Our Humble Beginnings

March 18th, 2014

Sometimes on days such as today, I look back and am amazed at how our colony here has grown. From our small meager start with a cheap plastic house, to our 44 compartments of state of the art purple martin heaven, our colony has far exceeded any dreams we could have had for it.

But just how did our colony start? Our first attempt to put up a house was very late. I believe it was in late March of 2007 when we put it up. In April, being very late for our birds (considering that our birds arrive in January), we did succeed in attracting a SY female. She raised 2 martins to fledging. Her ASY mate and all the other martins had long since left. But she faithfully watched over her brood of 2 and I was lucky enough to watch them sitting side by side in a tall tree as she brought them dragonflies to eat. She fed them most of the morning and afternoon in that tree and in the late afternoon she coaxed them off that branch and flew southward and never came back. The house was quiet.

A lot has changed since then. And I am sure she came back the next year. Actually I am relatively sure she came back for 3 years after that. But each year she returned she saw better housing, better planning…and an earlier start.

Snake Netting Making an Early Save!

March 3rd, 2014

20140303-135938.jpg
Snake netting is one of the cheapest, easiest, and most effective way to protect your purple Martin colony from the very real danger of snakes. Though it is early in the season, and the birds have just started nest building, a snake has already been caught in our snake netting.
Snake netting is really a product called bird netting. Available in the garden section of any home improvement store. Learn more by reading the following from a blog entry of ours from 2011.

How to Make Snake Netting to Protect Your Martins
Bluebird trails, Tree swallow boxes and purple martin landlords can all benefit from using snake netting (actually bird netting) on your poles. Snakes can climb up any pole and can even thwart many predator guards. Since no predator guard is 100% fool proof, this quick and easy tip can further decrease the chances of one of these critters from slinking their way up your martin pole.

Bird netting can be found at just about any garden center, home improvement center and is used to keep birds from eating the fruit and veggies in your garden. It can be found in either rolls or flat packaging, and comes in several sizes. We recommend using 2 sizes to protect against larger and smaller snakes. 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch.

The exact way to attach the netting to your poles is unimportant. The netting needs to be held out and away from the pole to both prevent ground predators from using the net to circumvent any other predator guards in place (such as a stovepipe type) and to make the snake go through the net rather than up and around it. Thus the exact way to layer the netting is a debatable issue. Many different techniques have been used successfully. The main idea is for it to be above your predator guard to serve as a last “hail Mary” of protection. The netting should be full and hang loosely. Think of a big fluffy skirt under your housing.

Season Having Ominous Start

February 24th, 2014

I hope this is simply a case of what my husband refers to as my “Glass Half Empty” tendencies BUT yesterdays joy about seeing the martins bringing in nest materiel has been dampened. While sitting at my desk a loud bang at the window got my up to investigate. Having heard bird strikes before, I looked down low outside the window. There, with wings sprawled open was a gorgeous ASY female with her eyes open. I ran out just in time to scare off a pair of hawks from withing feet of the martin. I suspect a young (fledgling) hawk was being instructed in his hunting technique and the martin hit the window in a desperate attempt to flee. After scaring them off, with the martin colony in hot pursuit, I turned to the female. She got up and flew (a tad bit unsteadily) off. I wish I could have caught her, to give her an hour of quiet and safe recovery. She obviously wanted none of my coddling.

Last year the end of our season was plagued by Coopers hawk attacks. Often 2,3, or 4 times a day, we saw Coopers hanging out in the trees at the edges of our property, hanging off gourds trying to flush out birds and nestlings, fly by attacks, and flying off with both adults and fledgling birds. I told myself that this season I would erect some sort of hardware cloth cage to protect the housing…but alas…that didn’t happen.

Though this photo shows what I wanted to do, my gourd racks have much smaller and lightweight brackets that would not support the weight of the wire.  Hmmm, it’s making me think!

 

(C)  2014 S.Halpin

Another Reason for Cats Indoors

February 18th, 2014

I know I get a little “Soap Box-ish” when it comes to the American Bird Conservancy’s Cats Indoors campaign. This video is one of the reasons why. As a bird AND cat lover, I feel that I am 100% qualified to endorse ABC’s and the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (to name a couple) stand on domesticated cats being allowed to roam free. Check out this 32 second video to see why.

And So Purple Martin Season Begins!

January 13th, 2014

2014 beginsYesterday was the official start to our purple Martin season for 2014. The first purple Martin for the season was reported in Jupiter on December 30th but January 12 was our lucky day. Today I count 3 ASY males and 1 female going in and out of gourds and the males are singing happily on the rack. I find this semi out of character as they usually are very quiet the first week or so. I almost wonder if they have been here but perhaps I did not notice them. It is possible since we have been über busy here at PurpleMartins-R-Us.com. Our annual price changes, new products, and after Christmas rush has been keeping things busy.
One of our new to us products is the entire line of CUENT (Creative Universe) gourd racks including the K series 24 racks and the Gemini racks. Also new is Free Shipping on ALL martin houses, gourds, and gourd racks.

 

How Australia Deals With Invasive Birds!

January 6th, 2014

Wow, there is no denying it. Approve or disapprove, Melbourne Australia has a “No-Holds Barred”  approach to dealing with invasive/pest birds. This Pigeon Dummy Egg Nest works by encouraging the birds to lay eggs in the structure. Then at night, when the pigeons are asleep a worker access the nests to replace fertilized eggs with dummy eggs. The real eggs are promptly made into omelets.

It is reported that there is a similar program in New York City, but I wasn’t able to find a pic of that one.

In purple martin news, as of Dec 30, 2013, purple martins have arrived in Florida!

Good Bye Excluder Gourds?

November 15th, 2013

As of November 2013, the well known Excluder Gourds are not being sold on our site. by anyone other than the PMCA. Though Excluder Gourds have been around a while, we have noticed a decline in sales as the more popular Troyer Gourds, have surpassed Excluders in sales.
Excluder Gourds were popular due to their realistic appearance, having been molded from an actual gourd. Aesthetically pleasing, Excluders have been around for some time and features like ribbed porches (inside and out) , SREH, one piece blow molded plastic, and heavy duty access ports, made them functional too.
However, Excluders seemed to have gotten caught in a kind of product hibernation.
Troyer Gourds, on the other hand, have made innovations that have kept them on the cutting edge. Just recently, Troyer Gourds have revamped their SREH to include built in wing entrapment guards, redesigned access port covers, and the addition of Troyer Vertical Gourds to their line up.
Are Excluder Gourds good gourds? Yes, they are.
Are Excluder Gourds the best gourds?
No, I don’t believe they are.
Lucky for you, there are other choices.

Motivation to Clean Those Purple Martin Houses

October 13th, 2013

OK, I know how it is. After the first few years, after your martins leave, you kinda loose the excitement of cleaning out those dirty gourds and house compartments. I guess it is one of the less glamorous aspects of playing landlord to a couple hundred or so odd birds every year. Even though I know better, I find myself again putting off the dirty task. Heck, my birds will be headed back in only a couple of months! What is the big deal, you ask. I know for a fact that there are plenty of folk, good and decent folk, that don’t touch their purple martin houses or gourds from one year to the next. You may be one of those people. You watch from the sidelines and enjoy the view in the spring and come fall you walk away. Nothing wrong with that…unless you want to be taken over!!! Here is my lesson learned from last summer and the reason why I WILL finally get to my gourds this week. I promise!  The bees simply loved the gourds and made quite a nice hive. The paper wasps like to make a home in there also. The solution is simple. After cleaning out the gourds I just cover each gourd with a tall kitchen garbage bag and they sit clean and protected from all sorts of non-purple martin wildlife. You can take all the houses down if you have the garage space or you can plug the entrances with door shields or plugs. Beware, if you use door plugs, look for air vents that you may also have to plug that are large enough to let in creepy crawlies or stinging friends. And if I don’t…well, I deserve what I get!

Service Dog Fraud: Quest for the Vest | anewscafe.com

August 26th, 2013

A word about service dogs: you probably don’t have one. Want to drive me crazy? Just ask,

via Service Dog Fraud – Quest for the Vest | anewscafe.com.

Had to share thi, as fake service dogs are quickly getting up there on my pet peeves list. Right behind feeding starlings and sparrows, cats outdoors and now this.

Where To Not Place A Purple Martin House

June 28th, 2013

There are plenty of places to buy a purple Martin house. Now, with the explosion of the virtual world, one can decide to get a martin house and be shopping within minutes.
Unfortunately, most places that will sell you a Martin house have really no idea where they should be placed. Even buying a purple martin house in person won’t guarantee that the sales person knows anything about them. Thankfully we are not one of those places! We always have a Martin specialist ready to answer our customers questions.
Recently, while touring a nature preserve, we came upon several purple Martin houses. Terribly placed, I brought the bad placement of the houses to their attention and was told that the trees had encroached over several years. Also I was told they were aware of the poor placement and that they used the houses as an educational tool. That didn’t really make much sense to me, as the best tool would be a house full of martins. I doubt the houses are used as a, “Here is what you shouldn’t do…”
For those that have questions on where to place a Martin house, check out our articles at PurpleMartins-R-Us.com for full details. In a nut shell, a minimum of 40 feet from any trees is needed. I further instruct people that depending on the height of the tree, if you have (for example) a 60 foot tree, the housing should be at least that far from the said tree.

20130628-160448.jpg