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Back from computer death; Birds updates; no pics

13 years ago

Our computer was in the shop for nearly two weeks so you were spared a lot of bird-related whining from up north! This was truly the most challenging and heartbreaking Purple Martin season I've ever experienced.

The premature jumpers continued to jump. I had three chicks from one gourd jumping out every time I turned around for three days. There was no reason I could discover. They were being fed; there were no mites; the temps were normal.

I had two other chicks from another gourd to jump once. I put these two in other nests; they stayed put, were fed, and fledged with their new nest mates.

Two of the first jumpers died. I haven't loaded the photos yet, but one had a deformed beak and really strange flight feathers; the shafts were exposed in the center of the feathers. I could not see any mites of "bugs" on him. His upper beak was thinner and shorter than the lower beak.

After a season free of any mite problems, three of the gourds were suddenly crawling with mites. Our weather had turned really hot, 104 and higher, and the humidity was unbelievable.

It was really too late in the chicks' development to risk nests changes but I had to do them anyway. Mites will kill the small chicks outright, and cause the bigger ones to jump out and die. New nesting material and a shot of Sevin solved the mite problems. There were no jumpers after the nest change.

The wrens in the cedar birdhouse had mites too; they got the same treatment and were clear the next day. Five of the six eggs hatched; all five wrenlets fledged. House wrens in general can be a pain in the patooty; but they're as cute as bugs. There's not one insect or worm on my giant tomato plants, thanks to the wrens' constant grooming of the plants.

I had 33 Purple Martin chicks. Two jumpers died while trying to fledge, so I'm saying I fledged 31 Purple Martins this season.

They've been coming back to the gourds every morning and "visiting" and chattering for a few hours. They were here yesterday, Aug. 11, but I know they'll be headed south very soon. They've not been here today, yet.

The Barnies are still sweeping the neighborhood, and chowing down on the egg shells and pullet oyster shell each afternoon. The hummingbirds are in full force, as are the Northern Orioles.

Bad Luck Bessie, my dedicated robin, finally fledged her first surviving chicks this week. Her first clutch of eggs, in my large maple, were eaten by red squirrels; the second clutch, in Margie's white spruce, was eaten by a grackle; she abandoned the third nest, in my smaller back-yard white spruce, and finally managed to raise this group. I thought she had given up; I don't know where she hid this nest.

The neighbor and I have relocated 19 red squirrels, and our block is still crawling with them.

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