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The Purple Martin Colony at the Great Plains Nature Center in 2002

Up May 2000 nest visits June 2000 nest visits July 2000 nest visits 2001 Martins 2002 Martins 2003 Martins

This web page recorded the progress of our Purple Martin colony in 2002.
For a sequence of pictures from a typical nesting season, see the reports for May, June and July 2000.

Summary for 2002

August 6 - All the nests have fledged their birds.  Our colony fledged 14 martins this year.  However, we know one of those did not survive because we found it dead on the ground, so our total was reduced to 13.

The martins hung around the colony for a few days after the last birds fledged and spent most of their time foraging.  They will probably be gathering with other martins for the trip south soon.

We will be watching around town for the migratory flocks to form in the next month, and look forward to hosting the colony again next year!

July 30 - FLEDGING DAY!  The four birds in Nest 1 fledged today.  One was on the ground when the nests were checked.  It was put back in the nest, but took off again along with one of its nestmates when the colony was hoisted back up, so today is the day!  Nest 7 should be empty within the next few days also.

July 22 - The five babies in Nest 8 fledged last week.  One of the babies in Nest 1 died, leaving four to go there.   We have had some really hot weather, so maybe that was what did it in.  The five babies in Nest 7 are doing fine.  We expect the babies in Nest 1 to fledge within the next week.   Nest 7 will soon follow.

July 15 - The five babies in Nest 8 are just about ready to go.   Somehow the lone egg in Nest 2 disappeared and no new nest material is being added, so that pair has apparently decided to quit for this year.  The ten nestlings in Nest 1 and Nest 7 are doing fine.

July 1 - No change from last week.   Our nestlings are getting bigger, but no new eggs have been laid.  Nest 2 is sitting on her egg even though she only has one!

June 24 - We have replaced our lowering rope with a nylon-coated steel cable with a padlock on it.  Our birds are determined to re-nest.  Nest 1 laid 5 new eggs, nest 2 laid one egg and nest 7 laid 5 eggs.  Our starlings have apparently given up, so that is good news too!

June 11 - We had an unbelievable experience when we checked the colony this week.  Vandals had lowered the nests and stolen the eggs in every gourd but one.  As if the starlings were not enough trouble, we apparently will have to contend with malicious people as well.  They also tried to take down our other house that is styled like the GPNC building, but it cannot be lowered with the rope only, so they failed.  We will be modifying the system to lock it up so only we can monitor the colony in the future.  Wish us luck.

June 5 - We now have 20 martin eggs in our colony.   Our starlings are very determined.  The pair in #6 not only completely rebuilt their nest in a week, but laid three eggs and were incubating them!  We hope to have baby martins next week.

May 29 - We now have two gourds with eggs and two others with complete nests  This week we had to throw out two starling nests!  Incubation takes 15 to 18 days, so we should have babies in a couple weeks or so!

May 23 - Our first positive nest check!  We found two nests with martin eggs in them.  We have had a late spring this year, with a lot of cool, damp weather.   The nesting progress in the colony has been the slowest we have seen.

April - After we opened up our nest gourds, we had trouble right from the start with starlings.   We removed starling nests several times.  A starling nest is easy to recognize since it has LOTS more material than a martin nest, and the eggs are blue rather than white.   The eggs are also larger than martin eggs.  Once we let the situation go on for too long and took out a batch of baby starlings along with the nest material!  (Our snakes enjoyed them anyway!)  We have had no luck trying to trap them.

March 26 - Our first purple martins of 2002 are seen on the nesting structure.  We promptly open up the gourds so they can inspect the premises!

Here is the summary for 2002.

Date Nest 1 Nest 2 Nest 3 Nest 4 Nest 5 Nest 6 Nest 7 Nest 8


4 eggs Partial Nest 2 eggs Partial Nest STARLINGS! Partial Nest Partial Nest a few sticks


6 eggs Complete Nest 4 eggs Partial Nest EMPTY STARLINGS! STARLINGS! Complete Nest


6 eggs 3 eggs 4 eggs 2 eggs EMPTY STARLINGS! a few sticks 5 eggs


All eggs stolen by vandals

EMPTY EMPTY a few sticks 5 eggs


5 eggs

1 egg Partial Nest Partial Nest EMPTY EMPTY 5 eggs 5 nestlings


5 eggs

1 egg Partial Nest Partial Nest EMPTY EMPTY 5 eggs 5 nestlings


5 nestlings

Partial Nest Partial Nest EMPTY EMPTY 5 nestlings 5 nestlings-
ready to fledge


4 nestlings
1 dead

Partial Nest Partial Nest EMPTY EMPTY 5 nestlings All gone!


4 nestlings
fledge today

Partial Nest Partial Nest EMPTY EMPTY 5 nestlings-
ready to fledge
All gone!


All gone! Partial
Partial Nest Partial Nest EMPTY EMPTY All gone! All gone!


Questions or comments?  Send Email to Jim Mason Spidey
Or write us at: 
Great Plains Nature Center
6232 E. 29th Street North
Wichita, KS 67220-2200             Call:  316-683-5499            Fax:  316-688-9555