Yesterday Nancy and Sandy rescued 3 young Purple Martin nestlings from a nest that appeared to be neglected by parent birds. One youngster had died and the 3 remaining alive were well underweight for their age. After a feeding we left the heaviest bird in the nest box to see how it made out – whether the parents or a parent was feeding it – and Nancy took the other two home with her for supplemental feeding and rehydration.
This afternoon, about 24 hours after the rescue, we checked the bird in the box and reweighed all three to se how they were doing. Whereas the birds yesterday were pretty unresponsive and weak, the two that Nancy had taken home to feed were quite alert and energetic, especially the larger of the two; both had gained weight – only 0.25 grams but still a gain and they were energetic. You can clearly see this in the videos below. However, the bird that had been returned to the nest box was quite lethargic and unresponsive and had lost weight – over a full gram. This was very concerning so we decided to take this bird from the nest and give it supplemental feeding as well. Interestingly, this latter bird seemed to be infested with feather mites unlike its two siblings – we saw one of the latter actively preening which may have been a factor in this. Was the bird left in the box now too weak to preen and reduce its parasite load?
We will keep you up to date on what happens to these youngsters. Nancy will be feeding them about every half hour. Here’s their weights:
Yesterday at 1230:
#1 (the one left in the nestbox) – 42.6 g.
#2 41.7 g.
#3 (the runt) 28.2 g.
Today at 1300:
Today at 2000 (the feeding is paying off):
#1 43.35 g.
#2 42.65 g.
#3 29.5 g.
First, here is a video of the two birds who were rescued yesterday. Note how quickly they respond by opening their beaks when they hear the purple martin calls from an ipod.
In contrast to the rescued birds, here is the “control” bird in the nestbox. Note how unresponsive it is.
Again, here is the “control” bird, but once we moved him to the banding lab. Again, note how lethargic he is.