Purple Martin House – 2017
April 19 - The house is installed
June 9 - Four Purple Martins arrive, finally
June 21 - Five eggs in one nest, earliest hatching day July 6
July 6 - Two of the five eggs have hatched
July 7 - Four of the five eggs have hatched
July 16 - The winch to lower the house is jammed
August 3 - Two fledglings are observed leaving the nest, two others may have fledged earlier
August 10 - The Martins have left the area
September 1 - The house is closed for the season
Throughout the season, a team of six monitors of the Friends visited the house 2-4 times every week. First, Tree Swallows and, later, European Starlings showed much interest in the house. Many visitors to the Biocore Prairie stopped by, interested in learning more about the Purple Martins. Signage explained the purpose of the house and set-up. Students interns in the Biocore program and the gardener in the adjacent community garden helped keep track of happenings at the house.
August 3 – THE PUMAS HAVE FLEDGED!!!!!
Janis Cooper observed the event and reports: "I went over this morning after the rainstorm and watched the house from around 11:30 am to 12:05 pm......... see below her story and the saga of the Cooper's hawk chase by Seth McGee and Chuck Henrikson.
The photo sequence shows how the little nestling on is first try is "gliding into space with the greatest of ease."
11:33 there was a parent sitting on top and a nestling with head and shoulders sticking out of the box. They were talking to each other a lot.
11:34 parent came with food, then flew away. The nestling sat at the entrance to the box with head and shoulders out of the box. Both parents flew around twittering madly and at 11:37 the nestling suddenly launched itself out of the box and flew away!! What? Wait! Happened way too fast!!
11:38 a second nestling took up position at the opening with head and shoulders out of the box. Oh boy! It sat there for 10 minutes while the parent(s) flew in with food and then they called and called to it as they flew around, and I waited with my camera, getting all cramped and shaky.
11:49 without warning the second nestling launched itself out of the box and flew away with the parents. Photos attached. They're not great but that's as good as it gets. WooHoo!
I stayed until around noon. Very quiet at the PUMA house. Saw a few barn swallows and chimney swifts fly over, a pair of bluebirds in the gardens. A single PUMA, maybe a fledgling, flew back over the prairie with quick flaps and long glides. It landed on the box at 12:03pm and sat there for a bit before leaving again. Didn't see any others after the second chick fledged.
A very exciting day! So we know there are at least 2 fledglings. I guess now we'll have to see if they hang around, if we can ID them, and try to determine if there are more than 2. Janis
August 2 – 1 day after earliest fledging date
Hi PUMA Watchers, reports Chuck Henrikson, "Janis and I (Chuck) checked the PUMA House on Tuesday, August 1st from 10:05 to 10:25am. We saw 4 maybe 5 PUMAs flying around. One was an adult male while the rest appeared to be subadults. According to the PUMA Prognosticator this day was supposed to be the earliest day on which the nestlings would fledge. We did not see any nestlings fledge. On two occasions we saw a PUMA fly in with dragonflies, drop them off to nestlings and fly away with fecal sacs.
Seth and I (Chuck) checked the PUMA House on Wednesday, August 2nd from 10:35 to 11:35. When I arrived Seth had a video camera on the end of a long pole and was attempting to take a video of the nestlings through the hole of Apt. 5. He told me it may have been too dark inside to see much. He may have gotten something but I haven't heard.
Seth and I then watched the flying PUMAs and the nestlings for the next hour. At one time we saw 8 PUMAs flying around, one of which was an adult male. We did see PUMAs bring food (one winged insect and one worm) to feed the nestlings. We also saw one and sometimes two nestlings stick their heads out of the hole in Apt. 5 but neither emerged fully. The best we saw was about half out. Interestingly we saw Bumble Bees and even a Monarch Butterfly chase a PUMA now and then.
However the most interesting sighting was watching a Juvenile Cooper's Hawk initially land by the ladder, then move to perch in one apple tree and then move to another apple tree while the PUMAs were flying around calling and scolding fully aware of the hawk's presence. Finally the hawk took out after one of the PUMAs and came within a foot or two of capturing it while at the same time the other PUMAs were in hot pursuit of the hawk and chasing it away. What a sight! Standing with my mouth wide open I was so dumbfounded I forgot to pull out my camera to get a video of it.
In summary we have not seen any fledging of the nestlings on either August 1st or 2nd. It's still fun the watch the PUMA saga unfold.
Watch the attack of the juvenile Cooper's Hawk and how the PUMAs courageously defend themselves and chase the hawk away. The name of the martins derived from the Latin word "martius", meaning warlike. The native Americans used to keep colonies of Purple martins in gourds to help fend off hawks pursuing their chickens. Movie by Seth McGee.
July 29. Paul Noeldner visits the PUMA house and recorded the comings and goings at the house on a youtube movie for us. He reports: " On approaching the house from down the hill we waited for 5 minute intervals at several locations before reaching the house, and then did a staged retreat along the return path toward the pine trees to get a better look from that direction. At each stop we saw 4 PUMA either on the house or flying in the area, sometimes disappearing for several minutes but always returning after a brief period. Two of the adults were doing feeding activity at Box 5 similar to what Chuck reported last week. The 2 adults nesting in Box 5 were seen returning to the box on average every 4 or 5 minutes with a dragonfly or other food, so there were definitely hungry youngsters. July 29. Paul visits the PUMA house and shoots a short movie of the comings and goings at the martin house."
July 20. Monitoring report by Chuck Henrikson. Enjoy this minute by minute account.
Hi PUMA Watchers,
I visited the PUMA House today, Thursday, 20 July 2017, starting at 12:05pm and leaving at 1:10pm. The sky was mostly clear with only a few scattered clouds. The sun was shining brightly, there was a gent breeze from the west and the temperature was between 75 and 80 degrees.
12:05 – As I arrived I noticed one PUMA adult on top of the PUMA House preening. In a few minutes two more PUMAs arrived and also stood on the roof and preened. I did not attempt to bring down the house since it has been stuck in the up position for the past week or more.
12:15 – One PUMA went through the hole of Apt. 5 and went inside. I didn’t see if it carried anything in its beak.
12:20 – One PUMA with a possible bumble bee (I saw small clear wings and a fat body) flew to the house and went inside Apt. 5
12:25 – All four PUMAs flew in and perched on the outside of the house proving that all four are still around (see attached photo). There was a lot of chattering going on. I’m not sure what all the chattering was about but maybe my presence had stirred the conversation. They could have been protecting their territory with the nestlings inside the house. The PUMAs then all flew away. With my binoculars focused on the hole into Apt. 5 I could see the platform 2-3 inches. I don’t think the other end goes into the hole. It never moved the whole time I was there. It didn’t seem to inhibit any activities of the PUMAs.
12:35 – One of the adult PUMAs brought in some unknown food. They usually go right into the hole making it difficult to either see what they bring with my binoculars or to capture a photo of the food in their mouths/beaks. All the adults leave the house.
12:38 – Two adults arrived, both carrying large dragonflies. They drop off the food and fly away. Each time food is brought in I can hear the nestlings vocalizing. movement of the nestlings. They appeared to be mostly black (pigmented feathers developing) with a large, light tan slit for a mouth/beak. I could not count the nestlings. I assume there are still four live nestlings in the house but can’t be sure.
12:30 – One of the adult PUMAs brought some unknown food to the nestlings and left. By the way there is a small stick on the platform just outside the hole that projects beyond the lip about 2-3 inches.
12:40, 12:42, 12:43 & 12:45 – At each time one adult carried in a large dragonfly. The large clear, paired wings make it easy to identify the dragonfly food even without the binoculars. (see attached photo)
12:53 – An adult brought in some unknown food, stayed four minutes and left with a fecal sac. The adults are then gone for twelve minutes. Other birds in the area and flying similarly to the PUMAs include Barn Swallows, Tree Swallows and Cliff Swallows. Also easy to see are Dragonflies, Butterflies (primarily Monarchs) and Bumble Bees.
1:05 – An adult brought in unknown food.
1:07 – An adult brought in a dragonfly.
1:10 – I’m hot and all this food flying in for the nestlings has made me hungry so I leave.
It may be that all four adults are helping to feed the nestlings but I can’t be sure. I can’t distinguish one adult from another.
All seems to be going well, Chuck
July 16 - The winch for lowering and lifting the house is jammed. The team has decided not to disturb the martins during this crucial time. We are confident the nestlings re fed well and doing just fine.
A perfect place for Purple Martins
Photos by Mike Bailey.
One more PUMA baby on July 7
By noon July 7, four of the five eggs had hatched. The parents are guarding fiercely, and the nestlings are growing. Photos Chuck Henrikson.
PUMA babies have hatched! July 6, 2017
July 4. The parents stay close to the house, guarding the nest with the five eggs soon to hatch. Photos Gisela Kutzbach
1 July , 2017. The pair of Purple martins at the Biocore Prairie are busy taking care of their five eggs. Only a few more days and the first one should be ready to hatch. The monitors are visiting the house every few days and will let us know. In the meantime,
enjoy watching the live Purple Martin webcam of the Purple Martin Conservation Society. These eager nestlings started hatching on June 25, 12 days before the expected hatching date of those at the Biocore Prairie. We are over half way through incubation. We are hoping for hatching of these eggs by the next weekend.
On June 21, Chuck Henrikson discovered 5 beautiful Purple Martin eggs in Condo #5. There was a well formed nest in Condo #4, with leaves but no eggs yet. That is wonderful news, and puts the Preserve on the map for nesting Purple Martins. Janis Cooper, who monitored the house on June 16, did not find any eggs yet on that day. This means that the martin female started laying her eggs on June 17. Martins lay one egg each morning for several consecutive days. We will soon be able to calculate the tentative hatching and fledging days for these eggs, - hoping all goes well. Also see the Blog entry for June 23.
Also on June 23, Mark Nofsinger, a regular visitor to the Preserve, photographed the Purple Martin pair in condo #5. You can view his photographs at iNaturalist. This application of iNaturalist makes it possible for users to upload any nature photograph in the Preserve, including the GPS position. The observation will be verified by other users.
The Purple Martins have returned to the Preserve!!
On Friday June 9, Janis Cooper, one of the 6 Purple Martin monitors of the Friends, brought her new camera to the Preserve to try it out.
Little did she expect to shoot the first photographs of Purple Martins at the house that morning. After figuring out how to upload the photos, she realized these could be the birds we had been waiting for and she returned on Tuesday, June 13, to take more photos. The martins were perching at times in the fruit trees near the martin house. They also enjoyed the perching rods that Seth McGee had installed at each condo.
In a fast and furious exchange of emails, monitors quickly agreed that these were indeed martins, moving into apartments 4 and 5 of the house. Faculty advisor Anna Pidgeon shared in the excitement from the Denver airport.
Status of the Purple Martin Project on June 11, 2017
Thank you for contacting me about the Purple Martin house at the Biocore Prairie by the Friends of the Preserve. As you surely noticed, there are no Purple martins inhabiting the house as yet. We have been told that that it may take two years to attract them. We obviously missed out on the subadults returning north.
Since May 11, the time of first sightings of sub-adult martins in southern Wisconsin, 4-5 compartments of the Martin house, facing south and east, have been open; however, no Purple martin activity has been observed near the house. Several martins were seen near the tip of Picnic Point around May 24, first sightings in more than a decade, but obviously they were on migration further north. Our hope now is that during migration southward later in the year, young subadults will take note of the location of the house and possibly explore.
Activities around the house have included Tree swallows, one attempting to nest in the house, and most recently European starlings, building nests in open compartments, preferring the wooden nesting inserts. These nests have been removed. There was no House sparrow activity. A vigilant Red-winged blackbird regularly presided at the top of the house, possibly keeping away other birds. The plan is to keep several compartments open and continue monitoring until the end of August.
Monitors have been checking the house every 3-4 days. The mechanical system is working well, and all needed supplies, including a ladder and a bucket with pine straw, are secured at a nearby fence. Signage has been added, which explains the purpose and maintenance of the house. Playing the Purple martin dawn song on an mp3player was stopped because it attracted Tree swallows.Photos G. Kutzbach
The Purple Martin House was installed on April 19. Seth Mcgee and Paul Noeldner worked with much cheer and persistence to get the job done. Gisela Kutzbach took the photos.