It appears my 'regulars' remember the drill. The banded female below wasted no time being the first up to the buffet.
At my house, you best not be late when the dinner bell rings though.
In fact, yesterday evening at 7:00 P.M. when the last weather system finally broke, I stepped out to see if my colony was doing okay. I started to worry when I only counted 5 birds on the racks. Finally, at 7:50 P.M., they suddenly started dropping out of the sky and into their gourds. They had taken advantage of the brief amount of sunshine and gone to hunt and gather. It's okay, I'm not offended they prefer live, squiggly stuff over my eggs and crickets.
I awoke today to a loud, raucous noise in my south yard - the sun was out and it was already above 60 degrees! Yay! NO crickets or eggs today! For the first time in 4 days, I was able to just cook a couple of eggs for myself.
As I waited for the weather to warm further, so I could do what I dreaded most today, I noticed my red clover was blooming.
After putting it off as long as I could, I started lowering my racks and checking each gourd, hoping upon hope that I wouldn't find what I feared most - dead, starved martins. I breathed a sigh of relief after lowering the first 2 racks and not finding any. Such a relief. Then I lowered the third rack and was shocked at the condition of the wire. My mind couldn't put 2 and 2 together to figure out how this happened. And wouldn't you know it - I haven't started up the game cameras yet.
The top 3 broken wires in the picture were bent out and the one on the bottom was bent down and in, with its tip behind another wire. "Ok, WHO taught my Great Horned Owl to use a set of wire cutters?", I pondered to myself and laughed uneasily. Racoon? No way - a racoon would have climbed up the pole and already been inside the cage, wreaking his havoc. Owl? Hmmm - could / would an owl hang on the cage and vigorously work over the joint where these wires were pulled apart? Why not just fly up under the cage, instead - it would take a lot less energy to do that! Would she really wear down her beak gnawing on the wire cage, when there was an easier approach?
I called Bob out to look at it and the ends of the wire where they were separated. Click on the pictures below to see better closeups. Lightning maybe? But check out the picture above....the wires are bent in different directions....
So, other than the big hole in the cage that must have been created by some super-evolved Chupacabra animal here on Gobbler's Knob, all was really otherwise very well. I found 5 eggs in a gourd on this same rack - but I doubt they're viable, since they were very cold and there were no martins around most of the day today to incubate them. I lightly marked them with a marker, so I can keep track of their progress...or lack thereof.
I'm not normally a 'fraidy-cat, but dang....
Ok fellow sleuth-bugs - so what was it?