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The Purple Martin Colony at the Great Plains Nature Center in 2003

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

This web page records the progress of our Purple Martin colony in 2003.
For a sequence of pictures from a typical nesting season, see the reports for May, June and July 2000.

Summary for 2003

July 8 - We consider our nesting season over.  We raised no martins this year.  Hopefully the educated starlings will not be here next spring.

June 23 - For two successive weeks now, we have had no evidence of any further interest in nesting by the martins.  We are sad to say that we will apparently raise no martins this year.  The starlings are no longer nesting either, so at least we no longer have to clean out their nests from the gourds.

June 9 - Two more starling nests this week and (still) no evidence of martin nests!  The martins are seldom seen around the nesting structure.  If this persists for another week, we will probably plug up the gourds and forget it for this year.  It would sure be nice if we could come up with a dependable way to capture these "educated" starlings.

June 2 - Nests 1 had a starling nest in it, with eggs.  Nests 6, 7 & 8 had excessive nesting material, indicative of starlings.  No more progress has been made with the martin nests.  This has been a very bad year for our colony so far.  Hopefully they have not given up on us.

May 27 - Nests 8 and 5 both had starling nests in them, with eggs.  So far we still have no martin eggs.

May 19 - Nest 6 has joined 5 and 7 as complete, having fresh elm leaves in it.  Nests 1 and 8 look like they may have "too much" nest material in them.  We'll be watching those to see if they are being patronized by starlings.  We had no luck (again) setting the starling trap in nest 2.   There were no eggs this week.  We have had a cool spring so far, and the birds may be waiting for warmer weather.

May 12 - Nest 5 and 7 are complete; with the nest bowl lined with fresh elm leaves.  Nest 3 did not have a repeat of the sparrow activity - indeed, martins have been seen using it and it now has a partial nest in it.  Nest 2 has had some starling activity, but no nest building.  We set the trap again to see if we have any luck with it this year.   Five nests show partial construction and one has a complete nest, missing only the green leaves.  We should have eggs next week!

May 5 - Nest 3 had a large wad of nesting material from the sparrow interlopers of April, but no eggs.   The colony is very active with martins perched atop and in the entrances of all eight gourds.  None of the other gourds has a well-developed nest in it and one is empty altogether.

April - After we opened up our nest gourds, we had trouble right from the start with starlings.   We removed starling nests twice.  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.  One starling nest had progressed to having 6 eggs in it!  (The black rat snake in our lobby terrarium enjoyed them!)   Later in the month, nest 3 had sparrows patronizing it.  But either they gave up or the martins evicted them.

March 26 - Our first purple martin of 2003 was seen on the nesting structure.  We did not see them much for the next two weeks.

Here is the summary for 2003.

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


Partial Nest Partial Nest SPARROWS! Partial Nest Partial Nest Empty Partial Nest Partial Nest


Partial Nest Partial Nest Partial Nest Partial Nest Complete Nest Almost Complete Nest Complete Nest Partial Nest


Partial Nest Partial Nest Partial Nest Partial Nest Complete Nest Complete Nest Complete Nest Partial Nest


Partial Nest Partial Nest Partial Nest Partial Nest Starlings! Complete Nest Complete Nest Starlings!


Starlings! Empty Empty Partial Nest Empty Too much material Too much material Too much material


Empty Empty Empty Partial Nest Empty Starlings! Starlings! Empty


Empty Empty Empty Abandoned Nest Empty Empty Empty Empty


Empty Empty Empty Abandoned Nest Empty Empty Empty Empty

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