First egg this year is the largest I have ever seen

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
Post Reply
MartiStupka
Posts: 41
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:41 am
Location: Florida/Fort Myers

It is early for me to find eggs in my colony. I was surprised to find any today, but generally start at least weekly checks when I see that the nest building has started. Today I found 3 eggs!! One of these eggs was the largest one I have ever seen produced by a Martin. I should have taken a picture, and will do so tomorrow if weather cooperates. It rained all day today in SW Florida. I was lucky to get the chance to check my colony. Have any of you seen a Martin egg that is larger than usual? I suppose that Martins can have twins, right? I can't seem to find anything when I search the Forum, but will continue to try. Just thought I'd ask if anyone has had this experience, and what was the outcome? (Big Martin, twins, didn't hatch, or didn't survive when hatched? or any other possibilities). I love my Martin colony, and every season there is something new. Thanks to all who have responded to my questions in the past.
Marti Stupka
kborder
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:02 pm
Location: Ohio/Dresden

Is it a possibility that the egg was laid by a cowbird? I forget what color they are, and didn't get online to check, but if there's any chance it is, GET RID OF IT
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Marti,

A few times people have sent photos of a giant martin egg (always from FL) and it has turned out to be a screech owl egg!

I don't know of any records of a twinned embryo in one martin egg. Landlords are likely to see runt eggs, elongated eggs, and similar variations in egg shape and size, though. I'll find a photo I have last year showing some examples. Here's some info from the PM Update: http://www.purplemartin.org/update/BecomSleuth.html
janb
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:00 am
Location: TN/Hendersonville

I had chickens for years. We ate most of the eggs. Quite often we would find one egg that was much much larger than the others. These eggs ALWAYS had double yolks inside.
DebA
Posts: 1941
Joined: Tue May 04, 2010 7:43 am
Location: Pratt County/Kansas
Martin Colony History: Start 2009 with one pair. Upgraded from S&K houses to two Trendsetter 12's with gourds beneath in 2013. I have experienced job, pet, and parental losses since '13. The Purple Martins lift my spirits and remind me how life continues forward by flying their little selves from Brazil back to my yard. As one forum person once told me, chin up DebA, look at the martins. Danger all around but yet they soar in the sky without a care in the world.

Always love a good forum martin mystery with my morning coffee. Seems like there is one every year.
Deb
PMCA MEMBER
Pratt County, Kansas
2016 34 PAIR
2015 27 PAIR
2014 23 PAIR
2013 13 PAIR
2012 6 PAIR
2011 4 PAIR
2010 2 PAIR
2009 1 PAIR
MartiStupka
Posts: 41
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:41 am
Location: Florida/Fort Myers

I continue to watch my Martin "condo" and did a check yesterday because of the larger egg I found earlier this week. I have had more grackles than is usual, but have not seen cowbirds, or anything else lurking about and annoying my Martins. I now have 18 eggs as of late yesterday afternoon, and a number of nests that are "ready" for eggs. The compartment that had the larger egg, now has 4 eggs that larger than what I have ever observed. I don't know what grackle eggs look like or if a grackle would even lay eggs in the Martin house. As I am typing this, a grackle is perched on the top of my owl guard with Martins all around and not bothered. I guess that I would like to know if anyone has heard of grackles laying eggs in a Martin compartment with Martins occupying other compartments. The grackles and mockingbirds seem to chase off the crows, and I enjoy watching Martins and other birds go after the crows. The Martins seem to hold their own and chase away the crows. I just don't know enough about birds and their nesting habits other than the evil House Sparrows and Starlings. Unless, I hear otherwise, I will continue to monitor my condo, as I normally do and intervene if necessary. With eggs present, I now need to set up my netting to keep the evil rat snakes away. And of course, I am ever vigilant looking for House Sparrows.
With regard to these larger eggs, perhaps I just have a larger Martin couple that produce larger eggs? Any thoughts?
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

There are a couple of reports of grackles nesting inside a martin house - one was Common Grackles in PA, in a standard (6") Trio cavity.

What kind of grackles are you seeing? Boat-tailed or Common? Grackles are not cavity nesters, so it would be very unusual, but could be - except that you are looking at solid white eggs, no speckles - so back to martin eggs.
chickadee
Posts: 1126
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:02 pm
Location: ohio

I am just wondering how grackles or a screech owl could get inside to lay eggs?
2008 first year 1 pair. 2009 3 pair. 2010 7 pair. 2011 20 pair . 2012 44 pair 280 eggs 210 fledged. 2013 67 pair. 2014?
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Both can get inside round, 2 inch entrances, but not into sreh entrances.
Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

Humm, you know anyone with a digital camara? I'm sure we would all like to see the nest with the big eggs.
chickadee
Posts: 1126
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:02 pm
Location: ohio

ok let me make sure I got this right. so a screech owl can get inside a martin house and nest if you use round entrance holes? if this is the case their is know owl protection if they can just go inside. I urge people really to switch from round to crescent now. I did not realize they could get in.learn something new everyday.
2008 first year 1 pair. 2009 3 pair. 2010 7 pair. 2011 20 pair . 2012 44 pair 280 eggs 210 fledged. 2013 67 pair. 2014?
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

American Kestrels can get inside a standard round entrance too, and have been observed nesting in a homemade wooden martin box. I think screech owls are more likely to roost in a house than nest in it - though Florida landlords have shared articles about screech owls nesting in gourds (with round entrances) and in T14 houses (round entrances).

Some of my favorite photos of all time were shared by a Florida martin landlord - female screech owl peering out of gourd at night, and later faces of nestlings crowded into the entrance hole.

https://naturetime.wordpress.com/catego ... da/page/4/

The photo with moon in sky was back cover of Update: Mama Screech Owl and Moon. Appeared as back cover of Purple Martin Quarterly magazine in 2005, and in an article about screech owls in Issue 14(2), page 25, April 2005. and of course we enjoyed using as caption, "Owl be your baby tonight"
chickadee
Posts: 1126
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:02 pm
Location: ohio

O my gosh! I am just amazed by this. The picture really puts it in prospective. Guess it has been a while since I have seen a round entrence for a Martin house. I had starlings use a screech owl box with a bigger hole.And I just always wondered what would happen if a owl came along at night. Guess he would get bed and breakfast. Thanks for sharing that photo.
2008 first year 1 pair. 2009 3 pair. 2010 7 pair. 2011 20 pair . 2012 44 pair 280 eggs 210 fledged. 2013 67 pair. 2014?
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

One more thing the FL landlord mentioned: next year they put up a box for the screech owl, and she used it. They reported hearing her singing to herself inside the box, while she was incubating her eggs. I don't know what that might sound like, but screech owls make some pretty incredible noises.

One night I got the scare of my life - I was walking across bridge over a wide creek near my home in a very small town (French Creek, Venango PA - mapped by George Washington when he was doing surveyor work). I heard two odd cries and then - RIGHT behind my head - two loud SNAPs! I headed home kind of fast - later realized that was a screech owl doing bill snaps, may have had fledged young nearby. They were common in that neighborhood, and it was a treat on summer nights to hear them calling from the large old maple trees that lined the streets.
Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

Louise Chambers wrote:One night I got the scare of my life - I was walking across bridge over a wide creek near my home in a very small town (French Creek, Venango PA - mapped by George Washington when he was doing surveyor work). I heard two odd cries and then - RIGHT behind my head - two loud SNAPs! I headed home kind of fast - later realized that was a screech owl doing bill snaps, may have had fledged young nearby. They were common in that neighborhood, and it was a treat on summer nights to hear them calling from the large old maple trees that lined the streets.
Around '88 I was living with my parents near Dallas. I was walking through a wooded lot flash light in hand just after dark when the exact thing happened to me. I thought it was branches falling on me. Then I discovered it was a family of screech owls.
chickadee
Posts: 1126
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:02 pm
Location: ohio

we use to have a screech owl box. and a owl that lived in it. my husband went and got him and held him one day showed him to the young kids in are family. he was pretty cool. we heard scary noises one night that is how we new we had one to put up a box. he would love to put up one here where we live now. but is it smart to have one when you have martins? the people in Florida did they have martins and a nesting owl?
2008 first year 1 pair. 2009 3 pair. 2010 7 pair. 2011 20 pair . 2012 44 pair 280 eggs 210 fledged. 2013 67 pair. 2014?
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Yes, they had nesting owls and martins. Key is to have all sreh entrances, and even then, it would depend on how big your property was, distance you could place between the martins and owls. Same with kestrel boxes.

I'd love to have screech owls and we have a box, for our weekend property, which is rural - but I'm not sure....
Anthony Neira
Posts: 1317
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:12 pm
Location: San Antonio /Texas
Martin Colony History: Started in 1992 From neighbors old 1950-60's colonies. Have 8 Trio 6 Room Houses, 4 MPP Poles, 1 Heath Deluxe Gourd with Troyer Porch, 8 NatureLine Gourds with Troyer Porches, 5 Troyer Horizontals ,& 2 S&K 11" WITH Troyer Porches ready for 2019 Season !

Louise, Could Marti let "it" hatch, and then take it to rescue/rehab. center near her, like we could here in cent. Tx.? (edit): Oops! I meant to say "IF" it / they turn out to not be pm.s, but it sounds like things are on the right track, Marti knows what to, thanks again (my bad).
Last edited by Anthony Neira on Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

It sounds like she has martin eggs in there, until we see a photo, we won't know for sure.
chickadee
Posts: 1126
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:02 pm
Location: ohio

This is good news. I have all sreh entrances. and the racks are all caged in. so sounds like it would be safe to have a screech owl. i just thought how you know during the day other birds know what's in the box. so the martins would and move. just not positive if it is a good idea to invite any kind of owl to stay in your yard? Great now I am conflicted. :grin:
2008 first year 1 pair. 2009 3 pair. 2010 7 pair. 2011 20 pair . 2012 44 pair 280 eggs 210 fledged. 2013 67 pair. 2014?
Post Reply