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Questions From Our Visitors

Q: I am watching the process of mite treatment. As a wild bird rehabber, my arriving birds are covered with mites to the point of being anemic. All are treated upon arrival. The gourd camera looks pretty good to me, it appears to be the same as before. -- ginger r., Union,KY

A: I'm glad someone was able to watch the treatment in action! We are doing the best we can without subjecting them to harsh chemicals. The situation has improved and hopefully will continue to.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: I am so happy to watch the 4 hatchlings. You are right about seeing the growth daily. Is there still a chance that the 5th egg will hatch? -- OLIVIA F., FAIRFIELD,USA

A: There was not and it was very likely not viable from the beginning meaning there was never a tiny baby bird growing inside of it. Thankfully we have four healthy hatchlings at the moment.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: We have three hatchlings this morning!!! in Branford, CT. -- Maryanne H., Branford,CT

A: Fantastic! Ours are on the same schedule and our cam gourd pair hatched on June 24. It will certainly be a warm first week for the hatchlings.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: I count 5 eggs inn the back of the nest. -- OLIVIA F., Fairfield,USA

A: Thank you for the observations along with everyone else who sent us so much data in the past few weeks. This seems to be the final count this year for the cam gourd pair.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: As of June 8, 7"30 p.m. we have 53 eggs in our 14 occupied Martin nests, plus one that has rolled out or placed out of the central nest. We have 2 nests occupied by sparrows, which I remove weekly. Some of our nests have just 2 or 3 eggs, so I am hoping for more. I hope that better weather will now bring more food for the Martins! We have a nest-cam now, thanks to Phil's suggestion. It is not focused quite correctly, but is thrilling to watch! -- Maryanne H., Branford,CT

A: That's fantastic to hear! We hope those nests filled out with eggs once the weather changed a bit and that you enjoy watching your Purple Martins as much as we enjoy watching this colony.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: I see the eggs have arrived. So happy since the birds had cold weather there for awhile. I can't wait for them to hatch. -- Karen R., Anderson,SC

A: Neither can we! Our area experienced average temperatures in May and now, as usual in the past several years, above-average temperatures in June. However, we have had a lot of rain with totals far above normal values. The immediate future in the latter half of June should be seasonable in all regards and help protect the eggs.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: Hi Gazebo Phil! Your website is awesome. I have one question for you. I know sometimes young birds accidentally fall out of nests. If your martins fall out, how do you know what nest to put them back in? How do you know which gourd belongs to what family? If you put the wrong bird back in a nest, what will the family do with the strange bird? Will they care for it as their own, or abandon it? Thanks! -- kerri , attleboro,MA

A: It is extremely rare for any Purple Martin to fall out of a gourd without it being nearly ready or completely ready to fledge. I cannot recall a single instance of a bird falling out of a gourd otherwise at Martin Acres by the Sea. The colony and gourds are well built and the parents are very fit.

I do remember having a fledgling fall out on the ground right as we were about to band them all a couple of years ago. We looked through the gourds on the side of the tree that it came from and were able to find the family by matching up the development of the bird to its siblings. Alternatively, one could watch for a parent to come and attend to the bird that has fallen and then follow that parent back to the gourd they fly to - that would be the chick's home.

Finally, all of our gourds are also labeled and after the birds are banded we can easily tell which young one belongs to which home.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: did the gourd camera get moved? yesterday there was nothing much in the gourd...today it is full! -- holly j., lakeville,MN

A: Yes, we decided to switch the gourd camera over to another one that had a nest nearly completed, an easy and quick swap that can be done during normal nest checks. This way we will have a family to watch starting very soon.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: This is a wonderful website! It is a great surprise to have 2 views as well as the sound! Thanks so much for the rare view into a Purple Martin's life! Have a nice day. Sincerely, Diane Cichowski -- Diane C., Attleboro,MA

A: We hope you enjoy it all summer Diane! There will be a lot of action coming up soon as the birds have nearly completed their nests. Egg watch will be underway shortly followed by raising the little ones and then a fledge to end the summer. Thank you for the kind words and for tuning in!

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: It looks like your gourds have extra holes for ventilation. Did they come with extra holes or did you drill those in? I know it can get very hot in summer and I worry the parents and nestlings may be overwhelmed by the heat. Our gourds have no extra holes for ventilation. Am now wondering if it would be a good idea to drill some holes in the bottom of each gourd. What do you think? -- Lisa C., Wichita,USA

A: The holes in the bottom of the gourds serve primarily for drainage (for example, in case rain is getting inside the entrance hole) and do also help with ventilation. Ours are manufactured this way. Depending on local climate it may be a good idea to purchase gourds made this way or, if possible, imitate it by creating some yourself.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: Do you ever move the camera? Not looking so good so far this year. -- M C D., Massachusetts,USA

A: Keep watching! I have seen birds in the cam gourd from time to time and it is early in the season. Pairs typically fill every gourd at Gazebo Phil's but it takes time for them to arrive, choose a home, and sometimes to argue over them.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: Glad to have you back live. Thank you so much for your dedication.....and for sharing the excitement and the view as the purple martins return for another season. -- Mary A D., Whiting,NJ

A: We thank you for your dedication along with all of our viewers! It may be a little slower to start this year but the action will be picking up very soon.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: We received a scout arrival report from a landlord in Guilford, CT - earlier than he expected to see any back. We thought you'd enjoy the news - wishing you a great martin season. Louise Chambers PMCA -- Louise C., Erie,PA

A: Thank you Louise, and we wish all of our viewers and Purple Martin enthusiasts a wonderful season. Enjoy the birds and spread the word!

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: 2 scouts arrived Monday 4/8 - very tired. -- Maryanne H., Branford,USA

A: That was a relatively early date if that is Connecticut considering the tough weather conditions this April. We hope they were able to rest up and feed through the last couple of rainy cold days, but that is the risk the earliest birds take every year in order to get their choice of nesting location.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: I have a purple martin house that I would like to put up this spring. I last had it up several years ago when it was over run with house sparrows when I was living in Newington, CT. Now that I am living in Old Saybrook I would like to put up the house as soon as the purple martins return. I will be tracking their movement on Ebird but can you give me an idea of when to expect them? Thank you -- James T., OLD SAYBROOK,USA

A: Mid-April is a good rule of thumb for expecting Purple Martins back in Connecticut. This year we followed the historic dates more closely than recent years where above-average temperatures have allowed them to return even near April 1.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: So, are there unfledged families now, the day after? Or are these birds that have been left behind? I see birds returning to a few gourds in particular, are there families in there? If so, will they fledge and catch up with the rest or will they be on their own all the way to S.A.? -- phillip s., nyc,NY

A: There are many families of many ages at Gazebo Phil's. During banding we still had two nests with four eggs. These birds will be cared for by their parents until they are fully fledged and able to function on their own. This will happen at different dates over the next month, but most of them are already set to go and ready to start heading south soon. All of them have plenty of time to get to South America.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: The gourd looks so empty. I guess they will not be coming back? I saw the last one jump after dark. Where are they now? Are they still in the area being trained to hunt? -- Marilyn B., Greer,SC

A: There will probably be birds back in the gourd. They might be young from another gourd, some from this gourd, or eventually most likely mom and dad before they head off for fall migration. We have been seeing birds from other gourds in there already in the last week. They would take occasional trips out during the day, but now they seem to be set to take on the world. These fledglings are still in a nearby area and are learning how to hunt and fend for themselves.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: I thought they would be back to the nest. This is my first year watching this Gazebo Phil. Right now I am experiencing Empty Nest Syndrome. Thanks for all your work. Linda -- Linda C., Osage Beach,MO

A: The young ones will find nearby places to spend the night, but you may see mom and dad back to the nest. At times maybe a fledged bird will stop by, but for the most part we will have to enjoy catching glimpses of them hunting or relaxing by the gourds on the outside camera.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: 7-11-12...I see five chicks in the nest now. What gives. One of them has wing feathers that reach the tip of the tail...did it find it's way into the wrong nest? It's definitely not Mom or Dad. Unusual? -- J A., Kansas city,MO

A: At this point of the season there are many fledged birds hanging out in different gourds all over the colony and elsewhere in the general area. Think of them as visiting neighbors. Perhaps this young bird will be looking for a free meal from these parents because its own stopped taking care of it since it is of the age to feed itself.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: Looking at the babies today, they are huge! Getting crowded in the nest. You are banding them today. When do you think fledging will be? Thanks - really enjoy watching this spectacle each year. -- Barbara R., milford,CT

A: They are getting very big, and your answer came early on July 6 as fledging started in our cam gourd. It had commenced in the other gourds as we noted while we were banding. We also probably had a few leave other nests before the July 5 banding date. This was a bit earlier than last year.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: I am a wildbird rehabilitator in Kentucky and have noticed some mite like insects crawling around the birds. Are they on the birds or on the camera lens? Most of our rehab birds arrive with mites and we do treat them but in the case of your Martins that would not be feasible because of the volume and location of the birds. -- Ginger R., Union,KY

A: There are a few mites in a handful of our gourds, but the problem is not overly significant. We also do not have blowflies or any other dangerous parasites. With the advanced age of most of the chicks there is no need to change any nests, a step we would only take if there was a large problem or if we noted mortality due to the mites. It is a very isolated problem, thankfully.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: What is the hight of the gourd racks?It looks like one is a couple feet higher than the other.Also do you lower the racks if high wind is forcasted? -- mike t., beaver dam,KY

A: Both our gourd trees are at the same height, and the appearance is only a trick of the camera angle. They are about 18 feet at the top. They are incredibly strong and do not sway much, and only in the case of a major event such as a hurricane would we consider moving them.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: I can still see an egg. What is the % of eggs that don't hatch? -- Lee D., Rowley,USA

A: The percentage of eggs that do not hatch is around 15% in our experience. Once hatched we have around a little greater than 80% fledgling rate, meaning about four out of five chicks survive after hatching to leave the gourd and become independent juveniles.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: In Texas our Martins are gone July 4th. We have had 2 nests of babies hatching very late in the season (June 16th) Do you suspect the parents will leave with the colony or stay back a little longer to fledge their new young? -- Rick H., Dallas,TX

A: Those parents will stay with the young until they are all set to function on their own. They will not depart if their chicks have yet to fledge. They will then wait until they have the ability to hunt and feed themselves.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: How many of the gourds are the birds nesting in? Do they return each year to the same one? -- M-C D., Rowley,USA

A: Nearly all of the gourds you see are filled with a Purple Martin pair. The vast majority of these gourds will have a pair that creates a nest and produces eggs, and many young will be hatching in mid-June, possibly as many as 200 or so! Many residents return to Martin Acres by the Sea each year, though they do not select the exact same home.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: Hatched! What a surprise to see a little white head moving when mom stood up! -- Kim C., Wethersfield,CT

A: Yes indeed, a quick hatching and a nice surprise to those of us who tuned in that beautiful Saturday. The parents were attending to them instantly, keeping them warm and fed. We may not get all the best views now while they are so tiny but we will see plenty of them soon enough.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: Hi Gazebo Phil! Quick question... Are purple martins on the endangered species list? Is there a law protecting them or their nesting sites? If not, there should be! -- kerri c., Attleboro,MA

A: All bird species native to the U.S. are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Additionally, Purple Martins are classified as "threatened" under the Connecticut Endangered Species Act. They are protected in all regards.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: Since the eggs were laid one a day, will they hatch one a day? -- J A., Kansas City,MO

A: No, the eggs hatch relatively quickly after one another, for the most part in a 24-hour period. This keeps them all at about the same stage of development, making it easier for the little ones and the parents.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: How long does it usually take for the eggs to hatch? I'm really looking forward to seeing the babies! -- Libby H., Saint Louis,MO

A: We should be watching for hatching in the teens of June. It can vary a little based on the conditions, but keep your eyes to the cam then!

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: OK, while I just learned about and have been enjoying the webcam(s) this afternoon/evening, I'm a bit concerned about the light in the nest in the gourd ... can't the poor bird get some DARK?? why do you have to have that bright light turned on her all the time, even at night, when she should be getting proper darkness to sleep??? It can affect her melatonin & all sorts of other things levels .... cruel and unusual punishment, if you ask me. you should have a timer on it to turn off at night. -- CYNTHIA B., SEBRING,USA

A: This is a common question, and our cameras are actually small, quiet, and cool to the touch advanced infrared units. Birds, like humans, cannot see infrared light and are not affected by it in the slightest. If they were, they would not be nesting in this gourd. If you were standing under the gourds at night, you would never know which one had the camera in it, as they would all be dark.

We can see the nest and birds because a chip in the camera converts the streaming images to visible light. This is also why we do not have the full color spectrum at night. In the daytime, and when the nest is not blocking some of the light of the camera, it switches automatically to visible light. Everything we do is for the birds, and they are quite safe and comfortable.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: We live in Veracruz, Panama right on a bay by the Pacific Ocean. Our house must be in the flight path of the migrating Purple Martins because we have seen them here in our yard. We were in the pool one day in Sept 2010 and started seeing these birds diving and swirling and acting like Purple Martins. So I took a few pictures whenever I could and I'll be darned they were Purple Martins. We called the Audubon Society here in Panama and they had never seen this and said that they were going to send someone over. We never saw anyone and never heard back but the sight was fantastic. We witnessed it again in 2011 but with not as many birds as the 1st year. We have not seen any on the return flight in March or April. My neighbor who has kids turned me on to your site today. Fabulous site. I'll let you know if I see them again. -- Joe P., Veracruz Panama,USA

A: Purple Martins travel all the way to South America and back each year, mostly wintering in Brazil, and it sounds like you are indeed in the flight path. Try watching earlier in the year to see birds heading back north. Thank you for the awesome story and please keep an eye out for any color banded birds you see! One of these very martins could fly by your house later this year while heading south from Connecticut.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: Dear GazeboPhil, What a wonderful website- the webcam inside the gourd, the exterior, and the banding of the babies. I live in Western Montana where, unfortunately, one does not see Purple Martins, so I wanted to say thanks for making this experience possible. Thank you! Phyllis -- PHYLLIS W., Missoula,MT

A: We thank you and all of our viewers around the world for tuning in. Please follow us through the end of the summer so that you can enjoy every aspect of their lives. It only gets more exciting from here on out!

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: Where did you get the gourd structures? And are purple martins messy. We have a common area in our development with two ponds, which I think would be ideal. However, I don't want to suggest this to the homeowners' association without an answer. We live with Canada Geese, and they are enough of a mess. Thanks! -- Sue P., Dayton,OH

A: The gourd structures came from: http://purplemartin.org/shop/

Purple Martins are relatively clean. If you visited Gazebo Phil's you would see some seaweed, pine needles, and straw scattered across the ground under the gourd trees, all bits left from building nests. You will also see parts of dragonflies and other insects from previous meals, especially when it comes time to feed the young. However, all of this is light and very isolated to the area near the gourds, and their presence is well worth it.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: Is it possible to adjust the inside camera back to its original position? It is too close now and all I see are pine needles & feathers. Thank you. -- Cecile , Toronto,ON

A: The camera hasn't moved but the huge nest sure has! As the martins have built it up to a larger size it has shifted and gone up the wall of the gourd a little bit. We will take care of that problem before any eggs appear so that we can see and they can be left alone to incubate and care for them.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: you obviously do not have problems with starlings.whats with the round entrances on your gourds? -- Robert D., Forest,ON

A: The entrances are perfectly made for just the right Purple Martin size, and with such a large colony positioned directly on the water the starlings would have a tough time getting in or causing trouble. The many martins know how to keep the occasional intruder away.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: Are the pine needles in the gourd what you put in or did the martins? Here in Iowa I always put a big handful of needles in each nest. They spin it into more of a nesting bowl to keep warm on the cold nights. Thanks for the video site. We enjoy checking in a couple times a day to see your birds. Monday night with that wind holwing and just one martin shivvering in the gourd I wished I could have covered it with a blanket. -- Randy A., Arnolds Park,IA

A: We place a small amount of pine needles in each gourd when they are erected each spring. They have a abundant supply of nesting material to collect on their own, and we allow them to do most of this work. The gourds always end up quite full and warm for the nestlings as can be seen in our success rate of 185 chicks old enough to be banded in 2011. It has been chilly as of late and they have been doing a bit of shivering, but for the most part the Connecticut coast stays warm and nearly always far above freezing from mid-April onward.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: I have been following the Purple Martins for a couple of years on your site. I am smitten with them and would love to assist with their advancement and help any way I can. With regards, Theresa Simpson -- Theresa R., Harrison,USA

A: The best way to help Purple Martins is to set up your own gourd tree or similar martin housing in an acceptable habitat. The best place would be an open area near water. Otherwise, we suggest spreading the word about their plight as a species, how much they depend on us for their survival, and educating the next generation by using this beautiful species as an example of conservation.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



Q: Has there been a study on dark verses light nest cavities? -- mike t., beaver dam,KY

A: If you are referring to the color of the gourds themselves they are made a light color to keep the inside cooler during hot summer days. A dark gourd would mean much warmer temperatures that could harm eggs or young nestlings.

Scott Kruitbosch - Conservation Technician



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