With all the rains and cooler weather we've been experiencing in the last week, honestly, I'm a bit afraid to do the nest check. I've been reading about all the rain they're having in the southern states and the numerous losses of chicks due to a lack of food. Check out this sad report from Tulsa, OK: http://www.purplemartin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=30313&start=0
It's not just the coolness or the wet weather that can kill them with hypothermia. Insects can't fly in constant rain and that will have a significant impact on colonies that are trying to feed nestlings. Similar, sad stories are also being played out in Texas and Louisiana where the rain is almost constant these last few weeks.
Check this out from the PMCA:
Four types of weather conditions can adversely affect insect availability, causing Purple Martins to starve: constant temperatures below 50 degrees, steady rain or drizzle, strong
winds, and dense fog. The average martin will survive for about 4-5 days without food, but will become weakened after 2-3 days, so it is best to begin feeding before they become too weak to fly. Feeding is even more beneficial when martins have nestlings to feed, as nestlings may only survive one or two days without food.
I heard martins chirping on my porch rail this morning. It was 59 degrees and more drizzle, so I dumped out a couple of bags of crickets. To my amazement, they didn't just eat the crickets themselves; they were carrying them back to their gourds to feed their babies. Things must be more desperate right now than I realized.
I noticed yesterday that the tree swallows were swooping low over my blooming cone flowers and it suddenly dawned on me that they were catching all the bees that were swarming the pink and yellow blooms! Well, I planted the flowers to draw more insects to feed the birds, so my plan is working.
|I only found 2 bumble bees flying in my meadow today.|
|The lanceleaf coreopsis is looking very vibrant after all the rain we've had.|
|What few bees are flying are being caught by the tree swallows that are trying to keep their young fed also.|
By placing your netting above the predator baffle, you will only have to deal with cutting out the snakes that make it past your predator guard - which means a lot less hassle and fewer injuries to any beneficial snakes.
|Snake caught in netting - photo by Greg Ballard|