Off Topic question for BB experts... ?nest abandonment?

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MamaBruff
Posts: 1466
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:21 pm
Location: SW Missouri
Martin Colony History: 2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.

So my original BBs renested in a 2 hole house near our storage barn after the first brood fledged out of a barnwood house off my patio. Change of location. Makes sense. It looked like everything was normal. Pa BB was pecking at my window yesterday, so I went and checked the BB houses. They had 5 warm BB eggs in their house. All looked good. BUT TODAY it's not so good. Pa and Ma BB are fussing and chasing. She wants to go back into the barnwood house and he chases her off. They didn't return to the second nest site, the 2 hole house. They are clearly upset about something. So I put on my boots and tromped down to check the house, thinking a snake had gotten in... but not the case at all... The 5 eggs are COLD. Hmm. All I can figure is something freaked out Ma BB and she abandoned the nest. The embryos will surely perish if she stops incubating them, wouldn't you think?? The male will go sit on top of the second house, but she will not go in!... So my thought is that the LOGICAL thing to do is to clean out the nest box so they can start over... Now they are back at the barnwood house, sitting on it, "talking" and wing flapping. This is really weird and distressing! .... It is possible that something happened to the original female and this is a new one I am seeing(??) :cry: :roll: :?:

PS there are starlings all over my gourd rack, some holding nesting material in their beaks, displaying and calling. But none are able to enter the gourds. One entered my Good old S&S nestbox trap, briefly. Ugh. :x
~Mary B~

Lifelong PM Admirer and Nature Enthusiast.
Ruthless trapper of S&S year round.
2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.
MamaBruff
Posts: 1466
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:21 pm
Location: SW Missouri
Martin Colony History: 2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.

MamaBruff wrote: There are starlings all over my gourd rack, some holding nesting material in their beaks, displaying and calling. But none are able to enter the gourds. One entered my Good old S&S nestbox trap, briefly. Ugh. :x
WRONG! One had breached one of my new TVH gourds that faces away so I can't see entrance. Put in a Troyer-Haskell tunnel trap, but Starling would not re-enter. Closed away facing entrances.

BB problem: I removed the nest with cold eggs.
~Mary B~

Lifelong PM Admirer and Nature Enthusiast.
Ruthless trapper of S&S year round.
2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.
Dan G
Posts: 399
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:52 pm
Location: PA/Bellefonte
Martin Colony History: Trying since 2014. Visitors, but no nests. Several colonies with in 6 mile radius.

I hope they are OK. I'm not sure about BB's, but a wild turkey will lay an egg a day over the course of a couple weeks or more. Even with cold inclement weather in between, she leaves the nest for most of the day. The hen will begin to incubate after all eggs are laid, so that they hatch about the same time.

My BB's had three eggs a week ago. I looked last night and its still 3 eggs and the parents were not around. I hope others chime in and its good news.
Bellefonte PA
2014, 1st year-a few lookers, no nests
2015, 'Spot' SY male, here every day from 5-28 to 6-23, and several other visitors.
2016 added a perch wire between house and gourd rack.
offering 22 cavities, T-14 plus 8 gourds
2016, multiple visitors from 6-20 on. Almost daily
2017- Lots of visitors late in season.
2018- Adding another T-14. Few visitors
2019- Hopeful but stopped holding my breath
MamaBruff
Posts: 1466
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:21 pm
Location: SW Missouri
Martin Colony History: 2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.

Thank you DanB. I'm pretty sure all birds lay one egg per day until they reach the desired clutch size. Chickens do it, Purple Martins do it, and Bluebirds do too. This Mama BB had been incubating her eggs for several days. They were cozy warm yesterday. All I can figure is a raccoon was trying to get at the nest or something in the middle of the night and the mama flew out. I have wobbly wide stove pipe predator guards on all my BB poles. Added snake netting under the box with babies in the back of the property, and was planning to put netting under this box today - until all the drama happened! That poor male has been beside himself, pecking at all my windows to make sure I can see him. He generally does that window hang and peck stuff to "tell" me something is going on. That's how I knew a few days ago to check the boxes and I found Mama incubating her eggs. He does it when eggs hatch, or if the mealworm feeder is empty. Or sometimes to say "Hello, look at me"... He has me well trained.

As for your BB parents gone and there's still only 3 eggs after a week, I'd be worried about that. Did you touch them to see if they were warm?

I see from your profile you are in the Wannabe Club too. We will fret and obsess over the Martins too! :lol:

Take care.
~Mary B~

Lifelong PM Admirer and Nature Enthusiast.
Ruthless trapper of S&S year round.
2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.
Dan G
Posts: 399
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:52 pm
Location: PA/Bellefonte
Martin Colony History: Trying since 2014. Visitors, but no nests. Several colonies with in 6 mile radius.

Yes Mary, I am a not so proud, card carrying member of the wannabe club. I havent seen a martin at our house yet, but i know there is time.
As i walked to the BB house last evening, to check if the eggs were warm as you suggested, M-BB flew out and landed nearby. I guess i was worried for no reason.
Bellefonte PA
2014, 1st year-a few lookers, no nests
2015, 'Spot' SY male, here every day from 5-28 to 6-23, and several other visitors.
2016 added a perch wire between house and gourd rack.
offering 22 cavities, T-14 plus 8 gourds
2016, multiple visitors from 6-20 on. Almost daily
2017- Lots of visitors late in season.
2018- Adding another T-14. Few visitors
2019- Hopeful but stopped holding my breath
BrendaVR
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon May 12, 2014 12:44 pm
Location: Ontario/Burlington

I tend to let things be and wait things out with BB.
I'm not sure how cold you felt but Momma does not need to keep them toasty hot constantly, she will leave the nest and they will cool slightly without getting totally chilled. If the eggs all looked intact I would leave them be and just see what happens. If she has abandoned the nest she will start a new nest in a new box (likely even if you have removed the first nest she will not use the same box, I find mine will always switch if something major happened). If there is an open one available nearby I would just leave the nest and let her do what she will. They may surprise you and hatch, or she will build a new nest in the other box and then you would know for sure. Sometimes the TRES here will poke their head into the Blues box and that sometimes sends the blues into a titter, all kinds of commotion last year (full on air war at times) but everything worked out fine in the end. It's hard to wait but I find that is the best.
MamaBruff
Posts: 1466
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:21 pm
Location: SW Missouri
Martin Colony History: 2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.

Thank you for your advice Brenda. Maybe I should have been more patient... I should remind myself that BBs have been doing their thing for thousands of years without my "help"... But it was really COLD here that morning, and Pa and Ma Blue were fighting! He kept running her off the pergola, the barnwood house, the mealworm feeder, chasing her everywhere. Took her to the ground a couple of times even. And he was frantically pecking and flogging my windows, like "Help, something is wrong!" It was heartbreaking to watch. After checking the COLD eggs, I observed for several hours and the mother never re-entered the box. The fussing and chasing continued. I had never seen them behave so strangely. Indeed the eggs were COLD when I removed the nest. So they had been COLD for several hours. But after a fashion the pair patched things up, whatever it was, and have started building a new nest in the barnwood house today. He stays right by her side, and even tenderly feeds her mealworms now. He closely supervises the building, and helps gather nest material, and looks after the fledglings from the previous brood. I would swear I saw them mating this evening, and she entered the barnwood house at dark.
So it seems all is well on the BB front for now at least. :roll:
~Mary B~

Lifelong PM Admirer and Nature Enthusiast.
Ruthless trapper of S&S year round.
2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.
John & Linda - KY
Posts: 599
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 10:19 pm
Location: Kentucky/Hawesville

Male BB's will "fight" their reflection in a window or mirror, thinking another male is trying to take their territory over. My sister-in-law had one that repeatedly attacked her car's side mirror. -- John
Dan G
Posts: 399
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:52 pm
Location: PA/Bellefonte
Martin Colony History: Trying since 2014. Visitors, but no nests. Several colonies with in 6 mile radius.

My bbs has eggs at least 18 days ago. They appeared not to be tending them. Last eve I noticed the female sitting on stue Martin perch about Fifty feet away and I assumed that they had failed. I was contemplating removing the 'bad eggs' so that they would nest in the same house again, away from the pm house. However when I opened the box, I was greeted by three recently hatched chicks!! I almost made a very poor error.
Bellefonte PA
2014, 1st year-a few lookers, no nests
2015, 'Spot' SY male, here every day from 5-28 to 6-23, and several other visitors.
2016 added a perch wire between house and gourd rack.
offering 22 cavities, T-14 plus 8 gourds
2016, multiple visitors from 6-20 on. Almost daily
2017- Lots of visitors late in season.
2018- Adding another T-14. Few visitors
2019- Hopeful but stopped holding my breath
warbird
Posts: 199
Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 10:04 am
Location: Calofornia MO

I had bb houses up sense last year and had one pair going in and out of both houses and I seen nesting material in both houses and thought I had a pair and I went to do a nest check and found hs eggs in both houses [week later] I took care of hs. No bb for a month l noticed I had bb pair checking out houses today. Hope they stay. I'm sure they already have a nest somewhere else. New to bb.
joe
2015 8 pair
2016 35 pair
2017 55 pair
tor
Posts: 220
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:35 pm
Location: Marlboro County, SC
Martin Colony History: Capacity: 72 Troyers on 3 X Super-24 racks

BB's can do weird things. I've got 6 boxes on our BB trail, and I've seen a lot of weird stuff. I usually leave them alone though, except checking once a week, and if babies, putting just a little sevin in there. I've seen an entire brood hatch and grow to fledge day on top of five old eggs. When the second mom was done laying, and I stuck my head in, there were 11 eggs. What!!! I left them. No telling which ones are first and seconds.
Location: Marlboro County, SC

2020: Capacity: 72 - First Scouts: 2/11 - 71 pair - 298 hatched as of last nest check.
2019: Capacity: 72 - First Scouts: 2/22 - 70 pair - 315 fledged
2018: Capacity: 70 - First Scouts: 2/18 - 60 pair - 270 fledged
2017: Capacity: 42 - First Scouts: 2/25 - 39 pair
2016: Capacity: 42 - First Scouts: 3/10 - 32 pair
2015: Capacity: 24 - First Scouts: 3/23 - 4 pair

Purple Martins Of South Carolina
2020 Season
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