I had been noticing a few martins with yellow bands on the gourd racks and since the weather was so perfect on Friday, I decided to get out my equipment and spend a few hours with my martins. This is how I use my vacation time and where I am 100% focused on my martins and nothing else can bother or worry me - in my yard, with my martins and my spotting scope.
But there is a process to prepare for "band-spotting" work and I have a list of what is needed. First, sunscreen - SPF 50 is required, or my first outing into the sun will result in a very charred, red nose. Next, a few dabs of Vanilla extract around my nose, mouth and eyes to keep the gnats away from my face. Sticky, but very effective! I also carry a small, cheap notepad with a pencil (I prefer pencil, just in case I write down a wrong number) and a set of binoculars for the overall, initial scanning. I love the yellow Missouri bands that MRBO put on my birds - it makes them so easy to spot.
Bob mounted my umbrella holder on the back of my 4-wheeler for me. I love this thing! Bob and our recently-deceased friend, Bob Petersen, had come up with this clever design so that I could sit out in the sun, anywhere in my yard, during the heat of the day and spot bands or just enjoy my martins. Yes, I'm fully aware of how spoiled I am.
It's especially challenging at this time of year to read bands as the martins tend to flit around from rack to rack, visiting all the other gourds and other potential mates and that makes it hard to tell to which gourd they belong. But this time, a couple of them revealed to which gourd they were committed by the persistent wave of green leaves they were bringing in. I was surprised that they are still bringing in green leaves at this stage of the season, with so many eggs already laid.
This guy, Mr. A407 was packing in the green leaves for G20. There are no words to express how thrilled I was when I reviewed his record today. He was originally born in my Trendsetter (cavity #8) and was banded here as a nestling on 6/29/2011, making him 6 years old this year. But what made my spotting of him really special - he had also nested in the Trendsetter for the last 2 years. That means that he not only survived all the owl attacks on the house during that time, he also adapted when he returned this year to find the Trendsetter had been replaced by a gourd rack. He chose to nest in a gourd this year, meaning yes, he REALLY wants to stay HERE. Oh, welcome home, you gorgeous, daring & brave young man! A message of Hope - not in a bottle, but in a little yellow band!
|Mr. A407 - now 6 years old has lived to tell the tale of the Great Horned Owl on Gobbler's Knob.|
|Mr. C226 - 5 years old this season.|
|Mr. A673 - 6 years old as of 2017.|
They all seem to have adapted to the caging around the gourd racks, but it still makes it difficult to get a good picture with all the wire. Somehow, but we all seem to work around it.
|An adult female adds fresh green leaves to her nest.|
|"Is that your boy from last year, George"?|
|A young sub-adult male.|
As of today, we have not seen the owl in 11 nights. A friend from the PMCA forum has loaned me his "Dancing Man" and I am trying him out. I have him on a timer and change the settings for him to turn on and off at different times each night.
I've also deployed my 'hunting blind' from which I normally hunt English House Sparrows and Starlings, and I've been moving it around the yard every 2 nights. I purchased some solar yard lights and I recharge one every day and put it inside the blind each night, slightly unzipping the portals so the owl is sure to see the "evil eyes" staring her down if she tries to enter the yard. There is no way to tell yet what is being effective in keeping the owl away, but whatever the reason is, I am grateful for each night she does not come around and I'll just keep throwing out every thing I can think of to keep her away.