Purple Martin House – 2018
June 15. Yesterday, 6/14, Chuck saw that one of my birding friends had seen 2 PUMAs in the UW Lakeshore Preserve. Today, 6/15, he decided to see if the observed PUMAs were at the PUMA House. On the way he met Gisela, who also came to monitor. They were both able to observe the following, as reported by Chuck:
"As we got near the house we could see PUMAs flying and calling near it. We saw a total of 4 PUMAs. We definitely saw 2 males and 1 female. We never determined what the other one’s sex was. The fourth PUMA did not stay around. The female was constantly bringing nesting material to the house and depositing it in Compartment #2 on the east side of the house. The nesting material appeared to be plant stems not pine needles. One (or both?) of the males brought nesting material and placed it in #2 also but not as often.
At one point a European Starling (EUST) came by the house with nesting material and put it in Compartment #13 (I think). #13 has a special restrictive (half-moon shaped) opening and is on the north side. I was standing on the southeast side so I didn’t have the best view. I did see the starling struggle to get out but really had little problem escaping. Gisela and I decided not to bring down the house since the PUMAs were in the process of building a nest and we did not want to disturb that process. The EUST never came back again. We watched the PUMAs from 10:55 to 11:55am or for one hour. Gisela and I tried to stand quietly and not too close. Our presence didn’t seem to bother the PUMAs. We left while the PUMAs were still working on their nest."
The same day, independently, Janis also came of the hill to check out the PUMA house. She reports:
"At 2:15 a starling perched on the top of the house, did not interact with the PUMAs or vice versa, and it left maybe 15 seconds later. At 2:20 the female flew down to #2 and went inside. Someone walked by under the house then and both birds flew away. While the PUMAs were away, a Starling carrying some grass landed on the house but simply dropped what it was carrying and flew away. No Starlings attempted to enter the house while I was there.At 2:40 I gave up and started to walk away down the hill but stopped when the PUMAs came back. Between then and 2:50 the female visited the house twice. The male landed either on top of the house or in the apple tree a couple of times too. I thought I saw a second male flying with this pair at one point but couldn't be sure."
June 11. Gisela watched the PUMA house for 30 minutes from 9:50-10:20 am. No martins were in sight. But a pair of Eastern Bluebirds actively explored the house, entering various apartments. Tree swallows flying by. She removed an old House sparrow nest from #7.
May 28. Chuck went by the PUMA house today at 8:30am and stayed for 20 minutes. He never saw a PUMA the entire time. Neither did he see European Starlings. There were a few Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows flying by as well as Song Sparrows and American Goldfinches. Not one bird landed on the house or even got close.
Chuck sent the photo of the new reduced openings into the compartments. They are shaped like half-moons. The reduced openings are on compartments 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 13. The rest of the compartments are closed with rubber stoppers.
Seth reports on the same day: "I observed the house Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. I didn't see a single bird on the house all week. Starlings go in and out of the fruit trees but I didn't see them investigate the house.. Early in the week there was a few sprigs of vegetation strewn in apartment #7. White campion and wild onion. Looked too messy to be martins but I left it for a day to see if anything would show up. Nothing did, so I removed it. No signs of visitors in the other boxes.The starlings seem to be thwarted. Now we just need the PUMAs to find us again. I'll be out there again next week"
May 24. Last week Paul and Gisela attached the specially made starling shields to the entrance holes of 7 compartments. With this deterrent in place, we now hope that martins will find possible to resume occupancy of the house. Later that day, Seth saw a Starlings occasionally land on the house but he didn't see any attempt to go in.
May 5. Chuck has added a perching bar to the roof of the house. Purple Martins are see but only fly by. As is so common with PUMA houses, European starlings are intensely interested in taking over. Our team is making efforts to keep them away.
April 21. Mike Bailey reports "that there were two Purple Martins at the house on the Biocore Prairie. This is a photo from some distance off. One of the dummy Purple Martins was above them, looking down. Later, when I was closer to the house, I couldn't see any activity, so this is the only photo I managed of them for now." Mike posted the sighting on eBird.
Chuck Henrikson had watched the house the day before for about 30 minutes at noon time and didn't observe any activity.
Pat Becker checked the house again on April 22, a sunny warm spring day and reports "there were two birds flying around, swooping down over the house. I wasn't able to gender or age them. There were droppings in several boxes. And - a big owl pellet on top of the house. Stoppers had fallen out of boxes 9, 10 and 11". What that by any chance the owl's deed?
in 2017 the Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve installed a purple martin house at the edge of the Biocore Prairie as a positive contribution to maintaining a robust population of purple martins in Wisconsin. Volunteers monitored the house closely, keeping compartments free of nests built by other species. By June, the structure had attracted four martins, two of whom nested and produced young. We were thrilled to report that the babies successfully fledged at the beginning of August. See summary in Preserve! and the 2017 webpage.
2018 Monitor Schedule
April 11 - The house is opened up