weekend. This year our count is 57 babies and 22 adults for a total of 79 birds. What a joy to see them do so well!

Purple Martin Babies are Hatching!

Three Purple Martin Eggs in Nesting Gourd

Three Purple Martin Eggs in Nesting Gourd

Six New Hatchlings

Six New Hatchlings

Close-up of Hatchlings (love the bird lips!)

Close-up of Hatchlings (love the bird lips!)

Six Babies in Leaf-Lined Nest

Six Babies in Leaf-Lined Nest

Six Hatchlings Starting to get Pin Feathers

Six Hatchlings Starting to get Pin Feathers

Hatchling Face

Hatchling Face

Hatchling Wanting Fed

Hatchling Wanting Fed

Adult Male Purple Martin on Top of Nesting Gourd

Adult Male Purple Martin on Top of Nesting Gourd

Adult Female Martin Diving into Gourd

Adult Female Martin Diving into Gourd

Frog Hiding in Martin Pole Pulley Rope

Frog Hiding in Martin Pole Pulley Rope

Our purple martin babies are hatching! We currently have 11 nests containing 54 babies and 3 eggs – our highest season total ever! It is such a joy hearing the martins’ cheerful songs, along with constant feeding activity in and out of the gourds. The hatchlings are so young that they haven’t even opened their eyes yet. A frog was hiding in the martin pole pulley rope when we lowered the gourds for inspection. If the babies have mites, we change the nesting material for good health. Love this time of year!  Our previous posts about purple martins are at:  https://naturetime.wordpress.com/?s=martins

Purple Martin Update

Purple Martin Update, Winter 2015, Back Cover

Purple Martin Update, Winter 2015, Back Cover

Purple Martin Update, Winter 2015, Front Cover

Purple Martin Update, Winter 2015, Front Cover

We are pleased to see the Winter 2015 issue of Purple Martin Update magazine has our sunrise photo on the back cover!  It shows our nesting gourd rack silhouetted against a dramatic pink sky (taken in mid-December 2014).  The front cover of the magazine shows a purple martin with a geolocator tag.  The miniature tag allows scientists to track the birds to their migratory home in Brazil, and thus help with conservation.  The first purple martins arrived in our yard for nesting season on February 3. Now the purple martins are going in and out of the gourds and singing all the time.  Spring has arrived here in Florida!  If you would like to host martins, more info is at:  http://www.purplemartin.org/

Purple Martin Babies are Hatching!

Purple Martins Resting Above Nesting Gourd Rack

Purple Martins Resting Above Nesting Gourd Rack

Five Purple Martin Eggs in Leaf-Lined Nest

Five Purple Martin Eggs in Leaf-Lined Nest

Newly Hatched Purple Martin Babies

Newly Hatched Purple Martin Babies

Purple Martin Baby's Face (eyes still closed)

Purple Martin Baby’s Face (eyes still closed)

Purple Martin Baby - Side View

Purple Martin Baby – Side View

Purple Martin Babies Sleep Huddled Together for Warmth

Purple Martin Babies Sleep Huddled Together for Warmth

Our first purple martin babies of spring are hatching!  We currently have 6 nests with a total of 20 babies and 9 eggs, and more on the way.  Our martins returned to Florida for nesting season on January 28. These large swallows spend half the year in North America, and the other half in Brazil.   East of the Rockies, they are the only bird species dependent on people to provide nesting sites.  As far back as the 1700s, Native Americans put up natural nesting gourds for the martins to use.  The partnership was of mutual benefit, so it has continued over generations.  Now the birds prefer to nest in backyards in human-supplied housing.  They don’t mind nest checks by purple martin “landlords”, who keep a close eye on the birds for problems.  Just about everyone who has hosted purple martins misses them when they migrate back to Brazil – they are such cheerful birds to have around.   If you might like to host martins yourself, more info is at:  http://www.purplemartin.org/  Other posts about our purple martins are at:  https://naturetime.wordpress.com/?s=martins 

 

Purple Martin Babies Fledging Today!

Purple Martin with Dragonfly for Babies

Purple Martin with Dragonfly for Babies

Hungry Purple Martin Babies

Hungry Purple Martin Babies

Purple martin babies are fledging today! The babies are still hanging around the nesting site, and the parents are still feeding them. The parents constantly bring all kinds of bugs to those hungry mouths. You can’t miss it when the babies fly out for the first time – the martins all sing together loudly!  Some of the babies will still be in the gourds for another couple of weeks. I am going to miss them when they fly back to Brazil for half the year!

UPDATE JULY 2018:  A recent article in the journal “The Science of Nature” says that birds eat between 450-550 million tons of insects each year!

Purple Martin Babies!

Hungry Purple Martin Babies

Hungry Purple Martin Babies

Purple Martin Nest with 5 Eggs

Purple Martin Nest with 5 Eggs

Purple Martin Babies with 1 Egg Hatching

Purple Martin Babies with 1 Egg Hatching

Nest of Newly Hatched Purple Martins

Nest of Newly Hatched Purple Martins

Nesting time is here for our purple martins. Nests are being built, eggs are being laid, and babies are hatching! As of today we have 7 active nests with 10 tiny babies and 28 eggs. So fun!

Purple Martin Babies are Hungry!

Baby Purple Martin Face

Purple Martin Swooping in to Feed Baby

Purple Martin Bringing Babies a Grasshopper

Purple Martin Bringing Babies a Dragonfly

The purple martin babies are growing fast!  They are hungry all the time, so the parents are constantly bringing them a variety of insects to eat.  I can always tell when the babies make their first flight, because all of the purple martins chatter loudly to “talk” about it!  So far the babies in three of the six nests have fledged.

Purple Martin Eggs and Newly Hatched Babies!

Purple Martin Nesting Gourds

Purple Martin Eggs in Nest

Purple Martin Newly Hatched Eggs

Purple Martin Babies a Few Days Old

Purple Martin Less Than 1 Week Old

It is so much fun to have purple martins nesting in our backyard again!  We put up 8 nesting gourds, and 6 of them are already filled with birds.  The martins are wonderful to have around – we enjoy hearing them sing, watching them feed their babies, and seeing them swoop over the yard eating bugs.  Our current purple martin count is:  12 adults, 10 eggs, and 17 babies!  More info on being a purple martin landlord is at:  http://purplemartin.org/

Screech Owl Family in Nesting Gourd

Screech Owl Baby in Nesting Gourd

Screech Owl Baby in Nesting Gourd

Mama Screech Owl in Gourd

Mama Screech Owl and Moon

In 2004 a pair of screech owls raised two babies in a nesting gourd in our backyard in Malabar, Florida.  Although the gourds were meant to house purple martins, we thoroughly enjoyed watching the owl family.  The young babies had beautiful blue eyes! 

%d bloggers like this: