Two Nesting Questions

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msalcido
Posts: 254
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:25 pm
Location: Texas/Mineola

1. When is the best time of day to do the nest checks?

2. Is it necessary to replace nests during the season? I've seen something about 1/2 through the season some people replace the nests. If this is the case how and what do we replace with?

OK - I guess that's three questions :lol:

Greatly appreciate everyone's expertise and advice!
Mike

Fifth season of being a landlord! :) and a PMCA member!
rrmartins
Posts: 1421
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:04 am
Location: Round Rock, TX

Usually the best time is 12-4 if you can. I always wait till I see them all leave late morning and do mine. You never want to do it early morning or late evening when they are coming in.

I only replace my nest if I have bugs in the nest. Then I replace mine with pine needles, I think some use wood shavings. Good luck.
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Emil Pampell-Tx
Posts: 6743
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 1:26 pm
Location: Tx, Richmond (SW of Houston)
Martin Colony History: First started in Gretna, La in 1969 with a small homemade house, have had martins ever since at 2 different homes in Texas

Glad to answer your questions:

1) 2 to 4 PM, they usually are out feeding. In the morning, they are sitting on the nest and laying eggs

2)Replace the nests if they are real dirty, or if they have mites. It is not completely necessary to replace dirty nests, but its a good idea to do so to prevent disease. Some nests stay relatively clean, some get filthy

2b)replace the nesting material with nearly anything that you have that will not absorb moisture, probably the same that you used at the beginning

EDIT: rrmartins, we posted at the same time...thats ok...
PMCA Member, 250 gourds, 6 poles, 2traps
msalcido
Posts: 254
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:25 pm
Location: Texas/Mineola

Thanks Emil and RRMartin. Makes complete sense on the time, the reason I asked was because last weekend when I did one, there was a female in the nest and when I lowered the house, it scared her and me! :roll: it was about 5:30pm.

Also, make sense about replacing the nests; however the way they create them with the bowl and mud and stuff, I thought to myself "how the heck will I ever recreat that nest"? So good to know it's not necessary unless necessary! :wink:
Mike

Fifth season of being a landlord! :) and a PMCA member!
daveh
Posts: 653
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:40 am
Location: Kingsville Mo.

Mike, get use to seeing mom on the nest. They do it alot here, riding down and riding back up without moving. That can happen anytime.

dave
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Sandy - NC
Posts: 617
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 6:40 pm
Location: Rocky Mount, NC

Personally, I think nest replacements are more important for Northern landlords who have to deal with blowflys. Fortunately, we do not have to deal with them in the South, so I don't think nest replacements are necessary unless you come across wet nests. 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of Sevin dust, sprinkled near the front of the nests and lightly tamped into the front of the nest, should take care of mites. I have never replaced a nest as I have my gourds watertight. They only way they could get damp is from wet parents bringing in the water on their feathers which is possible if we get several days of rain.
Don't ever, ever give up. It will happen.

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Laverne
Posts: 2216
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 1:58 pm
Location: TX/Alvin
Martin Colony History: Erected 1st house in 1997. Birds were checking it out before Mike got down from the ladder. Six cavities had a little colony 1st year. Grown to 88 cavities all gourds with near 100% occupancy. Most important factor for success is rain = bugs.

msalcido wrote:Thanks Emil and RRMartin. Makes complete sense on the time, the reason I asked was because last weekend when I did one, there was a female in the nest and when I lowered the house, it scared her and me! :roll: it was about 5:30pm.

Also, make sense about replacing the nests; however the way they create them with the bowl and mud and stuff, I thought to myself "how the heck will I ever recreat that nest"? So good to know it's not necessary unless necessary! :wink:
Mike, it is also not necessary to recreate the nest the Purple Martins build. When doing a nest change in a house, I would just lay down a good pad of pine needles or some other straw. As Emil said, something non-absorbent. I rarely find the need to change a nest because I use Sevin dust to "prevent" mites. This is my first year to use Sevin - I used Avian Insect Liquidator before. But, I think the Sevin is easier to use and more effective. Mites will create an unbearable environment for the nestlings and will cause them to jump before they are ready to fly. As soon as you notice mites, you need to do something to get rid of them. Unfortunately, a nest change will not do the job. A 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of Sevin sprinkled just inside the entrance hole will kill all mites in the nest. They say the mites move through the nesting material to the entrance hole to reach sunshine required to digest their meal. So Sevin placed in this manner will kill the mites without coming in contact with the nestlings. Don't put any more Sevin than that because when the nestlings exercise their wings they will stir up a cloud of Sevin and breathe it in. That can't be good for them - so trust that a fraction of a teaspoon will do the job, it just takes 24 - 48 hours to get rid of the mites. Be patient and remember to prevent. It's best to never get mites in the first place.

This is probably way more information than you expected, but I feel it is all relevant to this subject.

Everybody continues to ask the question, "When to do nestchecks". The biggest concern is disturbing a female Purple Martin while she is laying an egg. This usually happens first thing in the morning. That's why we say wait until afternoon (or so) -- just so you don't disturb the egg laying process. Early in the season the PMs will all take off for several hours to feed. But, as the season progresses and there are eggs in the nests, incubation occurs and the females will be found inside sitting on eggs all during the day. Make your nest checks quick and let the girls get back to their business. Once there are young, again be quick so the babies can be fed. Don't do any nest checks near sunset or after dark because this will disturb the colony after they have settled in for the night. Dangerous for the birds so don't do it. I feel silly even mentioning it, but some people may not have heard this.

I hope you all have successful seasons!! Good luck...
Sincerely,
Laverne
msalcido
Posts: 254
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:25 pm
Location: Texas/Mineola

Thanks everyone some very insightful and helpful information.

Laverne - as always thank you for the in depth information. I can't stress how important it is for me anyways that you are a wealth of information. I did lightly dust the gourds and house with sevin dust prior to the martins arriving. I'll definitely keep an eye out and only use the recommended amounts if indeed the nests get mites.

As for the nest checks - I'm glad you explained about the laying of the eggs in the morning. I wasn't aware of that. I usually do the nest checks about 10am but will begin waiting until after noon. This does make it easier since they are usually all gone and they are not flying over my head screaming loudly at me! :roll: I've been very cautious to make it as quickly as possible. I have my 10 year old daughter helping me do so, I pull the house/gourds down, open them up and tell her contents of nest and she writes it down on a notepad, then I transfer to a speadsheet. She is a very good helper. I'm hoping she will continue the tradition when I'm no longer able! :oops:

Again - thanks to everyone for their input it is invaluable to me!
Mike

Fifth season of being a landlord! :) and a PMCA member!
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!

That's great that you are doing nest checks so you can keep up with what's going on in your martin housing and be able to intervene in a crisis if the martins need your help. And it's great that you are training your daughter in martin management!

The Forum and other martin landlord friends have helped me alot in learning when and how to do nest checks and handle nest mites. Here's another post that has lots of helpful information, where a landlord shared what went wrong in his first nest check:
http://purplemartin.org/forum/viewtopic ... 57ad3c5ef9

You can make that little nest bowl in pine needles in the back of the cavity (if you choose to), by balling your hand up into a fist and twisting/rotating it--spinning your fist around in a circular motion. It works in a nestbox, too, if a bluebird nest gets wet and you have to do a nest replacement. I surprised myself at how good my new nest looked when I had to replace a BB nest.

Concerning nest changes...at first, I was very intimidated to do a nest replacement, but watching some videos of the procedure helped me feel more comfortable with it. You can find some videos if you do a Google Search on "Purple Martin Nest Change;" I may not endorse all the techniques used, but there are some good tips.

Best wishes for a great season!
Kathy in VA
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