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Life inside a Purple Martin nest

Inside this painted white gourd, one in an ‘apartment complex’ of gourds, a young Purple Martin family grows from eggs to fledglings. During this Livestream summary from the Erie, Pennsylvania-based Purple Martin Conservation Association, we can peek at what it’s like inside their nest. They wrote:

2019 was a great year for our livestream nest, but not without drama. As you see in the video, we encountered a “capped egg”, subadult martins causing problems, a nestling whose airway was blocked by a large dragonfly, a near miss by a hungry Cooper’s Hawk, and a House Wren intent on pecking the nestlings. Such is life for the Purple Martin, a struggle to survive in the face of habitat loss, predators, and competition.

parent purple martins with eggs
young birds
leaving the gourd

Some background from The Cornell Lab’s

Putting up a Purple Martin house is like installing a miniature neighborhood in your backyard. In the East, dark, glossy-blue males and brown females will peer from the entrances and chirp from the rooftops all summer. In the West, martins mainly still nest the old-fashioned way—in woodpecker holes. Our largest swallows, Purple Martins perform aerial acrobatics to snap up flying insects. At the end of the breeding season they gather in big flocks and make their way to South America…

Native Americans hung up empty gourds for the Purple Martin before Europeans arrived in North America. Purple Martins in eastern North America now nest almost exclusively in birdhouses, but those in the West use mostly natural cavities.

Read more about the purple martin’s life history. The association also has student/teacher resources.

Watch these videos next: a mother blackbird feeds brand new baby birds in their nest, Studying the oak, caterpillar, great tit food chain, and a Kiwi chick hatches from an egg at Auckland Zoo.

Plus, more about bird eggs and nests, including How Birds Get Oxygen Inside Their Eggs.

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