This morning (March 20) I heard a lot more singing going on outside. I was delighted to count 14 Martins on my Gourd rack. YEAH!!
Sadly, my Apartment Rack in the front of our house still has no Martins for three years now.
We had a very large Rat Snake climb over the baffle and get all the babies. I was very upset about it. Since then, I use the netting system to prevent any snake from getting to the birds. The bad thing is that it will kill the snake either on its own or you have to do it, so it does not suffer. I hate doing it, but it is the only thing that keeps the gourd rack safe from the snakes here. All life is important to me. But it’s twenty babies or one snake.
I cannot understand why I still do not have Martins in the apartment now. I have cleaned it several times, added new bedding, everything I can think of. Prior to the snake, it was occupied every year. It has twenty-six apartments. A mystery.
But we have 14 Martins to look at and listen to their beautiful songs. I am hoping more will arrive.
This past Monday (February 21st) the first purple martin called out as he was flying oner me. What a glorious sound that is to a martin fan!! I recognized it instantly and started to scan the skies for my friend. He circled around my gourd house as they do when coming down to land. Yes, he landed on the top perch and checked it out.
I have been watching and waiting for their return. Weather has a huge impact on their arrival time. Cold and wet can kill them in about five days. They must have live flying insects to eat. So, no bugs, no food. As is usual, we are expecting cold and wet weather for the next several days.
Do I worry? Of course, I do. I just have to wait and know that they will likely be OK since the weather is scheduled to clear up shortly.
I have not seen them this morning, they are probably in the woods or searching for food somewhere.
This is just the meet and greet they do when finding a mate for this year. Nesting will happen for a month or more. How appropriate that it’s close to Valentines’ Day.
So now I wait and watch to see if my colony will grow and prosper in 2022.
Finally, the mesmerizing martin song will be heard again.
Believe it or not, the first Purple Martins have already landed in Florida as of December 27, 12021! Wow, that’s pretty early. Whether that is good or bad, I couldn’t tell you.
But, if you are a Martin landlord you need to get your housing in shape and ready. Here are my guidelines:
Do not open any apartments or gourds yet. Block them off or other bird species will go in, and the Martins will be left out in the cold.
The housing should be clean, with extra pine needles in them (if you do that).
Be ready to raise the housing up as soon as you hear a Martin or February 1, just to be safe.
You never open all the entrances at once, just a few at a time.
The Martins here in Milam County have historically arrived around Valentine’s Day. Last year I did not have any till March, however. So, as the earth’s weather changes, wildlife changes also.
I opened my apartment house today to see if it was still clean like I had left it last summer when I closed it for the year. I had taped over the entrance holes for the first time to see if it would keep out the spiders, lady-bugs and wasps.
It worked pretty good, but there were still lots of spiders near all the corners. The spider webs are difficult to remove. Here’s a tip that I use to get them out easy and fast:
Get a stick and twirl the web around it. They come out fast. Then, pitch the stick.
Secondly, I use a wet/dry vac to get anything else out that might be in there. I wipe out anything nasty with a damp paper towel or sponge and let everything dry for a day or so. You need the apartments to be dry. I will do that later and take photos of it. For now it is so much easier to prep your houses while it’s not cold outside. Much better on your hands.
So, we have a little time until our Purple Martins return, February 2022 to be exact.
If you prepare now, you won’t have to go out when it’s cold to build something. As my friends know, I do not like cold weather. That means that now is good time to brush up on things we might encounter when the Martins are here.
A question I get often is, what do I do when a baby is on the ground? First of all, it’s not a good thing for sure. But it happens.
I am only going to address this situation if the nestling is in good health but is not old enough to fly on its own. Sometimes they fall out, and sometimes they are knocked out by first-year Martins (teenagers) who like to get into mischief.
This happened to me last year and I was successful in helping the baby fledge (fly on its own).
I put together a makeshift emergency house for it, so the parents could feed it. It just needed a few more days until it could fly. I was not sure it would work, but I gave it a try, since staying on the ground is bad.
I had a feeder a friend made for me, and I added some cedar scraps I had to keep the wind out and protect it. I added some pine needles and a little nest in the corner and put it near the Gourd Rack up on a shepherd’s hook.
I watched for several hours, and nothing happened. Just as I was getting depressed thinking the baby was doomed, one of the parents brought it a bug. YES!!! Some success.
The parents only came once a day, but it was enough to save the baby. It was hungry and after the third day it jumped out and flew.
I was so happy. So, you see that sometimes you can help a little bit and life goes on.