Archive for the ‘migration’ Category

And So Purple Martin Season Begins!

Monday, 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 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.


Purple Martins Coming Home in Droves!

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

For some reason the purple martins this year to be a lot more vocal than usual. In past years they seem to trickle in a few here and there and then they keep a low profile. Staying away feeding for much of the day. Not wanting to draw too much attention while their numbers are low. This year seems a bit different. Maybe its because our colony here in Loxahatchee, Florida is now firmly established as we enter our 6th year, or perhaps its just the size of the colony, now offering over 45 compartments. It just seems like the birds are hanging around, chortling, sitting in the entrances of their gourds staking their claim. They were a few days late this year but they seem to have arrived in greater numbers. I counted 15 in the air but I am sure there were some in the gourds.

I have a few final finishing touches to complete to the colony site. Putting up 2″ x 4″ hardware cloth on the 2 aluminum martin houses on the MPP, is on the to-do list. Also changing out some access caps with the new Heavy Duty caps that won’t stretch and pop off. Also the BirdCam is being worked on and though it is proving to be a bit more troublesome this year, I am sure the live streaming cam will be up soon.

The MPP is a Multi Purpose Pole that lets you hang 2 houses on 1 pole and plus hang gourds below. The picture shows not only the MPP pole at our colony but the same pole we sell at our site, BTW. I added even more gourds to this set-up by adding a set of Universal Gourd Hanging Arms to the houses themselves. So The pole has 12 house compartments and 8 gourds for the martins to choose from. Though you could in theory add more gourds, I  usually don’t recommend going more than 18 compartments/gourds on any 1pole. Remember, the problem isn’t with the weight, per sea, but with the time it takes to check on so many compartments. Inevitably what happens is that you will end up not being able to check nests because of the variation in nest ages and then you have to worry about scaring babies that are close to fledge age. It can get a little tricky and if you don’t keep up on nest checks, you end up with a cluster! For those that want to offer houses and gourds and have limited backyard space, the MPP is a wonderful thing.

PURPLE MARTINS Have Arrived in Palm Beach County, FLA.

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

YEAH! It is official. The purple martin season has begun! I am happy to report the arrival of 2 ASY purple martin females. They are chortling and sticking heads in compartments and even entering a few gourds. They seem none the worse for wear and happy to be home. I will take photos and be posting them asap. Also I am in the midst of getting 4 new cams up and working. STAY TUNED!

Screech Owls Need a Hand

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

As a proponent of all native cavity nesting birds, I again was reminded of the housing shortage when the floor to the much sought screech owlsafter Flicker nest box fell out. After several seasons of hard use, interest by Woodpeckers, Greater Crested Flycatchers, Screech Owls and most recently, Horned owl attacks, 2 new nest boxes will be going up this weekend. I will be adding some experimental Owl Guards to keep the larger Barred/Horned Owls from killing their smaller “Screech-y” cousins.The Screech Owls seem to get caught by the Repeating nest box trap once a season. Even though the trap is placed lower to the ground than what Owls are said to like, my theory is that they are always desperate for nest sites and will investigate any cavity.

As a few cool days have reminded me of approaching winter and the news shows snow storms already battering some States, I welcome my yearly Eastern Phoebe friends that I have seen.

More News on our Western Purple Martin Friends

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

The Nanaimo News Bulletin in BC Canada featured another article on our Western purple martins a few days ago. It’s hard to believe that the season is still winding down for our Canadian neighbors. As the final day of summer approaches, it’s almost a “last hurrah” of sorts for us here in the extreme Southern range of the Eastern species.

It is nice to hear that despite the poor weather they still managed to have a good year and some 585 pairs that managed to produce some 2,200 baby martins. 110 of those pairs within the Nanaimo area itself.

Of course you can read the entire article by clicking on the picture or visit or

Gone to the Birds Festival at Shockoe Bottom, Virginia

Monday, August 8th, 2011

In another display of bird lovers coming out to witness the spectacle of a Purple Martin premigratory roost, Shockoe Bottom (by Richmond) in Virginia had their annual “Gone to the Birds” festival. Not the largest roost but still mighty impressive at an estimated 25,000, a cluster of Bradford pear trees served as the center piece for the 4th festival at the 17th Street Farmers’ Market in Shockoe Bottom. The celebration featured purple creations of all sorts, from purple snow cones to purple martinis for the grown ups. To read the article and see a video of the birds coming in to roost, click on the photo.

For more info on this yearly event you can go to the website at for their blog, news and more.

Its Purple Martin Roost Time At The Bridge

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Though the season here is done and I suspect our South Florida roosts are also done, up in North Carolina things are heating up. The William B. Umstead Bridge in Manns Harbor plays host to a huge purple martin premigratory roost. The Manns Harbor roost is swarming with martins at dusk. For about another month or two these birds will be roosting under the bridge in such large numbers that warning lights were installed to slow traffic as hundreds of birds were being struck and killed by cars at dawn and dusk.

As years past the Coastal Carolina Purple Martin Society (CCPMS) will be having boat tours and for $30 a person you will be witness to a spectacle of nature. You can read about the tour on a previous blog post from last year or go straight to their website to contact for reservations at Purple Martin Roost Boat Tour Information.

Know of a roost near you? Make sure you visit it before they are gone.

(c) 2011 S.Halpin PurpleMartins-R-Us

2011 Purple Martin Season is DONE!

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Every season seems to end the same for me, here in South Florida. The end of martin season coincides with the start of our rainy season. Each morning our colony would get a faithful dozen or so visitors that would sit on the housing and chatter at any remaining nests. Late in the morning they would leave to only to return again the next morning. But then when a few days of poor/rainy weather persists, they are gone. I wrote a post last year about how it is thought that birds are sensitive to changes in barometric pressures and the weather , could avoid bad weather by delaying migration to an area of poor weather or vice versa. I’ll repost it here:

According to Melvin L. Kreithen and William T. Keeton of the Division of Biological Sciences, Langmuir Laboratory, Cornell University in Ithaca, New York,(23 October 1973) Homing pigeons were able to to detect air pressure changes. As purple martin landlords can tell you, a purple martins homing ability is at the very least equal to that of a homing pigeon. So the correlation is fair.

By any account, my season is over here in South Florida and all martins have left.

The factors that affect a birds migration are complex and not completely understood. Click this article for Neotropical Migratory Bird Basics from the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. If you want to learn more about Neotropical Migratory Birds read this article on Birds Built-in Barometer.

Not that my birds need bad weather to end their party, migratory birds know when it is time to go based on known factors such as the length of day and for some types of birds, even star patterns. There is nothing to be done for purple martins (or any other migratory bird-for that matter) that linger on. Some folks will tell you to lower or remove housing, but don’t bother. Just like the old wives tales that persist that tell hummingbird aficionados to remove hummingbird feeders to push hummers to migrate, nothing needs to be done.

So keep the feeders full, leave the housing up till you feel like it. Birds have been migrating for a long time and the only thing we need to do for them is support them, by way of a beak full of nectar, a belly full of seed or perhaps a dry place to sleep at night.

2011 Purple Martin Season UNDERWAY!

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

It is official! The first purple martins for the 2011 season have arrived. As usual, the West coast of Florida lays claim to the first purple martin “scout”.

On Jan 5, 2011, Dr. Steven K. Million of Lake Suzy (Lake Suzy is west of Arcadia and east of Port Charlotte and Northeast of Punta Gorda), Florida reported the first martin. Fort Myers (first to report purple martins last year) followed suit on 06 January at a colony affectionately named the Purple Martin Hotel At Gateway.

Of course, we ALL know that there are NO purple martin scouts. Even the PMCA agrees. What some folks call scouts are just older more experienced birds returning to their old colony sites to secure a nest spot. They simply stop at other sites along the way. Now in my opinion, (considering how gregarious purple martins are) when they arrive in such small numbers they are seeking out other martins to socialize with so maybe they are simply seeking out their own.

For our colony, I suspect the martins won’t arrive for a few more weeks. If you are like me then you still need to buy those replacement purple martin house doors, a few extra gourds, heck maybe a new purple martin system. So now is the time. We recommend making all repairs and most minor changes BEFORE your purple martins arrive.

Tree Swallows Galore

Monday, December 6th, 2010

With my backyard being a veritable desert of bird life lately, I was surprised to see hundreds if not thousand of tree swallows streaking westward at about 2:30 this afternoon. With their stark white bellies flashing they darted about all going towards the same common destination. I am not sure where but they were not pausing to eat. The shot straight and true.
With the holidays almost here I know that soon our purple martins will be starting their journey home. Shortly after New years, they always seem to show up on Florida’s west coast then within a few weeks they come home to me. It is really not that far away. Fall has been pretty boring with even my migratory visitors not staying for long. My Eastern Phoebe was only around a day or two. A pair of Sandhill Cranes frequently tempt fate by walking way too close to the road. Hopefully winter will treat the martins kindly.
For now the tree swallows will just have to do.