The ChirpyNest System
For Purple martins
During the 2015 season I spent many evenings contemplating and designing what I wanted to be the ideal Purple Martin house.
After much work and trial, I developed what I call the ChirpyNest hygienic nesting cavity. The first generation of this cavity system consisted of 20 - four compartment units offered to my martins spring of 2016. I also did a trial of the boxes in two other established locations in my area. Two of these locations were successful fledging young from the ChirpyNest boxes with one location having all 8 of 8 compartments offered, occupied and fledged young.
In addition to the four compartment houses, I made one single box from some extra pieces, adding it to my home colony. This box became one of the first units to be occupied in 2016, fledging 2 young from the two eggs laid. In my quest for the ultimate ‘house’ I didn’t even think of developing a single unit until I had a few extra parts. Once I did, I knew I needed to further develop the single units. In 2017 I offered the first single units to to the martins and they were readily used.
At my home colony, in 2017 I offered 6 Single units in place of six plastic gourds and expanded my colony using two - four compartment ChirpyNest boxes and 18 single ChirpyNest units on a new 24 unit deluxe gourd rack.
An identical setup with 26 ChirpyNest units was also added to Virginia Highlands community college colony in Abingdon Virginia. This colony was established in 2007 with aT-14 house. This expansion was successful well beyond expectations, attracting 16 pair successfully fledging 48 young, in addition to the 36 young fledged from the T-14. Five other ChirpyNest compartmentswere active but not successful hatching any eggs.
For the 2018 Purple Martin Breeding season I am making the Single - ChirpyNest boxes available for you to offer to your martins. I am also asking that you take part in the evaluation and success of the ChirpyNest system by reporting your thoughts and nesting results for the season using forms I will include with the boxes.
Explore the attributes and the highlights of the Patent Pending ChirpyNest hygienic nest system.
A DEEP NEST CAVITY
With a nesting surface five inches or more below the entrance bottom, I theorize that This allows the occupants to feel secure, tucked in and less likely to try and flee upon an owl attack. With the added weight of nest material and developing young, the nest cavity depth below the bottom of the entrance may increase to over six inches due to the intended change of balance of the box. .
With a distance of 12.75 inchesfrom entry, to back of the nest tray, the birds are safer from the long reach of great horned owls and less likely to try and flee when under attack. .
NON HORIZONTAL NESTING SURFACE
The use of a sloped nesting surface evolved from a modification I made to my T-14 house in 2004. It was then that I closed off the second from top compartment on each side and dropped the back of the top floor to rest on the second compartment floor, creating a deep compartment with a sloped floor. The T-14 became a T-10. These modified top compartments became the first claimed each year since. In theory this I think is more in tune with the natural woodpecker holes Martins historically used and the birds have an added sense of security. I designed my ChirpyNest housing with this in mind.
NEVER A WET NEST / SCREEN NESTING SURFACE.
I have had many Martin nests in every type of housing, get soaked in rainy and humid days. Drainage openings in gourds clog when the nest is built. Flat bottomed houses allow water to seep beneath the walls and that moisture is absorbed into the nest material. Once moisture gets into bedding, a nest has a very hard time drying out. From there conditions in the nest can quickly deteriorate.
By incorporating the screen bottom tray, the nest surface sits above the cavity bottom and since the cavity bottom is sloped, any moisture entering the cavity will drain to the back of the cavity and flow out of the compartment.
REMOVABLE NEST TRAY
I had never used nest trays in any of my housing but liked the concept and made removable nest trays an integral part of the ChirpyNest Hygienic nest system. The addition of the removable nest tray brings this convenient feature to a single, gourd type housing unit
FRONT ACCESS TO COMPARTMENTS
Front of compartment access makes nest checks much easier. Nest checks are faster and nest changes much easier.
INDIVIDUAL UNIT HOUSING
Martins really like individual units. Gourds have been the most used type of individual housing. The ChirpyNest single units expand on this by providing better access for nest checks and management. After building the four compartment ChirpyNest houses, I realized that the single units may be a better way to continue my quest for the Martin housing of the 21st century.
STARLING RESISTANT OPENINGS (SREH)
No martin housing should be sold today without Starling Resistant Entry Holes. While not 100% starling proof, SREH’s are the single most important advancement in purple Martin management in my lifetime. To have housing without SREH’s is inviting unnecessary stress to a colony.
INCREASED VENTILATION / COOLER CAVITY
The ChirpyNest system increases ventilation within the cavity. As air warms in the cavity, it rises and exits through the entrance and the two ventilation holes in the front panel. Outside air enters through the opening in the cavity bottomcreating a natural air flow throughout the Martin nest cavity.
Temperature studies using a dual max/min thermometer conducted during the past2017 nesting season showed the ChirpyNest single to be .5 to 3 degrees cooler than the air temperature and 1 to 4 degrees cooler than high grade plastic gourds.
EASY UP IN SPRING / EASY CLEAN UP IN FALL
The singles are designed to be hung on the 3/8inch arms for vertical gourds of the standard gourd racks. With that in mind it is easy to give martins a wide choice of housing on a single rack in order to evaluate the housing most suitable for the landlord. The units are adaptable to be mounted on many other racks but I have focused only on the deluxe type gourd racks to date.
To clean just dump the contents of the nest tray, brush the bottom and hose out if desired. The single units can be stacked for storage.
CAVITY WIDE OPENING AT BACK OF COMPARTMENT FOR VENTILATION, DRAINAGE AND PEST MANAGEMENT
This cavity wide opening provides drainage from the cavity and provides ventilation for the cavity. The combination of a screened bottom, a sloped cavity bottom and cavity wide opening at the back bottom of the cavity is the basis of the ChirpyNest Hygienic Nesting System. The system allows nest debris, parasites s/a blowfly larvae and water to fall through the screen bottom tray and exit the cavity by gravitational forces out the back opening of the cavity. In the first two seasons of use I have found that blowfly larvae will develop between the moist layers of leaves brought in during incubation. Many of these larvae will fall through the screen but the leaf layer provides security for these parasites and they don’t have to burrow to thebottom of the nest. However after the first nest change this leafy habitat is eliminated and infestations have been stopped. I attribute this reduction in blowfly larvae to a drier nest and less conducive habitat for development. With out the leafy layers the larvae burrow to the nest bottom where they fall through the screen and lose access to their host. I realize it is early in use to make claims to parasite control of organisms s/a blowfly, but I am encouraged by the results I have seen so far. I have been able to eliminate the need for a second nest change out with the ChirpyNest system. During nest checks the cavity below the nest tray is full of nest dander and debris which is easily pushed out the back of the cavity.
Discover the ChirpyNest Purple Martin Housing System