Archive for September, 2008

Folke Peterson Wildlife Center

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

I recently posted about my desire to help my local rehab center obtain Purple Martin housing. You may or may not know what is my relationship with Folke Peterson Wildlife Center. It all started with an injured fledgling I named Beau. On his maiden flight (or shortly thereafter) he got stuck in a metal chain link fence for an unknown amount of time. By the time I noticed he was in distress, he was weak and dehydrated. Beau was rehabbed by Folke Peterson and owes his life, as do many animals, to the people that work there.

You may be wondering what I am doing to help FPWC, as I am asking people if they would like to donate to FPWC. I mean, Geez, “You have a website and sell all kinds of stuff and even Purple Martin Housing-just donate one of the houses you sell.” Well, if I was independently wealthy, I would. I have wholesale agreements with the people whose Purple Martin Housing I sell but none of them are free. Folke Peterson will have the option to purchase (at wholesale prices-for NO profit) from my site any of the housing I sell. OR since it is their donation money they can purchase it from whatever source they wish. My MAIN interest is helping them to get housing up. Do I have ulterior motives? YES! Because I know that when people see Purple Martins in flight, they will be astounded. Others will then want to get Martin houses up of their own. Hundreds of children will be exposed to these birds. Perhaps some of them will tell Mom and Dad about these birds. Perhaps a few people will be as taken and fall completely in awe of them-as I have.  But I am off on a tangent.

Follows is an exerpt from their site about the history of the center:
“In 1969 Bonnie Findlay and her brother Wallace Findlay founded The Bambi Bird & Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the first wildlife rehabilitation operations in Florida, on 31 acres of undeveloped, Australian pine-wooded land west of State Road 7, (441), and just south of Southern Boulevard in Western Palm Beach County.

Bonnie and Wallace dedicated the rest of their lives to the cause of helping injured, sick, and orphaned wildlife, by nursing them back to health, and releasing them back into their natural habitat.

With little more than their own time, money, and unending compassion, they generously cared for this area’s native wildlife and protected the animals living on their designated sanctuary.

In February of 1997, a devastating fire destroyed the Findlay’s home and two other buildings. Tragically Wallace Findlay perished in this dreadful blaze. Bonnie was diagnosed with cancer soon after and passed away in 2000. But before she died, Bonnie decided to partner with The Folke Peterson Foundation, named after a South Florida dairy farmer who bequeathed more than $25 million dollars of his money to animal causes in 1989.

The causes and dreams of these two animal lovers, separated by time and distance, but with similar visions, came together in 2001 when the Peterson Foundation Trustees and Bambi’s Board of Directors agreed to construct and fund the building of a $2,000,000 facility on the property, while at the same time renaming Bambi as The Folke Peterson Wildlife Center, at the Findlay Sanctuary. The original board members of the Peterson Foundation, including Chairman Don Champion, Frank and Emily Van Vliet, Howard Usher, Rick Kornmeier and Sue Shearouse were instrumental in crystallizing this joint vision into a long range plan for the future that would include the state-of-the-art facility we have today.

“I spent much of my youth feeling lonely and out of place,” Wallace once said. “So when I see sick animals that are injured and scared, I feel compelled to help. My dream is to build a wildlife hospital here, and I know if I keep working towards this goal with purpose and dignity, it will come to pass.”

Through the dedication and hard work of countless people, both past and present, that dream is being fulfilled.

With the Findlays’ and Folke Peterson’s hopes for the future in our minds and hearts, we proudly carry on the work of saving wildlife, educating the public and preparing to ultimately become a teaching hospital for current and future wildlife veterinarians and wildlife rehabilitation professionals.”

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin/

Rehab Facility Quest for Martin Housing

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Last season when I had a fledgling martin that had been injured I brought him to Folke Peterson Wildlife Center. The fledgling was cared for and I was allowed to return the fledgling to my colony for release back to its natal site. One of the veterinarians there related to me that her parents had been Purple Martin Landlords and when the director of FPWC told me of their interest in putting up housing I was thrilled to offer whatever help I could. I will be monitoring their future site weekly as well as teaching their staff on how to manage their colony (including S&S control). Also I will ensure that all entrances are SREH.

So, on behalf of Folke Peterson,  if anyone wants to join me in helping Folke Peterson obtain housing for Martins, we would be grateful for your help.

If you would like to donate unwanted used housing that can be rehabilitated,
donate new housing,
or spare funds
Please, I ask that you donate any money directly to FPWC.

You can call FPWC at: 1-561-793-BIRD (2473) Make sure you tell them that your donation is for the Purple Martin project as they are a 501 (c)(3) not for profit, tax-exempt organization and they rely on donations for all aspects of their operations.

Checks can be mailed directly to them at:
Folke Peterson Wildlife Center
10948 Acme Road
Wellington, Florida 33414

Just write:“Purple Martin Project” on your check to make sure that the funds are allocated correctly.

This high profile facility is often in the news for its help with local wildlife issues and gives classes (free of charge) to 3 or 4 groups weekly with up to 60 children per group. They could do great things for the cause of Purple Martins in the South Florida area by educating the public on our beloved bird; As Florida’s housing boom of the last decades has NOT included housing for Martins.

Thank you,
Susan Halpin

Here is a link to the FPWC site :

“FPWC Mission Statement

The Folke Peterson Wildlife Center (FPWC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization licensed to provide care for sick, injured and orphaned native Florida wildlife. Our primary goal is to return healthy, rehabilitated animals to their natural habitat as soon as possible. Unreleasable animals are sometimes used as ambassadors for their species in our public education programs promoting tolerance and appreciation of wildlife.

Our ultimate goal is to become one of a handful of wildlife veterinary teaching hospitals in the country.

As we are not government funded, we rely on donations”

Hello again Jose

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

It had been some time  since I saw Jose. Last time we spoke he told me how talking about the martins had made him realize how much he missed them. As a landlord I can understand. A protectiveness and responsibility becomes part of your everyday life. He told me that he used to feel like he was a part of them, and when he left his home for the last time to go to the nursing home, he did not realize that he would never come back. “I guess I always thought that I would go home and go back to how it was. I never thought I would stay here so long.” I asked him if he thought his neighbors would ever see the birds return and put housing for them. “The last time I saw them houses they were a mess. Between me not taking care of that wood like I should and the storms…there wasn’t much left. My neighbors…they were not so much better off than me, you know? I don’t think people care too much for birds anymore. They care that they have a nice car and nice stuff. They talk big now saying we all use recycle this and that. But you know what I think? I think that recycling propaganda and green this, organic that…makes it all easy for people to not give a damn. They all think that they are doing their part but no one goes through the work. No one puts up the houses for the martins, leaves the old trees to rot and give the woodpeckers a place to live, fills the feeder with the good seed, kills those $&!^ Sparrows. They all want life wrapped in a pretty package with a pink bow.” We paused there and I felt a bit uncomfortable with his anger but I understood it. I finally said, “Hay, I don’t like them sparrows either!” He laughed and that seemed to release some tension. “I know, I know, you need to bring me a trap so I can put it our here for these ones here!” He said. I changed the subject and told him about the Red-Bellied woodpecker that has been occupying a wooden bird house on a pine tree next to my driveway. Earlier this year an Eastern Screech Owl had nested there. Now it appeared that the Woodpecker was taking a turn. He seemed happy to hear that news. “Ohhh good good.” He said happily. I finally remembered that I had brought him a small photo book of some of pictures I had taken this year and we flipped through it. I gave him a little background on all of the martins that I had photographed. The young momma with the bald neck, the ASY male with the bad attitude. The first pairs initial squabbles over which nest they would ultimately settle on. He seemed to enjoy it and it reminded him of individual birds that he would recognize in his own colony. I left it with him and said my good byes and realized that even the tiniest moments are a treasure. What Jose would not have done to be sitting on his chair in his own backyard with a sky full of Purple Martins swirling above him.

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Recollections of Frances

Friday, September 12th, 2008

September 4, 2004, a date that will live in infamy. Well, at least for me it will. 13 days prior to that I had given birth to my son via cesarean. After being discharged from the hospital on the 26 (I believe) I crawled into bed in pain and in a fog. My son was a blessing but feeding him was proving to be a problem. Without getting too graphic, God’s way of feeding children was not working out well. I was sleep deprived and my son was happier with a bottle in his mouth. I recall the news talk about a hurricane approaching. I also recall my every waking moment being full of diapers and bottles and pumping and all the other bits of being a brand new mom. I was a tad preoccupied. And I must admit, I was a bit weary of warnings to board up your house and store water and supplies.
I grew up in Florida and have vague recollections of what hurricanes meant for me. Hurricane David was a big to-do back in 1979 and was touted as a monster but to me it was a day off of school and a camp out at home. I think I slept through it. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was a lot scarier. I lived on my own in the Ft.Lauderdale area and there we had wind that swayed metal street lights as if they were made of rubber. I rented an apartment and no one bothered to board any windows. I pushed my sofa up to my sliding glass door and recall stuffing my washer and dryer with all my photos and things I could NOT live without and huddled in a safe room for a few hours.
Fast forward to 2004, I guess I didn’t think that I had to be the one to prepare. My husband, never having been through a proper hurricane did not bother to fill up the bath tubs with water. By the time I realized nothing had been bought-no water, no food, no supplies, I was too tired to care and fell asleep. I awoke shortly thereafter to no power, no water, no toilet or showers. It was 2 weeks of no power and a much longer story I am writing here.
My point is: I pray that all those in the path of “IKE” heed the warnings and get out. I pray all those that need help, receive it. I pray that all those that will be suffering are helped. I pray that this hurricane brings people together in the spirit of goodness and grace. May God have mercy on Galveston tonight.

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin/
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Invasive Species-Not just for the Birds

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

I was partly amused at a story I saw on CNN this morning. Apparently the European Red squirrel is being seriously threatened by America’s larger more aggressive Grey squirrel. The red squirrels are trying to wage a comeback with the help of active conservationists who are trapping and euthanizing the American squirrels. I am sure at some point a rich American will probably spend millions of dollars to have trapped grey squirrels returned to the USA to be repatriated to their native soil.

 I have written about North America’s plight against European invaders such as Sparrows and Starlings. The fight is not for the faint of heart and I am sure that it may seem cruel to some. One thing must be kept in mind. In 50 years, if nothing was ever done to control Sparrows and Starlings here…or grey squirrels in England-our native species would be urban legends. Much like the Dodo bird whose extinction was sealed when cats and dogs (among a few) were introduced to the island of Mauritius. These animals decimated the native populations of Dodos and though they did not compete with the Dodo’s, they did directly cause their demise. So, even though the squirrels in Europe and the cavity nesters in the America’s are being pushed out by direct competition by direct relatives, those related species were introduced by us. Lets not tell our Grandchildren WE were directly responsible, by our INaction to the fall of any animal. Just as we would rise up against a neighborhood bully to protect the weaker kid on the block, let us protect the weak-as God would have us do.

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin/