New Deluxe Heath Gourd Review: Hero or Zero?

March 16th, 2018

Heath products have a history of offering purple martin items that are eerily similar to existing products. So, when we saw the new Heath Deluxe Purple Martin gourd, we were not surprised that it looked familiar. Heath also markets a hexagon shaped aluminum Purple Martin house that looks nearly identical to the trio castle made famous by the late J.L.Wade, made famous in the 1960′s by being the first manufacturer of mass produced purple martin houses.

The new Heath Deluxe gourd seems to tic off some of the requirements of what purple martins need at first glance but a deeper dive gives us important info that we thought we should pass on.

Item specs:

Opening: 3″W x 1.25″H SREH
Dimensions: 16″L x 9.5″W x 14″H
Mounting: may be hung
Construction: plastic
Brand: Heath Mfg
Item Number: HMC-PMG-2
Shipping Weight: 5 lbs

Reg:  $32.99

Your Price: $29.99

 

 

 

First, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, the SREH crescent entrances are too large and WILL NOT keep out starlings!  SREH entrances are a finicky thing. Just a hair off, and you might as well not even have them. These crescent entrances though crescent in shape serve no purpose, similar to other Heath gourds that tout an SREH entrance, but do nothing to keep out starlings.

The access port in the back,  makes its intended purpose, virtually impossible. How are you supposed to do a nest check with the access port at the back of the gourd? Quality gourds have the access ports on the side so a simple tilt of your body will allow you to have a full view of the contents of your gourd. These will only work if you plan on removing the gourd from your rack every time you do a nest check.

The plastic is of unknown quality (made in China) and allows for lots of light and heat to enter the gourd. I am curious if the plastic has UV inhibitors (like a quality gourd does) to prevent the gradual break down of plastics that occurs when exposed to sunlight.

The supposed owl guards pop off easily in your hand and if any body has ever seen a greater horned owl in all of its (three pound) glory, will know that hey would rip them off in short order.

Not every thing is bad about these gourds. The depth is comparable to a Troyer vertical gourd, it has an outside AND inside porch, and the entrance height is correct. Also, the horizontal and vertical hanging/ventilation holes on the neck of the gourd make for convenient hanging options (if you are unable to drill a hole). Unfortunately for an item completely made and packaged in China, the 29.99 (on sale) price point is much higher than this item deserves. When you consider that the Troyer horizontal and vertical gourds sell for less, are better products, and are made in the states, it is hard to rationalize the added expense for a sub par product.

In short, since we cannot recommend this product, we will not be selling this product in our store. Our vote? ZERO…

DISCLAIMER:

We received NO compensation from ANY company for publishing this review.

A Rare Case of Invasive Species Helping Out

November 29th, 2017

In this great article by the NY Times, it tells us of the Florida Snail Kite evolving in spectacular fashion to take advantage of invasive snails that are over running the everglades. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/science/birds-beaks-evolution-snails.html

Snake Netting DIY Must Do!

March 28th, 2017

Facebook (in general) can be a good source for information. The multiple groups that gather people with similar interests can be a great way to learn from others. Yesterday I found a great description of how to easily and effectively add snake netting (aka bird netting) to your martin housing to prevent snake predation.

Anyone that has been in martins long enough should know that a snake can EASILY climb up ANY pole. There is no pole a snake cant climb people. There are only a few reasons why you may not have had this happen to you yet. 1. You don’t have martins. 2. You didn’t see it happen, but it did. 3. It’s about ready to happen. So is it really worth the heartache? Nope.

Our thanks to Robert I. for the following:

I’ve had a lot of questions about my snake netting and custom supports, so here you go. Each tuft has a full 14 foot roll of netting in it used FULL width. The supports are both flat bar and angled aluminum stock with holes drilled in each to be able to zip tie the netting. Then zip tied at top and bottom to seal the tuft into the neat ball shape. An animal cannot stand on the supports. They are on edge and/or cut to bend down and give way at any extra weight. Just heavy enough to support the netting and nothing else. I do put swinging EZ off guards above them once birds are here. I cannot poke a finger fully in without it getting stuck anywhere in the tuft. Hope it helps someone. Overkill? Hell yes! I’m extremely OCD on things. Have to look and perform the way I want them too, no matter the cost or effort. I’m my own worst critic. Each one of these took a full 5 hours to create start to finish. There are 3 inch square, 2 inch square and round poles included in pics. The tufts are large and just dense enough. The brackets above them will later raise to support my swinging EZ off predator guards.

Our sincere thanks to Robert I. for allowing us to post these photos.

Starlings Breaching SREH

March 20th, 2016

Most people know that Starling RESISTANT Entrance Holes (SREH) do NOT mean starling PROOF. Though uncommon, starlings have been known to occasionally breech SREH. Once a starling breeches an entrance, it is even more important to dispatch the invasive bird. The fear by most is that smaller starlings that can enter a SREH could possibly breed and create more smaller starlings, and over the course of some years with the help of natural selection, the benefits of SREH would be made obsolete. This would be as tragic and possibly as devestating for the modern day martin as bringing in these pest birds to North America in the first place.

Of course, some SREH are more restrictive that others and most breeches have been reported with the less restrictive entrances like a simple crescent or a Conley II entrance. The more restrictive, the less likely a starling can get past it. So a more restrictive SREH like an Excluder entrance would be much safer.

One well known fix for the problem of starlings getting in through a SREH, is raising the floor (or lowering the entrance) as many houses use SREH that are placed much to far up. The bottom of a Staring Resistant Entrance Hole should be flush or as close to flush as possible. The lower to the porch, the better.

photo copyright Bradley O'Toole

Sometimes, the entrances are placed low enough, it’s just that the starlings are smaller than usual. Take the very popular Troyer Gourds. People love them. They are our best selling gourd…deep, strong, lightweight, pretty awesome really. The entrances are as low as they can go. You can modify the gourd and swap out the entrance for a more restrictive opening, trap the offending bird, or you can try this fix reported by Bradley O. on FB. We would LOVE to hear if this works or not from others who are having a problem with starling breeches in their Troyer tunneled gourds. By looking at his picture, you can see that all he did was clip 2 small binder clips on either side of the Troyer Tunnel.

Bradley states, “The clips are 1-1/2 inches “wide” (when in the position in the pic). We have done this for a few years now with no issues with martins rejecting or being injured by them. Very rarely, they push the clip open. And yes, Susan…, please spread the word! Once the starlings check out the gourds, they seem to be discouraged and we don’t see many on the gourd rack.”

Copyright Bradley O'Toole

We hope you all try it and let us know if it works!

PurpleMartins-R-Us is now PurpleMartinPlace.com

January 25th, 2016

It’s official. Our improved website is now online. Great prices, easier to navigate, guest checkout, and more purple martin items than ever before are just some of the benefits of our new improved site. PurpleMartinPlace.com is OPEN! We have been working on this new site since 2012 and it has been open and doing business for over a year but we are now comfortable letting PurpleMartins-R-Us take a little break.

REVOLUTIONARY OWL DETERRANT

January 22nd, 2016

I am quite excited to try this at our colony this year as so far I have heard a GHO (Great Horned Owl) hooting in a wooded lot across the street. It makes my blood run cold since I know that once an owl discovers the plump morsels that reside within the large white “orbs” in my yard, my colony is as good as gone. NOTHING is more destructive to a colony that owl predation…maybe snakes…hawks are up there also. But owls are up there for sure.
Several years back, we introduced NiteGuards as an owl deterrent, but we heard reports of these not working as well as expected. Also, they were pretty ineffective once an owl already discovered the easy meals at a martin colony. We now have DANCING SCARE CROWS! Read this testimonial:

“I have had problems with Great Horned Owls every year since my colony started, because my colony is pretty remote…I set (The Dancing Man) up with a timer that turned on at 10pm and off at 6am. That was the end of my GHO problems. I looked outside constantly and never saw a sign of a Great Horned Owl. I was losing 2-3 martins every night until I started using the dancing man.” R. A., Pa.

We have also heard rave reviews from some great folks on Facebook like Paul Whodatnation Gremillion. We are working on making a version of this dancing man available on our website, but if you look around and you can get it cheaper, GO FOR IT!!! We plan on getting one ASAP! Just Google SKY DANCERS or AIRDANCERS. Try and get one with a weather resistant blower as some are not. Also some are sold WITHOUT the blower and that is not always clearly stated (on sites such as Amazon) so beware. Let us know your experiences!

Good Bye Natureline…(and good riddance)

June 12th, 2015

Well, I can’t say I am surprised to see them go. Around for ages, Natureline gourds have finally been discontinued. The company the produced these plastic gourds has gone out of business. Though the company is still technically “in” business until next Friday, there is no stock of any products, so for all intents and purposes, they are out of business already.

Natureline gourds were cutting age when they first came out in the late 1970′s (or was that early 80′s?) but compared to what is available now, Natureline gourds fell way behind the times due to failure to continue to integrate new ideas into their product. As a company that sells their product, I always told my customers of the drawbacks of Natureline gourds. Some of these drawbacks were quite significant. For example, the access port was actually the entrance which one was able to pull off to either access the gourd contents or to swap entrances. Sounds cool right? Sure, get martins started in a new colony with round holes, then switch to SREH to keep them safe from Starlings. Unfortunately, just as easy as it was for landlords to open the gourd, owls also were able to figure out how to open the gourds. Landlords were reporting finding the doors pulled off and martins gone. The “viewing port” on the side was utterly useless and was big enough for nothing really. The 2 piece construction invited leaks and though they were a large gourd, there are plenty of better gourds now available.  The Natureline line of gourd rack hubs was less popular but no less riddled with problems. The plastic connectors were reportedly easy to break and would crack within a season or two, dropping gourds on the ground.

Of course, I should not unfairly disparage the Natureline gourds. These gourds ultimately were a huge improvement over other plastic gourds which are ironically still on the market. Perhaps with a different name or manufacturer but still on the market nonetheless. These gourds are renowned among “true” purple martin enthusiasts, to be nothing short of an owl or hawk buffet line or purple martin death trap. These poor quality gourds are a testament to the martins will to live and reproduce, not to the qualities of the gourd themselves. Which is why we refuse to carry these gourds…they stink.

For those that still have Natureline gourds, we still have a very limited supply of Natureline replacement doors.

But alas, Natureline Gourds are gone. Making room for much superior gourds to continue to gain traction and help martin landlords host birds.

Wing Entrapment CAN Happen to You!

March 18th, 2015

Once again wing entrapment has struck again. Every year (early in the season usually) I have to deal with martins that get stuck in SREH entrances. 2 ASY males, one stuck in the sreh and one within the nest. Unfortunately I was out all day visiting family, came home after dark and this AM this was what I found.

For those that don’t know, Wing Entrapment is when a purple martin becomes stuck in a SREH. It usually happens when 2 or more martins are fighting over a compartment (nest spot) of any gourd or house with SREH (Starling Resistant Entrance Hole) As one bird tries to leave the nest and is trying to fend off attacks from within the nest from a rival or occupant, the bird gets stuck in the entrance. Basically gets stuck when he turns as he is trying to exit. If not discovered fairly quickly the birds in the nest can die as can the stuck bird. I have wondered if vented rooms vs non vented rooms have a better survival time but this nest was fairly well vented. But still the blocking off of the entrance must have happened early in the AM and as I was out all day, there they sat and died. Those that have reported deaths from entrapment usually say that they discovered it either the same day or within a day or two of the event.

It is important to note that this Sunset Inn house did NOT have wing entrapment guards on the inside of the crescent entrances. Also there have been reports of wind entrapment on the large Trendsetter houses that DO HAVE wing entrapment guards. I am not sure if the problem is the thickness of the guard, as the Trendsetter entrapment guard is not the thickest I have seen There is no standard thickness for a guard also and it is hard to just say that thicker may be better, because we are not real sure if at some point, the thickness would hamper their entry and exit into the compartment or cause some kind of situation with young birds crowding at the entrance waiting to be fed.

You can read about wing entrapment in previous blog posts as well as on our parent website, www.PurpleMartins-R-Us.com. Is wing entrapment a reason to not use SREH? Absolutely not. Wing entrapment remains much less common than the threat of Starlings in an unprotected colony. Of course, you have to weigh the pros and cons in your colony along with your sites individual risk factors for both problems.

2015 Nesting Begins!

March 6th, 2015

Even though much of the country is experiencing record snow fall and returning martins are being greeted with inhospitable conditions (to say the LEAST!) Purple Martins in South Florida are starting to nest. Males and females are bringing in pine needles, bark bits, and an occasional leaf. With temperatures in the mid 80′s today, they have had a mild season here so far. Our birds here have been back since just after the new year.

Big Announcement Coming Soon!!!

June 2nd, 2014

We can’t tell you yet. But we can say some BIG changes are coming to our website. Within the next few weeks we will be rolling out some pretty significant changes. Stay tuned as we will be announcing some contests to roll out the new changes to get the word out.

Do you have Facebook? Make sure you “Like” us on Facebook because one of the contests will be ONLY available for those that like our PurpleMartins-R-Us page.

We hope you will all be pleased when we finally announce the news.