Is something eating this baby's feathers?

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Diane Porter
Posts: 213
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:30 am
Location: Iowa

Yesterday was Day 14 for the lone surviving chick in our gourds. It seemed much livelier than the previous day, which was hotter and muggier.

But I'm worried about the condition of its feathers. There seems to be more bare spots than the day before. I changed out the nest on Day 11 and put 1/8 tsp Sevin under the bedding. But I just wonder if something is eating the feathers off this baby. Is that possible?

I haven't looked in yet today.

Do bugs eat the feathers?

Will the baby be able to fly and survive with bald patches?

Should I change out the nest again today? Apply Sevin under the bedding again?

Is there anything I should do directly to the bird?

Or is this perhaps a normal way for a Purple Martin to look at this age?

Please advise! And thanks for any words of wisdom you can send my way.
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Diane Porter
Fairfield, Iowa
brent
Posts: 178
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:43 pm
Location: Raceland, Louisiana

I noticed that the little chick I found on the ground earlier this season had an area where there appeared to be missing feathers around it's neck behind it's head. I concluded that it was probably pecked on. As I cared for it the feathers filled in. Is it possible that your little one is being pecked? I'm just a 3rd year landlord but if you changed the nest and added sevin I can't imagine it's mites or any thing like that. The chick otherwise looks healthy and well fed. Just my thoughts.
johncanfield
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon May 04, 2020 5:13 pm
Location: Texas

Check the YouTube live stream of the purplemartin.org nest cam, I think those chicks are about 12 days old. Yours does look a bit scruffy compared to them.

I found two wren fledglings on the ground today, one was really young and one could almost fly. The parents were alarming in the tree but nothing I could do. I put the really young one in a tree crook, it's a helpless feeling though. Our heeler had the little one in her mouth but didn't hurt it. We brought the dogs in the house. Hope the little wrens make it.
John
JJ Ranch
Texas Hill Country
ToyinPA
Posts: 2126
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

I would guess it's mite or lice. Change the nest again & put Sevin under the nesting material. As long as the chick has wing & tail feathers it will be able to fly.

Toy in PA
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Mike Mack
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:56 pm
Location: Centex

Go ahead and use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sevin a 1/8 may just not be enough.
Diane Porter
Posts: 213
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:30 am
Location: Iowa

It occurred to me belatedly that my Sevin was old. So I bought some new the moment the store opened this morning, changed the nest again and used the new Sevin. The poor waif looks dreadful, and I'm doubting it can survive. But if this damage is due to mites, maybe this new Sevin and new nest will stop further damage. I don't know if the bird has time to grow feathers now. I'm pretty devastated. I have so horribly failed this little bird in my care.

I used 3/8 tsp Sevin this time. I wiped the gourd inside and out with a damp towel before adding fresh bedding.
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Diane Porter
Fairfield, Iowa
Diane Porter
Posts: 213
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:30 am
Location: Iowa

Yesterday I used the new Sevin under new nesting material. I also put about 1/64 tsp of diatomaceous earth directly on the bird's back and belly, very gently massaging it into the feathers. Of course I was concerned that it might be harmful, but the baby looked so terrible I felt it was going to die, and that this might just give him a chance against any parasites that might be working down in the follicles.

This morning I was encouraged to see the parents continue to defend the nest. When a second-year male looked in, the adult female came out of the gourd and drove it away. Immediately the adult male entered the gourd. I think they're really giving it their all to bring off this one offspring.

I opened the gourd late this afternoon with my heart in my mouth and trying to prepare myself in case things were bad in there.

But the Babe was not sad looking at all. It was quite frisky. And the feathers looked way better than yesterday. Where the poor little bird's shoulder was bare yesterday, today it was covered in healthy-looking fuzz. The tail feathers, which had not progressed for a couple of days, were dramatically more developed. It's hard to describe how much healthier that little bird looked.

I think it is still a rough ride to get ready to fledge, but Day 17 was a good day. It could be this little Martin is going to make it.
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Diane Porter
Fairfield, Iowa
brent
Posts: 178
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:43 pm
Location: Raceland, Louisiana

That's great news! Thanks for keeping us up to date.
Black Jack
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon May 06, 2019 4:37 pm
Location: NC

I have been keeping up with your struggle. Wishing the best for both of you. Just my 2 cts, i would not use cedar shavings they do tend to keep wet once they are wet.

Regards
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