to nest check or not to nest check - old babies

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Posts: 688
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:15 pm
Location: Plano, Texas
Martin Colony History: See Signature

Good afternoon all.

I am sitting here watching my Martins and wanting to do a nest check to see how many more eggs hatched and what the condition of all the babies are. I've read about landlords not doing nest checks due to the possibility of jumpers. So I have two nests where the babies are now at the entrance looking out and taking insects from the parents. The feeding is now a fly by/drop off scenario for those two pair.

So. Will I run the risk of any of these babies Peter Panning off the gourds as I raise and lower the rack? I'm ok not doing a nest check as everybody was very healthy last week but, at the same time, I want to check on everybody and their eggs.

Thanks in advance.

2016 - late to put up, many visitors
2017 - 1 pair, 3 fledged
2018- 2 pair, 12 fledged
2019 - 4 pair, 21 fledged
2020 - 15 pair, 67 fledged
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 648
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

Cool whips,
Do you know the age of the babies sticking their heads out? If they are 22 days or older you need to plug the entrance to those gourds. We do that by using small old socks with a long string tied to them. You could use other things that are soft enough to be able to pull out. We lower the gourds just enough to stick the sock (or plug) into the very front of the entrances. We’ve never had a baby jump out while doing this. Then we lower them all the way. The string should be long enough that after you’ve done your nest check (excluding the ones close to fledging) and raise your gourds back up, you can pull on the string to remove the plug. But wait a Little while before doing this giving everyone a chance to settle down. Also we found that we shouldn’t shove the sock in far or it might get stuck and won’t come out when we pull on the string.
I’m sure others may have different methods of what they use or how they plug gourds but this has worked for us over the years.
Ed Svetich-WI
Posts: 798
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 10:05 pm
Location: Brooks, Wi (McGinnis Lake)
Martin Colony History: 24 Super and Excluder Gourds on two gourd racks, all SREH. Full occupancy. My philosophy is to maximize fledge % with existing cavities rather than adding gourds to grow colony, thus providing opportunities for new colony expansion. Fledge over 100 nestlings yearly from 24 gourds. Band nestlings in cooperation with state university. 2019 Adendum: Reduced colony size to 12 gourds to focus on more intensive management regimen.

How old are the oldest nestlings? Premature fledging is more likely with 22 day old and older nestlings. I push it a bit and have had no issues.If you have been regularly doing nest checks, the nestlings will be used to the activity. I do a lot of nest checks / replacements. Do you know the expected hatch days for the remaining nests? At any rate, a quick, quiet nest check with younger nestlings present is possible if they are not past the 22 day+ threshold.

Congratulations on a successful year.

Posts: 189
Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2006 8:45 am
Location: Indiana/Scottsburg

Great advise already given. For me, I pushed the nest checks later last year. Typically once the first nests get to 22 days I quit the nest checks. But last year I plugged the holes, lowered the rack & did the check then raised the rack. I waited 6 to 10 minutes not wanting to have them overheat in the closed up gourds. Three nestlings "flew", more a struggled glide, to the nearby bushes. I could not retrieve them. This is making me gun shy to do late checks again.
What I think I did wrong is not wait like 10-15 minutes. That could have avoided the premature fledging.
Landlording since 1996 in beautiful southern Indiana.
Posts: 143
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:58 am
Location: Awesome Florida
Martin Colony History: Newbie in 2020: 2 pair of SY with 4 eggs each in Troyer Horizontals
fledged a total of 7 Martins

I will do a final nest check tomorrow on my #2 gourd. The chicks are 20-21
days old.Its been easy for me so far. A few hiccups along the way, and worries
being my 1st year as a landlord. Most setups must be lowered. Mine must be
rotated to index 3 cavities at a time. I check only 1 gourd now, 2 when I had babies
in both. I wonder if they sense altitude more so then spinning or are afraid more of
spinning because they sometimes are at the entrance while I turn the setup and
scurry back deep into the gourd. I know its an unusual setup compared to most.
My house is over water. I am standing on my boat which sits 5 feet under the house.
I also did a check at 24 days
with my #1 gourd because of a real bad horizontal rain/wind without an incident.
I guess next year
will be my true test for this setup. I am glad I started this. 8)
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