Archive for the ‘purple martins’ Category

Starlings Breaching SREH

Sunday, 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!

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.

2015 Nesting Begins!

Friday, 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!!!

Monday, 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.

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

Our Humble Beginnings

Tuesday, 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.

Season Having Ominous Start

Monday, 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

Motivation to Clean Those Purple Martin Houses

Sunday, 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!