Archive for the ‘Videos’ Category

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  www.GoneToTheBirds.org for their blog, news and more.

Purple Martins Make Martha, It’s a GREAT Thing!

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

marthastewart

An article that appeared a few weeks ago in the New York Times home section captured the eye of the Martha Stewart production team who brought it to the attention of Martha Stewart herself. A fellow martin landlord, Larry Melcher was able to be on her show and did a great job as an ambassador for Purple Martins. At Martha Stewart’s website, you will find athe actual video that aired on her show and also an easy to follow “how to” guide for making natural purple martin gourds.

Just remember. If you want to attract purple martins, one gourd will not be enough. Be prepared to make at least 4 and use a face mask as the fine dust created by cutting gourds is very irritating to the lungs. Also remember that you cannot successfully attract martins by hanging one of these from a tree. It must be hung in an open area at least 10 feet or more, off the ground. If you don’t have a pole to hang the gourds from a pole like this one is perfect for hanging a few gourds. Easy to raise and lower and a top perch to boot.

Check out Martha Stewart’s website and enjoy!

BIRDING COMES TO THE SMALL SCREEN

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Finally Adventure Birding comes to the small screen…After a successful season premiere on 2 well-known local networks, Birding Adventures TV will now be available in most TV households across the US!

Hosted by professional wildlife and birding guide, James Currie, BATV is a unique blend of adventure and information, making birdwatching refreshing, contemporary, interesting and exciting. The show has a strong conservation emphasis and highlights the importance and urgency of preserving the planet’s incredible birdlife. Featuring the quest for a rare Golden Bird each week, James is joined by birding and conservation experts from around the globe.

The first show on July 18th 2009 features the ocean wildlife of the Californian coast and the most range-restricted North American endemic bird, The Island Scrub-jay. Show 2 on the 25th July features the search for the critically endangered Sun Parakeet in Guyana. BATV will be carried every Saturday morning Prime-time from 7.30-8.00 am local time by the following Fox Sports Networks:

FS Arizona (Dish 415; Direct TV HD686)

FS Detroit (Dish 430, 5430; Direct TV 636, HD663)

FS Florida (Dish 423, 5423; Direct TV HD654)

FS Midwest (Dish 418, 5418; Direct TV HD671)

FS North (Dish 436; Direct TV HD668)

FS Ohio (Dish 425; Direct TV HD660)

FS South (Dish 420; Direct TV HD646)

FS Southwest (Dish 416, 5416; Direct TV HD676)

FS West (Dish 417; Direct TV HD692)

FS Wisconsin (Dish 436; Direct TV 669)

Other Fox Networks and affiliates have also picked up the show go to

www.locatetv.com or http://areyouwatchingthis.com/tv/programs/SH011093200000-Birding-Adventures/18015786 to find BATV in your area. Check your local cable provider channels for cable listings.

www.untamedsportstv.com) at the following days and times:

www.BirdingAdventures.com or email info@birdingadventures.com

It’s Not About Your Cat, It’s About MY Birds!

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

Did you hear that? It is the sound of my soap box being pulled out of the closet and dusted off. I have been wanting to write about a very big pet peeve of mine for some time…so now that my birds are gone, here goes.

As a birder, it goes without saying that I am a conservationist. As a purple martin landlord, that just adds fuel to the fire and makes me even more pig headed when it comes to the house cat being outdoors. First off a few facts MUST be cleared up.

Fact #1 Cats are domesticated animals-not wild. Many people consider letting their cat room outside as an extension of the cats native environment. They consider it cruel to keep cats indoors. When actually the opposite is true. Cats were domesticated some 4,000 (four THOUSAND) years ago. They do not occur naturally anywhere. They have only been in North America since European Settlers arrived.

Fact#2 Cats hunt and kill whether or not they are hungry. Studies show that well fed cats actually kill MORE than feral cats. In other words they hunt for pleasure. The portion of the cats brain that is used to hunt is not the same part of the brain that registers hunger. Thus a cat will hunt even if it just ate a huge bowl of food. They hunt to kill, not necessarily to eat. Also neutering and spaying have no impact on a cats desire to hunt.

Fact#3 Studies have shown that Bells do not keep cats from killing. On the contrary bells may actually make cats more successful at hunting. Besides the fact that a bird does not necessarily associate the sound of a bell with danger, bells teach a cat how to hunt even more efficiently. The cat will learn how to move silently. And bells are of no help when a nest full of helpless nestlings is being stalked. Consider this product called the CatBib. Their website has a study that was conducted that shows an 81% decrease in the amount of BIRD KILLS! That is impressive. Unquestionably more effective than a bell this device allows the cat free movement, is soft, flexible and lightweight yet restricts a cats ability to stalk prey.

Fact#4 Cats kill HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of birds nationwide per year. That is no trivial number even though it is a low ball number. According to a post on Windstar.org that estimates over a BILLION birds are killed each year in the US alone. And looking at the math, that number may be conservative as well.

Follows is a sobering quote from www.Windstar.org :
The American Veterinary Medical Association estimate in 2007 there were 81,721,000 pet cats in the U.S.
According to Cat Fanciers, 43% of cat owners allow their pets to roam outside, that gives us: 35.1 million outdoor pet cats in the U.S. Add the number of feral and stray cats. numbers published by feral cat advocacy groups say there are between 60 to 100 million cats. Lets just take half that number say 81 million.

So that’s 81.7 million + 35.1 million = 116.8 million outdoor cats. More realistic might be a range of 95.1 to 135.1 million (based on possible feral range). But for arguments sake, lets just stick with 116.8 million cats for now.

How many birds killed by cats? According to a study in Michigan by Lepczyk et al, outdoor pet cats across an urban to rural gradient killed an average of .683 birds each week during the breeding season. If you can extrapolate that across the full year, that would be an average of 35.5 birds killed by each cat/each year. If you can use that figure for all outdoor cats, you get a calculation of 4.1 billion birds killed each year.

But maybe cats don’t kill birds at the same rate all year long, or at the same rate everywhere that they do in Michigan. But lets presume that the only kill birds during the breeding season (22 weeks in MI), that would still be 1.76 billion birds killed per year.

Another study in San Diego found each cat to kill an average of 15 birds per year (and 41 other small animals). If you multiply this number by the number of outdoor cats you get 1.75 billion birds killed per year. And that’s just in the U.S. and doesn’t take into account our migratory birds killed by cats in Canada or Latin America.”

Fact#5 Cats are responsible for the EXTINCTION of 33 bird species since the 1600′s. That is more bird species than any other cause, except habitat destruction. Currently there are dozens of seriously threatened birds that are still experiencing high levels of predation due to cats. Ground nesting birds, such as the Piping Plover, Least Tern and California Tern are even more at risk and several monitored nesting sites have been abandoned by these birds due to cats.


So you know all this data and you still feel it necessary to let your cat out. If that is the case, you are placing more value on your cats experiences outside than the animals that it will kill in its time outdoors.

If you think your cats rodent killing is a positive, think about this. Each mouse that a cat kills is decreasing the available food supply for native hawks, owls, snakes and other predator species.

If you believe TNR (Trap Neuter Release) programs work to decreasing the problems caused by feral cats, I urge you to visit TNR Reality Check. This site offers an eye opening reason why TNR programs are a huge dis-service to the community, environment and our birds. Most importantly it show why these TNR programs do NOT work.

So if bells don’t work, what can be done. The American Bird Conservancy runs a program called “Cats Indoors!” which I am a big supporter of. (I am available to give PowerPoint presentations of the “Cats Indoors!” programs to groups, BTW)

Don’t have a cat and want to make a difference? Re-Tweet this post and help inform birders and cat lovers alike.


Sources:

Coleman, Temple and Craven  (1997). Facts on cats and wildlife: a conservation dilemma., USDA cooperative extension, University of Wisconsin. http://www.cnr.vt.edu/extension/fiw/wildlife/damage/Cats.pdf

TNR Reality Check

Winter, Linda and Wallace, George (2006) Impacts of Feral and Free-Ranging Cats on Bird Species of Conservation Concern

Roost Makes News

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

The Broward edition of the Miami Herald ran the story on the Davie roost today. You can read the article HERE.

We drove down to the roost and did not see any martins but we were a tad early so it is hard to say if the roost has, in fact disbanded. It is just about time for the birds to move out but I can not say for sure. My 2 kids were quite tired and I could not bare to have them sit in the car for another 30 minutes to see if the martins would show up. I will have to depend on any of you that may life closer to update me and the blog as to the roosts status.

The story was very nice and a special thank you to the journalist, Julie Levin, who was so patient waiting to see “my” purple martins. Remember, there are photos of the roost at my photo gallery and there is also a video of the roost that is quite nice.

The babies on the nestcam have officially all fledged and the gourd was empty for most of the day. They are sleeping in the gourd tonight though. Looking so big and grown up. Thankfully all the babies appear nice, fat and healthy. Unlike some issues that seem to be going on up North our temperatures, though hot are not too bad and the rain is enough to cool things down plus keep the bugs abundant.

Purple Martin Emergencies-New ONLINE info source!

Many northern landlords are having serious issues with very abnormal low temps and landlords are reporting nest failures and dead babies by the dozens. Early jumpers due to the extreme heat in Texas has been reported and supplemental feedings can save lives. For those with babies that need care, our parent site, www.PurpleMartins-R-Us.com has a page dedicated to Emergencies INCLUDING how to give food and fluids to purple martins, contact info for Wildlife Rehabilitators and more. Feel free to check this information out.

©2009 PurpleMartinArt.com

Purple Martin Pre-Migratory Roost Spectacular

Friday, June 26th, 2009

New Roost @ the Tower Shops in Davie

I finally made it to the new location of the Davie roost. The Tower Shops. I got there early, about 7:15 pm and thought instantly that I was going to have a problem. Unlike the old roost location at the Davie Road Racetrac gas station. This plaza was HUGE! A gigantic and busy strip mall with 4 big anchor stores, a Costco, Home Depot, several large restaurants, fast food joints and a Chevron gas station, all on one huge corner lot that had to be a mile wide.

A quick glance around and i saw a few token martins but more Starlings and Grackles than anything. I was meeting Julie Levin from the Sun-Sentinal and not only did i want to see a show, I wanted her to see it too. There is nothing more fun than sharing your OCD obsession with someone who hasn’t heard you talk about it before. Lord knows my poor husband is OVER birds at this point. By the time August comes around he can’t wait for me to take all the bird houses down and get back to being “normal”.

When 8 pm rolled around and all I saw was a few distant swirls of maybe 100 birds I thought I was going to be in for a huge let down but I was not to be disappointed…not tonight. By 8:25 I was surrounded by my birds. All over as far as the eye could see. The video camera does the scene no justice. For every 2 inches of sky you see with the camera, there is 180 degrees of more of the same. Thousands of birds twirl with distant dots of more birds behind them coming at you as if it were never going to stop. Almost as if God was pouring purple martins out of the sky and onto your lap. It was a true joy to watch and I could visit every night.

© 2009 S.Halpin / PurpleMartinArt.com

Sometimes It’s More Than Martins

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

This past season, as some of you may know, the local newspaper did a very small write up about me and my colony.  (Check out the video HERE!) The journalist wrote furiously and asked her questions and as these things go , I was quite pleased with how it turned out. Other than a few small errors and the fact that my hair looked AWFUL. But such is life and such is my curse. Whenever a camera points my way my hair decides to point whatever way it wants.

Anyway, after the article came out I got numerous calls and emails from some very nice people. Some of which had been trying for quite some time to get Purple Martins in their backyard. Usually with no success as yet. If I could pick out a common thread in peoples difficulties, I would say the main problem seems to be trees.

One lovely lady stands out in my mind. She lives on 5 acres of heavily wooded land. Recently widowed the middle aged woman wants to see Purple Martins fill the house with life. As it is now the plastic house stands like a lonely reminder to the memory of her loving husband who put the house up shortly before his unexpected passing recently.

As I stood looking at the Purple Martin house I noted a few things. It is your standard beginners house, small compartments with round holes. The distance to her house was fine but the surrounding woods were the problem. Though the tree line was approx 30 feet on 3 sides, the Pine trees themselves were over 40 feet tall and packed together tight. They seemed to tower over the Purple Martin house. Even though the martin house was up on its pole, the trees loomed. They reminded me of the trees in the “Wizard Of Oz”, ready to come to life and begin to throw pine cones at us at any moment. All in all, a great place for a hawk to ambush. Any Purple Martins would basically have to fly in from overhead and dive straight down. No flyways here. I gave her some advice-mainly to cut back some trees IF possible (at least top them), enlarge compartments, hang a gourd or two, SREH, Decoys and Dawnsong and hopefully next season she will get a Purple Martin to at least land on her housing.

Though her husband and soul mate was taken from her without time for a goodbye, a visit from a purple bird would go a long way to healing her heart.

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin/ PurpleMartins-R-Us.com

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/ PurpleMartins-R-Us.com

June 29, 2008 Roost Video

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

I said I was going to video tape the roost and by GOD I did. I am a woman of my word.

8 or so Martins visiting on the housing. Seems like small family groups. I have noticed that the fledglings seem to enter the compartments whereas the adults will only peer in. I took down the barn and gave it a quick cleaning. I will give it a more intensive cleaning perhaps tomorrow. It was pretty thick with filth. Ah, the things we do for love.

Nest Change Video

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Basic information for Purple Martin Landlords who wish to do nest changes on their Martins. A simple why and how.

Blog/Photos & Video Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin / www.PurpleMartins-R-Us.com

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