Question regarding heat and chicks ready to fledge

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Mike in NC
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:29 pm
Location: Graham/North Carolina

I know we've had several posts recently about the heat with some good ideas about how to help martins. We're expecting temps up to 103 or 104 through the weekend.

We have two gourds with chicks at around 24 days old. I want to help them through the heat, but I also don't want to disturb them and cause them to fledge early. Is there any danger to opening the gourds at this point and adding ice packs?
2008 - 0
2009 - 0
2010 - 0
2011 - 0
2012 - 3 Nesting Pair / 10 Fledged
2013 - 10 Nesting Pair and still going!
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

I wouldn't put ice packs in with the birds, not at this age - putting something in could make them jumpy. Can you rig some shade over the occupied gourds instead. If you feel your only option is to put something in with them, wrap it in a sock, and use plug & string to let them calm down afterwards, and try not to touch the nestlings.
Mike in NC
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:29 pm
Location: Graham/North Carolina

I guess adding shade may be my only option. These are individual gourds. One plastic super gourd with 2 chicks at 24 days, one natural gourd with 5 chicks at 24 days, and one natural gourd with 3 chicks at 15 days.

I'm not sure what you mean by plug & string. Are you saying to plug the entrance with a string attached so that I can pull the plug once the housing is raised back up? I could try that.

The hottest days are expected saturday and sunday so both my wife and I will be home and we'll have time to do what we can.

I just don't know which carries more risk: letting them deal with the heat or intervening to help and possibly disturbing them.
2008 - 0
2009 - 0
2010 - 0
2011 - 0
2012 - 3 Nesting Pair / 10 Fledged
2013 - 10 Nesting Pair and still going!
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

You might as well do what you can to shade them now. Put a plug into entrance before you start work, and when you are done, raise system, wait a few minutes to make sure babies are calm, then gently pull plug loose. A piece of foam pipe insulation or an old sock make good plugs. I think the shade would be good fix since then you hopefully won't need to try to add ice bottle daily or more often. You can use cardboard or shadecloth, even an umbrella if you can secure it well. Parents are going to freak a bit, but should get used to the shade. good luck, Mike.
Laura Dore
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue May 22, 2012 6:15 pm
Location: Pflugerville, TX

My husband and I put a large beach umbrella on top of a pole
yesterday evening along with a mister. The momma was
freaking out for about an hour, and then finally just disappeared.
So, we took it back down. But we never saw the momma return
and even watched until it got too dark to see. So I hope
we didn't chase her off. We DID leave the mister on a timer
To come on at noon for 4 hours since we both work. Just
hope the wind blows in the right direction. But do you think
it's possible that we scared the momma off with the umbrella?
It's a shame if we can't use it because it shaded the house
beautifully. My birds are still about a week and a half from
fledging if they survive this oppressive heat.
zoefluf
Posts: 586
Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:51 pm
Location: Bush, Louisiana

I, too, am worried about scaring off parents by putting up shade. Has anyone shaded individual gourds and do you have a picture?
"Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap, yet your heavenly Father feeds them."
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

this link shows photos with shaded gourds and houses, from site of Purple Martin Landlords of North Texas: http://www.purplemartinlandlordsofnorth ... dtips.html
Kathy in VA
Posts: 188
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2010 8:24 am
Location: Virginia/Scottsburg
Martin Colony History: It took me 11 years to get martins. It finally happened in 2010! Been going strong, ever since! I have a 12-gourd rack, full and overflowing!! I love this hobby!

Bill Pec shared a great shading idea here that I used at my colony last year...and resurrected last week! Plastic storage tub lids. I use plastic tubs to tote things but have lots of lids I never use. I did not have any Coroplast (corrugated plastic--election sign material) available at the time, although I found it does block more light. Just go out in early afternoon, lower the rack, and lay the lids or Coroplast (available at Lowe's near the mailbox numbers) over the gourds that have nestlings in them, and see what placement will block the most sunlight from the gourd--placing lids in straight lines and right angles looked nice but the shield didn’t block the angled sun rays on various gourds hanging on different sides of the rack--so on some of mine, the corner of the lid may stick out over the front of the gourd, instead of being in-line/parallel with the gourd. The locations of available attachment points underneath also make a difference in where lids can be placed, if lids are small.
I’d mark the spots where you need to drill holes to wrap wires or cable ties around the gourd hanging arms or owl guards, and then leave the rack to do your drilling of holes for several covers at one time—less noise and stress on the nestlings. If your tub lids have depressions in the middle, be sure to drill drainage holes at the low spots so they won’t hold rain water which would add weight (not fun if you have to lift housing with a rope/pulley) and collected water will dump out on you the next time you lower the gourd rack. The water dripping thru the lid holes will also have a cooling effect on the gourds, since the shields will also block the rain from hitting most of the gourd. If you use Coroplast, you can just punch holes thru it with an ice pick or utility knife and not even have to use a drill.

Here’s the link to Bill’s photos and mine, and some other people’s ideas that either did (or did not) work well for them:
http://www.purplemartin.org/forum/viewt ... 9d950477ff

And some other links on the subject:
http://purplemartin.org/forum/viewtopic ... bff70ca1e4

http://purplemartin.org/forum/viewtopic ... 01fc65c259

http://www.purplemartin.org/forum/viewt ... p?p=138074

Best wishes in beating the heat...
Kathy in VA
Laura Dore
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue May 22, 2012 6:15 pm
Location: Pflugerville, TX

Interesting. But I would think those would
be helpful when it's straight up noon. In
late afternoon when the sun is at its hottest,
I don't see how that could help much; unless
the birds are in the very top compartments.
The beach umbrella we tried was really ideal
because it can cock over to the side and help
avoid the late afternoon sun. May be a dumb
question, but can they see colors? Maybe
the brightness scared her? She really had enough
clearance to still get to the nest, but just
wouldn't. That's why we took it back down
after a couple of hours.
Kathy in VA
Posts: 188
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2010 8:24 am
Location: Virginia/Scottsburg
Martin Colony History: It took me 11 years to get martins. It finally happened in 2010! Been going strong, ever since! I have a 12-gourd rack, full and overflowing!! I love this hobby!

Mike Scully addressed the time of day/rays/temperature issue in the first link listed above. He said:
“Peak sunlight does occur about midday, warming the gourds above ambient.
However, peak TEMPERATURES usually occur anytime between 2-4:30 pm when the sunlight is getting less intense. I am told these peak afternoon temperatures occur because the ground by that time is warmed up and radiating heat back up from below.”

So I just took the midpoint between the two times and hoped perhaps I’d get the maximum benefit by measuring for shield placement in-between his two stated times of noon and 4:30---early afternoon. I’m just guessing though. But I haven’t had any jumpers from the heat yet, while other landlords in Virginia have---so I can’t help but think it must be helping. The way some of the shields ended up sticking way out over the front of the gourd helped to provide shade even when the rays came in from the side, later in the day. The top row of gourds helped shade the bottom row, but not enough.

One source I read said martins do have good color vision, but I don’t know for sure. I too was wondering if the brightness and flappiness of an umbrella would be more scary than something solid white, and rigid (no movement). I hope you can find something that will work for you.
Kathy in VA
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Martins and all birds can see color well - that's why flashy colors help the males attract mates.

We found shadecloth at home depot and lowes - it's a lightweight woven material, a bit rubbery feeling, and comes in big rolls in several colors. We got some in a light beige. It cuts with scissors and is easy to work with, it will block sunlight well and since it's fabric, it's flexible - you can stretch it over tops and walls of houses. For gourds, it would depend on your gourd arms and rack, but it might be possible to use it to shield above gourds and around the sides a bit too.

Sunshades can't block heat that comes up from the ground later in the day, but at least while sun is overhead, gourds and houses are cooler. Would you rather sit out in the sun, or on a shady, breezy porch?
Laura Dore
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue May 22, 2012 6:15 pm
Location: Pflugerville, TX

We actually have a roll of that stuff, but couldn't figure out how we could put it to use since there is nothing to tie it to. If we could figure something out, the martins will just fly up under it?
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