What time of day is best for nest check?

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AvianStewardess
Posts: 342
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 3:10 pm
Location: Maryland/Cambridge

Getting up my brave to lower PM house that has one nesting pair to check nest. What time is best? When the adults are not around? I know I should look for mites and broken eggs. Anything else? ...Besides hatchlings :wink:
~Michelle
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Heritage Farm Quad Pod Systems
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2932
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

You just don't want to check them in the morning. This is when the females typically lay the eggs and you don't want to flush her out during that process. I usually do them in the afternoon when they are out feeding but even if they are still in the housing it won't bother them. Sometimes the females stay inside as you lower the house so don't get surprised if she is still in there. Try to note how many eggs are in the nest and then check again in a few days. They usually will lay one egg per day so you can tell when she finishes laying eggs so you can calculate the hatch date.
Once they are due to hatch try to check those days for capped eggs. Sometimes the half of a shell from one egg will sit on top of another egg and the babies can't get out. I usually catch one or two of those each year.
2020 Currently 42 nest, 110 babies, 64 eggs left to hatch(6-22-20) HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair last count 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional SY's stayed all summer but never paired/nested.
2016 1 pair fledged 4
2015 Visitors
2014 Visitors
2013 Moved 6 miles away, 1 pair fledged 2.
2012 30 pair fledged 100.
2011 12 pair (11 that nested), 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair, 21 eggs, 16 hatched, 14 fledged.
AvianStewardess
Posts: 342
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 3:10 pm
Location: Maryland/Cambridge

Is that what's going on this morning??? I have been a nervous nelly all morning because the gal flew out just a couple of times (bugs?) then she's been in the cavity ever since. The male has mostly been perched up top. I had myself almost talked into this scenario, so glad to have a bit more confirmation. In any event, the timing of her changed behavior has me spooked so I think I will make sure I see her leave before I lower the unit.
~Michelle
PMCA Member
Heritage Farm Quad Pod Systems
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!

Congratulations for getting up the nerve to monitor your martins!

Perhaps she is laying eggs this morning. Afternoon is the better time to lower the housing.

I also would not recommend doing nest checks late in the evening, especially when the birds are getting ready to come in to roost for the night. It’s getting cooler by then and more stressful on the eggs or young to become chilled, and if your rope pulley/winch breaks or there is a problem, you need time to fix it.
Also look for wet nests (rain came in thru entrance hole or attachment holes at top of gourd, or ran in from the front porch of a house), blowfly larvae, broken eggs, dead adults or nestlings, missing eggs/young/adults (due to premature fledging, snake/raccoon/owl/squirrel/opossum/starling/house sparrow attacks), wasp nests, ants, birds trapped in the entrance hole, condensation on ceiling of cavity, etc.
Make sure you have a good predator guard on the pole; our scent will not cause the martins to abandon their young, but human scent may draw predators to the nest, and if there is no guard to protect against climbing predators, a whole colony can be wiped out.
Just be very careful when the young martins get close to fledging time, to keep them from jumping out of the nest before they are able to fly.

Here is alot of good information about nest checks:

http://purplemartin.org/forum/viewtopic ... 57ad3c5ef9

http://purplemartin.org/update/NCheck.html

http://www.purplemartin.org/pmw/7%283%2 ... tCheck.pdf

http://www.purplemartin.org/pmw/6%282%2 ... nwatch.pdf

Best wishes for a great season!
Kathy in VA
AvianStewardess
Posts: 342
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 3:10 pm
Location: Maryland/Cambridge

Wow! Thank you Kathy in VA! Sure enough, she is out of the cavity just like described. They are spending a lot more time on the perch and closer by when flying so I'm sure I'll find something.
~Michelle
PMCA Member
Heritage Farm Quad Pod Systems
AvianStewardess
Posts: 342
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 3:10 pm
Location: Maryland/Cambridge

And, like that, my first nest check is complete. Nest made up of mostly pines needles, a few shorter phragmite stems (working on getting rid of that) and then lined with dried willow oak leaves (oak that thrives on tidal creeks). Compartment dry, clean, bug free (didn't jostle nest this time - will poke better next time). One egg! "I knew she was behaving differently today!" Now to chew off all my fingernails waiting for her to come reclaim the house.
~Michelle
PMCA Member
Heritage Farm Quad Pod Systems
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!

You're welcome!
I'm not sure what you meant by getting rid of phragmite when you were describing your nest check, but if you meant you were removing the stems from the martin nest which the martins put in there, I would not recommend that. During nest checks, I would not disturb the nest except for maybe adding some nest material under the eggs if the bowl gets real shallow and the eggs are directly on a gourd bottom or on the metal/wooden house floor with no padding under them, where bouncing around could break them. You don't want to take any chances on causing the birds to abandon. If there are phragmites stems/seeds in the nest, you can remove and destroy them later, when you clean out the nest at the end of the season. Birds will use whatever nesting material is available. In a bluebird nest, I just found a piece of torn-up black plastic that the farmer next door used last year to cover his rows of tomatoes to keep down the weeds and hold in the irrigation moisture that runs underneath it. Bits and pieces of it blow around and are trash to me, but I'm glad the bluebirds found it beneficial for something! And no, it is not a House Sparrow nest! (They are famous for using trash in their nests.)

I didn't know what phragmites was, but I looked it up. Maybe you just meant that you were trying to eradicate that invasive plant from your property. Sounds like that is a good thing to do. Congratulations on your egg. Is this your first egg as a landlord? Today is the first day I've seen your posts, so I don't know your history, other than your profile says "Active" colony. And keep your fingernails...don't worry; she'll come back to her egg. Best wishes for a great season!
Kathy in VA
AvianStewardess
Posts: 342
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 3:10 pm
Location: Maryland/Cambridge

Didn't take away any stems from the nest; meant on the property. Moved here last fall and it came with one PM house. When the adults showed up, it looked like we had room for growth and added two more systems (the other has only had lookers, no takers). Learning as it comes along but this forum site is a great resource...very glad I found it. The existing PM house has me too nervous to take an active role: they are incredibly shy, the house is the one not well-like by the experts, and the rope to pull it down really jars the whole unit. Just not up to that experience as a new landlord. I will replace after the season ends...however the experts recommend I do that best. But I have been trying to "build" the two new sites so they are calmer around us. After i finished, the female went to the porch, appeared a tiny bit agitated but stayed put. The male poked his head in then both went to the perch. I never see her go in at night; 50-50 with him...
~Michelle
PMCA Member
Heritage Farm Quad Pod Systems
pmcharter1
Posts: 110
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:59 pm
Location: iowa/madrid

i agree with kathy in va, its like 4 pm, i lower the house checking nests, open one, the scared the heck out of me , the female didnt get off the nest, so i closed it it , thinking i was doing it early., ( i do not do nest cks after 5pm, as they are settling in to roost, , tried that once, house messed up , pully proablem, they went nuts before i got it raised!they tolerate it during day, less activitiy, but when nesting , it still bothers me to do so., but you have to, just worries me.i couldnt even see the female in there, so much mud in front of the inside of house, iwas just looking for eggs, there she was!, i just raised it to check later. maybe mid day when shes gone, i couldnt beleive she never flew out!wasny exspecting that, all fine now
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