Thanks to my computer guru, who shall remain nameless, but whose blog you can read here, I have added a slide show to the side bar. This is the story of how those photos came to be.
This year, I had a surprise nest of Purple Martins here ---
in a Super Gourd on a shepherd's hook about 5 feet off the ground. The Purple Martins who live here either didn't read the rules that martins like to nest 10-15 ft in the air or else were desperate for a place to call their own.
Originally, this gourd was supposed to house Tree Swallows, who elected to use the wooden nest box I had planned as a trap for House Sparrows. When they rejected the plastic gourd, it was used to trap an unwelcomed starling. After I removed the starling, a young (SY = Second Year) Purple Martin took it over and sang diligently for days on end, hoping for a bride. The season was getting on and all the other martins had eggs or nestlings, while Mr. Lonely Heart was still single.
I pitied the poor guy. Purple Martin colonies tend to have more males than females, and it is not unusual for young bachelors to spend their first summer alone, but that doesn't stop me from feeling sorry for them.
One day, I peeked into the gourd and found a nest with eggs. Surprise, surprise! Mr. Lonely Heart had found himself a girl after all, and they were working on a family.
Because this gourd is low and easy to inspect, I have been taking pictures nearly every day since hatching, and have put them together in a slide show.
You may notice there are 4 eggs, and on Hatch Day, you can see three hatchlings and a pipped egg. What you can't see is that the embryo in the fourth egg didn't make it. On closer examination, the eggshell was really thick and heavy, which is why (I assume) the chick couldn't get out.
I still have about 4 more days that I can inspect the nest and take photos before the young get too close to fledging, so I will add more shots as I take them. The adults shown are not the ones who belong to this nest, and I hope to add photos of SY adults and HY (Hatch Year) juveniles to make the show complete.