Archive for the ‘product review’ Category

REVOLUTIONARY OWL DETERRANT

Friday, 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)

Friday, 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.

Homage To The SUPERGOURD!

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Sometimes it is hard to see the forest through the trees and we forget the roots of the modern day conveniences that we only recently have been able to enjoy. Ask a teenagers how they would feel without their cell phones and the endless texting and tweeting that would not exist if they had to depend on the phones of just 2 generations ago. Like comparing today’s instant access to news and information to our ancestors scribbling on cave walls, you can trace the evolution of the modern day conveniences of purple martin gourds and the SuperGourd by Bird Abodes.

It wasn’t that long ago when offering gourds was a downright intensive labor of love. Complete with environmental and health hazards thrown in as a free perk. Before the 1970′s, if you wanted to hang a couple of gourds, you had to go the au naturale route. Make sure you wear a mask, lest you breathe in the hazardous gourd dust as you drill holes in them. Make sure you wear gloves so you don’t get any of the poisonous herbicides on your skin as you soak them in the toxic fungicide-Copper Sulfate. Make sure you make arrangements to dispose of the Copper Sulfate, unless you want to be single-handedly responsible for killing a bunch of the plants and fish in the body of water where it will drain into. Make sure you properly glue, screw, and drill all sorts of entrances, canopies, entrance caps, and drain holes.  And that’s just for starters. Don’t believe me? Read this article posted by EmptyEasel.com.

Then in the 1970′s plastic gourds started making their their way into the market. But just because these gourds were easier to offer didn’t mean they were better. In reality they were just making it possible for more people to offer substandard and downright bad housing for our beloved purple martins. No access ports, hard to clean, hot and translucent, lightweight and cheap, these gourds traded the best properties of gourds out for the gimmick of being easy to buy and inexpensive.

Fast forward to 1987 and introduce the Grand Poobah of the modern day purple martin movement, Jamie Hill, III. If you have never heard of him, it is probably because you came upon this article accidentally while doing a Google search for Purple Doc Martin shoes. But to purple martin folks (the birds, not the shoes), Jamie Hill was the man who founded the Purple Martin Conservation Association.

Jamie Hill saw the plastic gourds that were on the market and wanted to marry the best qualities of gourds with the actual qualities that matter. The conveniences and ease of a plastic gourd are nice for us humans but include the things that really matter to a purple martin. Jamie wanted to make purple martin gourds safer for martins so that we could be better landlords and so the martins could in turn lay more eggs, raise more young, and fledge more babies. So in 1996, Mr. Hill introduced the SuperGourd. One piece blow molded means no seams that leak or loosen. Big interior dimensions mean more eggs and babies. Large access port means easy inspections, nest checks, and clean outs and the easy grip Heavy Duty caps will last. A ribbed perch-able canopy means protection from rain and easy place to perch. A variety of openings including round, bluebird, and SREH crescent entrances to choose from. There is even an insert trap that is available that was designed specifically for the SuperGourd to make trapping of invasive pets birds like English House Sparrows and European Starlings Super easy. Then inject some high quality recycled plastic with UV inhibitors means the gourd or access cap won’t become translucent over time. All of these factors and more, add up to a very nice gourd.

All New SuperGourdFast forward again to 2014 and Jamie Hill is at it again. Now the SuperGourds have an all new SuperGourd Porch available for purchase. The porches are made specifically for the SuperGourd and are sturdy, attractive, and add to the overall attractiveness of these gourds to purple martins. Now when you purchase your SuperGourds from PurpleMartins-R-Us.com, you can add on the new porches to your order. These porches work with any of the entrances and fit both inside and outside the gourd giving a nice convenient landing spot for your birds outside and a safe place underneath for the martins to make their nest. Perfect on SuperGourds with crescent SREH entrances, these porches install flush to the entrance, unlike some other porched housing. The Purple Martin Conservation Association recommends that SREH entrances are placed as near to flush as possible to increase the effectiveness of Starling Resistant Entrances. The rounded porches give the SuperGourds a beautiful outline, keeping with the organic shape of the gourd. It is good to see that though the SuperGourd was one of the earliest of the modern era gourds, they are still leading in innovation.

Most of the modern purple martin gourds that are sold on the market today have taken cues directly from Jamie Hill, even so far as using the same cap, mold maker, and blow molder to make their gourds. It is important to give credit where credit is due and today we here at PurpleMartins-R-Us.com give a great big “thank you” to Jamie Hill. His contribution of the SuperGourd has improved conditions for purple martins all over North America.  18 years after their introduction most, if not all of the original SuperGourds, are still in use. With over 250,000 happy purple martin families calling the SuperGourd home, we are sure many more will come to love SuperGourds even more with the addition of these new porches.

 

(c) 2014 PurpleMartins-R-Us, llc/ S.Halpin

Good Bye Excluder Gourds?

Friday, 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.

2013 Season Has Begun!

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Arriving one day later than they did in 2012, our purple martin season has begun. Today’s count was 8 birds, both ASY males and females. The one purple martin female, that had been returning every year to the same gourd seems to be absent. For the last 3 or 4 years a beautiful ASY female would arrive first and claim the same gourd. For some reason I doubt she decided to use another gourd. One the upside, I am glad she spent several productive seasons here at our colony.

There are several new items that will be making their way to our retail website, www.PurpleMartins-R-Us.com , so keep your eyes open for a NEW spiral gourd rack, newly designed owl/hawk guards for Trio /Erva purple Martin houses, and more. We also have made all purple martin housing ship FREE.

BIG Troyer Purple Martin Gourd Improvements for 2012!

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Its official. All Troyer Horizontal and Troyer Vertical gourds (with SREH) are now featuring Anti-Wing Entrapment tunnels AND new thicker Heavy Duty access caps that WON’T pop off! We are proud to offer the Troyer Horizontal Gourds and Troyer Vertical gourds and we use them ourselves in our own colony.

Off course you can buy these HD Caps separately to upgrade and improve your current selection of Troyer Gourds, Supergourds and Excluder gourds. These caps are opaque (so light won’t leak in), are stronger (so they won’t stretch out and pop off), have a ribbed grip and have 4 purple martins embossed on the top to boot!

All Starling Resistant Entrance Holes (SREH) on Troyer Gourds will now feature an anti-entrapment Guard on the interior of the tunnel. We have written several post in the past on wing entrapment and any SREH is susceptible to having this happen. If a bird becomes entrapped and it goes unnoticed the bird and any trapped behind it will perish. These new guards will cut down on this risk. Read more about wing entrapment at PurpleMartins-R-Us and also on this Blog. The guards are molded into the tunnel and are trap compatible with the Troyer-Haskell Tunnel Trap. Perfect for trapping S&S (Invasive House Sparrows & European Starlings) or even can be used to safely capture purple martins for banding/research purposes.

The season is almost upon us and the martins will be arriving in South Florida within the next few weeks. So stay tuned for an increase in posts here on MyPurpleMartinBlog.com and follow us on Twitter for martin Scout reports. (We are “PurpleMartinArt” on Twitter) Also we are working again on our webcam to get it up and running for our birds return.

In closing we wish you all a relaxing Joyful Holiday and a Healthy New Year!

GoodBye Trio MSS-8

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Erva announced recently that is was discontinuing a couple of their aluminum purple martin houses. The MSS-8 is therefore being discontinued. I was never crazy about the MSS-8 as it was just too small and there are several much better values out there. Once you close off alternating compartments, as recommended by the PMCA and PurpleMartins-R-Us.com, you end up with a pretty standard, unimpressive 4 room house. Not giving you much room for a healthy colony, our opinion is a 4 room house is just wrong.

Why do we make such a big deal about enlarging compartments? 6×6 is so 20th century and so unsafe. 6×12 is the way to go. Predators such as Owls can reach in 6 inches with their feet making anything in a small 6×6 compartment an easy dinner. Even Fish Crows and in some cases Blue Jays, have been known to reach in and snatch an easy meal. Also PMCA studies show that purple martins that nest in larger compartments lay more eggs on average, more eggs hatch and more survive to fledge.  A simple feat to enlarge existing compartments. Some housing systems (Like Quad Pods) use a “baffle” to deter Owls. That is simply a plastic barrier, within the compartment that prevents the owl from seeing past it and into the compartment itself. Larger compartments simply increase the distance from entrance to the nest interior. The added length makes it difficult for an Owl to reach in and pull out birds with his talons. Since an Owl can not reach in far enough, houses or gourds that incorporate this added length can help your Martins have some measure of safety.

The other models being discontinues are the DH-12N (a budget version of the popular Trio Mini Castle system) and the winch version of the MSS-12. The Budget DH-12N has always had stiff competition from the Heath 12/6 convertible that has the added features of SREH (Starling Resistant Entrance Holes) and compartments that can be easily enlarged to the recommended size, and still has the same hexagon shape that folks find so attractive. Though Heath does make an even cheaper version of the 12/6 convertible, again we do not recommend it due to the safety issues it poses to purple martins.

Wooden Purple Martin Houses

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Today I received a question and I thought I would share it with you. This DOES NOT pertain to T-14 or Cedar Suites wood houses which use winch / pulley systems and high grade poles designed for the weight of these houses that weigh from 65 to over 100 pounds.

Question

I have a purple martin wooden house that weighs 35lbs. I need to purchase the pole and the plate to set it up. Please recommend the best pole and plate to use to set it up.

ANSWER

It depends on what type of wooden house it is. Is it home made or store
bought? DIY Purple Martin houses that are just flat wood on the bottom, folks mount it to a 4×4 wooden post bought at a lumber yard or home improvement yard. The weight of the house will make it too heavy for a telescopic pole.

Though some websites may say that a telescopic pole can handle up to 25 lbs and sell brackets, galvanized pole or pipe FLANGES can be found in any hardware store. It would be cheaper for you to buy at Lowes, Home Depot or any local hardware store. We do not sell them due to safety concerns. We believe that the weight of the house combined with the height at which martin houses are mounted, substantially increases the risk of pole failure. Though we sell aluminum houses that use galvanized pipe, these
houses have been tested and are proven to support the weight they are designed for.

If you mount to a wooden 4×4 wood post then the base of the house can be screwed onto a post using “L” brackets, also found at any hardware store for under a few dollars.

Unfortunately many wooden purple martin houses sold on the web are poor choices to actually house martins. They are not built with martins in mind. Which is why we do not sell them.


One good tip when buying ANY purple martin house is beware of the term “Easy end of season cleanout” or” top level detaches from the bottom”doing nest checks you want to be able to selectively open compartments. Opening a whole floor at a time is just ASKING for trouble. I mean, where are you supposed to put that portion of the house while you check the other section? On the ground? What about if a nest is close to fledging? The nestlings would be jumping all over the place. Never mind the issues with the posts that these houses are designed to be mounted on. Decorative at best, way to short or impossible to reach at worst.  And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that there are no starling resistant options and the compartments are WAY too small.

Any good purple martin house will have large 6×12 (or even 6×11) compartments and the ability to selectively open portions of the house with minimal disruption. Easy to lower and SREH options show that your and your martins comes first.

Purple Martin Nest Material

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

So what do you use to put in those martin houses and gourds? Many of the available choices that some folks may use work great, some are a bad idea.

Good

Typically the most commonly used prenest material is Pine Straw. Pine straw is just pine needles. It may differ in length and color depending on what kind of pine tree the needles are from but usually pine needles from Longleaf pine, Slash pine or White pine.

Leaves can also be quite water repellent. It really depends on the leaf. Oak are good. Small and flat they are safe.

Corn Fodder which is dried cut up corn stalks

Bad

Grass clippings are a bad choice. First, the grass absorbs water. This in itself is bad enough but then it can mat down and become compacted to the point where water will not easily penetrate. Making your gourd a pool of death.

cedar shavings, though easy to find at any petstore and quite cheap, are not a good choice. They absorb water and stay wet. If you ever use shavings in a cage for a rabbit or hamster, you know! Though I have used it in a pinch, you should try to avoid it.


Depending on what is around you will notice the martins at your site bringing many things to use as nest material. Long ornamental grasses, reeds, hay, even nails have been found in nests. Yes, I recently saw a photo of a martin nest that had over 100 long metal construction nails in the nest. What have you found or used in purple martin nests???

The most important thing to remember is that American’s have been altering the nature of purple martins for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years. Since martins have lost the instinct to nest in a natural cavity, we have a responsibility to care for these birds as part of our heritage as American’s…whether Native American, North American or United States of ‘American’.

Teaching Kids About Migration

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

drsuessI recently found a really fun, interactive way for children to learn about migration. PBS kids has made an online game featuring Dr. Seuss and a flock of, you guessed it, PURPLE MARTINS! How cool is that?!? In Migration Adventure, kids learn all about how and why birds migrate. It’s a teaching tool masked in an online video game that is as safe as it comes. And we all know kids learn best when they don’t even realize they are being taught! Check it out and have your little one play. Also (on the theme of kids and learning) our website has a couple of great kids books. A purple martin book made specifically for children and a darling beginner reader book about a swallow that also teaches cooperation, friendship and about migration.

My Best Nest, a hardcover children’s picture book, is filled with vibrant and active illustrations that allow the reader to follow a mother Purple Martin swallow during her first day of nest building. A short natural history section with color photos is included for parents, grandparents and teachers. A bonus plus is this book is autographed by the author/illustrator Ree Dellinger. Truly a work of art, each page is beautiful and proceeds of this book go to benefit migratory birds and wildlife conservation efforts.

Follow the Swallow is a cool for early readers between 5 and 7 years old. Vivid illustrations and large text and also balloon inserts that kids find irresistible and exciting. Written by award winning author, Julia Donaldson, who has written books such as Spinderella, The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom.