Purple Martin house at the Biocore Prairie - 2020
July 30, 2020
Chuck Henrikson visited the PUMA house one day after fledging, not knowing yet about Richard's report of fledging on the day before. Enjoy Chuck's report:
"Oh what a surprise to me! I didn't know that Richard had found the gourds empty yesterday, Wednesday, July 29th, when I went to the PUMA house this morning, July 30. I arrived at the PUMA house at 8:00 am. Initially there were 9 subadult PUMAs at the house. At 8:15 an all dark purple, adult PUMA flew by but did not land on the house. It just flew by. It did return one more time later in the morning but again did not stay. At 8:25 I saw one head sticking out of the entrance to the gourd and at 8:30 there were 2 heads sticking out. The subadults brought dragonflies to the gourd and stuffed them into the mouths of the protruding heads.
At 8:50 I thought I witnessed the fledging of one of the nestlings as it crawled out of the gourd and flew off to the east followed by 5 subadults. At 9:05 I saw a second one crawl out through the entrance of the gourd and it flew to the east as well and was followed by 3 subadult PUMAs. One PUMA stayed at the house and kept looking inside the gourd as if looking for the third nestling. Nothing ever appeared. So I guess I never saw the original fledging. But it does mean that the fledges went back to the gourd and went inside at some point and stayed until I got there to fool me into thinking I saw the first moments of fledging. I wonder how often they will repeat using the gourd in the coming days." It takes a village to raise a family, among the PUMAs.
July 29, 2020
Richard Ness has the great news:
PUMAs have fledged!!
"Yesterday July 29, I checked on the house at 1:15pm to 1:50pm. When I arrived there were 3 PUMAs on the house and as I got near they flew off to join other’s flying in the area. It was hard to count them but I did see five flying together at one time. They never came back to the house, so I checked the gourds and they were empty.
Thanks to everyone who helped making this a great success this season."
July 27, 2020
The PUMA nestlings are still contemplating their big dive into thin air, seem contented to view the world from their high perch. Their audience for the event is growing. Early in the morning Chuck spotted 5 PUMs at the house and around 11:00am, Gisela Kutzbach watched 7 perching on the top bar.
Chuck Henrikson reports:
I arrived at the PUMA house at 7:50 am. There were 2 PUMAs perched on the top bar of the house. As an aside several different species of birds stopped by the house now and then. The most common species to perch for short visits were the House Finches. Other species were a Red-winged Blackbird, an American Robin, two Baltimore Orioles, a Song Sparrow and even a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. No House Sparrows or European Starling visited the PUMA house.
At 7:58 a third PUMA flew in carrying a dragonfly. The PUMA fed it to the nestling who had its head sticking out of the entrance to the northeast gourd nest box. The nestling took it inside the nest box to eat the dragonfly.
At 8:15, 8:18 and 8:32 a PUMA came with a dragonfly at each time and fed the open-mouthed nestling at the entrance. One of the PUMAs went inside the nest box and came out with a fecal sac and carried it away.
At 8:40 one nestling came out of the nest box about half way and spent several minutes looking around at its new environment. After living in the nest box for about three weeks the world outside must seem pretty big and frightening. It'll take some time to get used to it.
At 8:45 a fully mature, all dark purple (almost black) PUMA flew in and perched on the west end of the top rod. It did fly to the east end and perch next to a subadult PUMA. Subadults are the only PUMAs seen at the house so far this year to my knowledge so this was a special visit. I noticed that the wings of the adult PUMA extended all the way to the tip of the tail. The wings of the subadults end before the end of the tail. The adult PUMA stayed about 15 minutes and then flew away.
At 9:00 I heard the first chirps of the nestling whose head was sticking out of the nest box. One of the PUMAs perched above the nestling was chirping too. The two chirps sounded different so I could tell who was making which sound. They chirped back and forth for a couple minutes. I think one of my videos captured the exchange.
At a couple different times I could see two heads of nestlings at the entrance to the nest box. The farthest out any nestling came was about half its body length and then I could see its toes on the rim of the entrance hole. No nestling came all the way out.
Between 9:00 and 10:00 PUMAs brought dragonflies and other unidentifiable foods to the nestlings. The PUMAs seldom went inside the gourd but fed the open mouths at the entrance. One of my videos shows a PUMA stuffing a dragonfly into the mouth of a nestling.
At 10:00 and just over two hours of having a good time watching the PUMAs I left. None of the nestlings fledged today while I was there.
July 26th - the earliest fledging date
Chuck Henrikson is tracking the progress to this most exciting day in the young lives of the three nestlings. Their parents seem equally excited. Chuck reports: "The saga continues!
I was at the PUMA house at 8:10 am and left at 9:20. Three PUMAs were perched on the house when I arrived. At 8:20 there were 4 PUMAs perched on the house. The PUMAs were vocalizing a lot. Were they trying to encourage the nestlings to come out by vocalizing? At 8:35 two nestlings stuck their heads out of the gourd. One was farther out than the other. The one that was farther out kept looking around surveying its new environment. I thought they would leave the gourd nest box any moment but they didn't.
The PUMAs brought food (one time it was a dragonfly) and fed it only to the one or ones that had their heads out. Could they be using food to try to entice the nestlings to come out? At 8:55 am there were 5 PUMAs at the house. The fifth one flew off too quickly for me to capture a photo of all 5 at the house. We've seen 3 PUMAs most of the summer. Where did the fourth and fifth come from? The nestlings did go back inside the gourd and then stick their heads out again several times so it didn't look like they were quite ready to leave the gourd just yet. I was hoping to see the nestlings fledge while I watched but it did not happen. After standing for an hour and ten minutes in the heat I decided to leave. I probably will check the house tomorrow."
PUMA followers are hoping that Chuck will report on Monday.
The fledging day for the 3 PUMA nestlings is approaching. Chuck Henrikson goes out again to observe:
"I went to the PUMA house and stayed from 10:50 to 11:30. I saw one PUMA perch up near the decoy again. I saw a second PUMA enter the gourd nest box twice. The first time it stayed about 5 minutes and then finally left. The second time it went into the PUMA house dropped off food and then left carrying a fecal sack. This time I got the photo. There was much less activity this time compared with the Wednesday observations of the PUMAs. Obviously the nestlings had not yet fledged.
I plan to visit the PUMA house on Sunday morning.
Chuck Henrikson reports: "I went to the PUMA house at 10:15 am and left at 10:55 am. At first I saw one PUMA perched on the house. This one often perches over by the decoy PUMA. I have the sense that it is not a parent of the nestlings but the third PUMA who is a "good friend of the family" and who often acts as a guard when the parents are out looking for food. Of course I'm just making this up but I am trying to interpret what I'm seeing. Another PUMA, the second one, came in, went into the northeast gourd nest box where the three nestlings are, assumed it dropped off food and then left the gourd and flew away. A PUMA (same one or different one) went into the gourd nest box 7 times when I was there. One time I saw it carrying a dragonfly. got a photo of that one. Other times I could not see what it brought because the food was too small for me to see. One time when the PUMA left the gourd nest box it was carrying a fecal sac.
Later in the morning around noon I was on my way back to my car to leave when I saw that Richard Ness was at the PUMA house. I stopped and I decided to stay and photograph what he was doing. In addition I got a photo of the 3 nestlings inside the gourd. They looked well feathered out and healthy. I would think they would be ready to fledge soon. By the way there were no House Sparrows or any other birds at the PUMA house at either time I was there."
Chuck Henrikson reports: "I was at the PUMA house and gourds for about a half hour this morning. For the first 15 minutes there was just one PUMA perched on the house.
Several House Sparrows were flying in and around the house. They would land in various places on the house. It was the most House Sparrow activity I had ever seen at the house. They never went inside any of the compartments. I felt the one PUMA that was there was sort of on guard so that the House Sparrow would not go into the NE gourd to disturb the PUMA nestlings but maybe I was just imagining that.
After that first 15 minutes another PUMA flew in and the two talked, more imagination. Finally one came in and went inside the NE gourd. It evidently dropped off food for the nestlings and left. That one did the same thing four times. On the last trip I saw it carrying a large dragonfly. Before that PUMA went inside another PUMA came in with a bit of unknown food so I got a photo of both PUMAs with food at the entrance of the NE gourd. The PUMA with the dragonfly went in first while the other one waited patiently outside. After the dragonfly PUMA flew off the other PUMA with food went inside, dropped off its food and then flew off.
here was one short moment when all three PUMAs were at the house at the same time."
July 13, 2020
Richard Ness reports; "I checked on the PUMAs today 7/13/20 at noon and the nestlings look great. Getting bigger every day. Wish I could have gotten a photo of mom bringing a large dragonfly to the nestlings, but I got this shot of her coming out of the gourd. When I arrived there were four Martins at the house for a few minutes."
Compare how much the young martins have grown since they hatched on July 1, less than two weeks ago.The earliest fledging day would be on the 26th day. But depending on food availability and weather, fledging could be delayed until day 34-36. The many dragonflies in the Biocore prairie ensure a constant food supply. The parent PUMA simply stuffs the entire insect down the throat of the of the wide-open beaked nestling, with the tail end still hanging at first and then gradually disappearing inside the hungry baby bird.
July 6, 2020
Richard Ness and Gisela Kutzbach monitored the PUMA house. Even though only five days old, the PUMA nestlings have grown and show the beginning feather growth in the areas were the skin looks dark.They seem very comfortable in the roomy gourd. It appears that the parents removed the one egg that didn't hatch.
July 4, 2020
Chuck Henrikson reports; "As I approached I saw 2 PUMAs fly away from the PUMA house. They called as they left. I stood for a while and one PUMA came back, immediately went inside the northeast gourd presumably to drop off some food and then came out and flew off. I waited a bit longer and one came back, went inside and then appeared on the outside and perched awhile. It's mouth was open most of the time I assume because it was hot and it was trying to cool itself. It eventually flew away. I hope the nestlings are not too hot. I did not bring down the gourd to look at the nestlings inside."
July 2, 2020
Richard Ness reports: "On Monday, I checked and there was still four eggs but today Thursday July 2nd, we have three young martins and one egg. Hurrahhh!
The family looks in great shape."
June 30, 2020
Chuck Henrikson reports on his sightings at the PUMA house:
Tuesday, June 30. When I arrived all three were on the outside, then flew around the house a bit and flew away not to be seen again for 15 minutes and then I left.
Saturday, June 27. I saw 3 PUMAs. One went inside the NE Gourd. One went inside nest #7 of the house. The last one stayed on the outside but near the NE Gourd.
Sunday, June 21. I saw 3 PUMAs. One went inside the NE Gourd. The other 2 stayed outside the house and gourds but one was always by the NE gourd as if there was a pair at the NE gourd. The third PUMA seemed like it was alone and unpaired.
Saturday, June 20. I saw only 2 PUMAs. One PUMA was at the NE gourd and the other was at nest #2 of the house. Neither went inside.
June 18, 2020
Richard Ness reports: "I checked on the Martinis and we have four eggs!!
They are nesting in the gourd facing northeast. Yeahhh!"
Video of the PUMAs exploring the gourds. Enjoy their chattering and gurgling.
Movie by Chuck Henrikson June 6, 2020
June 6, 2020
Chuck Henrikson and Gisela Kutzbach met at the house to watch morning activities. The 3 martins were flying over the Biocore and also beyond, but after a few minutes always returned to the house. At one point a House Sparrow sat at the entrance of condo #5, but otherwise, the martins explored the entrances of both gourds and entered the gourd on the east side. Later David Liebl, on his daily - almost - bird survey hike through Bill's Woods stopped by to listen to the martins. Notice social distances.
June 5. Good news!!
Richard Ness reports: "Today (Friday June 5th) at lunch time I watched as three Martins were checking out one of the gourds. They were really trying to figure out how to get through the Starling proof door of the gourd. Which unfortunately is difficult for them until they learn how to do it. But, it shows that they are serious at looking for a nest site. They were around for 10 minutes and flew off and 10 minutes later were back again trying to get in the gourd."
May 23 Richard Ness installed two gourds that are now hanging below the house. Some martins may have been raised in a gourd and they would tend to prefer to use a gourd. Also sparrows don't like the swinging motion of gourds and avoid them.
End of April. Richard reports that House Sparrows did not attempt to nest again. We will wait for the Subadult Martins to arrive. The house is ready for them.
April 8. Chuck Henrikson reports "I birded the Preserve today and walked by the PUMA House just to check how many PUMAs had arrived (trying to be positive). To my disappointment no PUMAs had come but guess who is up to no good! Yup, the House Sparrows. I saw males going in and out of #3 and #6, photos attached. I didn't see them carrying nest material but males went in and out of each compartment several times. A female stood watch on a perch above #6."
April 3. Nest boxes are on the ready now
Chuck Henrikson reports: "I put pine needles in the four drawers I had left open earlier - 2,3,5 & 6."
PUMA House is open for occupancy, PUMAs only!!
March 31 – The PUMA house is opened for the season
Chuck Henrikson reports: "I went to the PUMA house brought it down and cleaned all the drawers and the house. I lubricated the wire. I closed all the openings by putting the drawers in backwards except 2 and 3 which face east and 5 and 6 which face south. The are open and ready to accept PUMAs. There is some residue from the tape that will need a solvent to remove it. I did not have any solvent with me. I also need pine needles. The open drawers are empty, without any pine needles".