Miley (CAS Senior Director of Science and Conservation Milan Bull) decided to check our Purple Martin gourd tree at Stratford Point this morning to see if the pair we have been seeing a lot of had a nest and eggs. It is the perfect time for martins to be on eggs right now, as you can always see live at Gazebo Phil's Martin Acres by the Sea: http://gazebophil.com/
Today I saw three Purple Martins flying about Stratford Point, and in the last few weeks I have watched our pair and occasionally one or two more feeding all day long, going in and out of the gourds. I even observed them carrying some nesting material on a couple of occasions. Anyway, after he had reeled the tree down we took a gander in to each of the gourds, unscrewing the top to check them out. A couple had a little more nesting material than the pine needles we had put inside to assist them, but there were no Purple Martin nests. Hmph!
What we did find almost instantly was this Tree Swallow nest and one egg!
We frequently seem them flying around, often landing on the poles, but these birds could be nesting somewhere else nearby and feeding here, simply moving through our area for some reason, or young birds that are not ready to nest. It turns out they are using the gourds...and I say "gourds" plural because this other gourd had a big Tree Swallow nest (note all the feathers) and five eggs (buried underneath all).
Wow! Miley had never seen Tree Swallows nesting in gourds, and in this case, these two nests are the start of a mini colony. Hey, we may have been going for Purple Martins, but we will take it.
photos © Scott Kruitbosch and not to be reproduced without explicit