Archive for the ‘Webcam’ Category

Starlings and Fledgelings and Jumpers, OH MY!

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

So much news and I have really been negligent on the blog. My apologies but between helping customers of, 2 kids, a busy colony and a landscape project…I have been swamped!

Bad news is the BirdCam has turned out to be a huge disappointment this year. I invested more money and hired a “computer geek” who, in MY opinion, swindled me out of my money. I was very specific with what I wanted my streaming camera to be and instead ended up with what he felt was good enough. But enough said about that…

My landscaping project turned out pretty well. Nothing huge. Just redoing the front of the house which had become a snake haven. I moved 3 cubic yards of large egg rock (that’s about 3 tons worth) over the course of a week and achieved my goal of having the front be presentable. Many thanks to Lawrence over at who gave me some tips and ideas for the fountain. It is a disappearing fountain that recycles water as it flows down a stepped “mini river” of sorts. Though his is much more natural looking and longer, mine was created with basically stuff I already had laying around. A preformed pond liner, pond pump and hardware cloth. I only added the spitter from Lowes and the preformed stepped river portion was on CLEARANCE for $14! My husband admits it came out better than he thought it would. Of course, he is used to my projects…some of which turn out badly.

The purple martins are fledging all over the place. I think there are more youngsters flying about today than babies in nests. 2 skinny jumpers were found on the ground from a nest that I am sure the parents abandoned. Perhaps an Owl or Hawk got them. But I placed them in a low hanging gourd with youngsters in it. I could not lower the rack as so many nests were over 20 days old. For those that do not know, once nests are over 20 days old, babies can jump out during nest checks from fright. The PMCA recommends that you block off entrances to those nests that are over 2o days old…some say 22 days old by attaching a rag to a string then pulling out the rag once the housing is back up for a few minutes. Just wait 2 or 3 minutes for them to settle down and then pull the rag out. But since so most of my nest were over 20-24 days old, it just wasn’t possible. So I saw them begging and no one feeding them and watched helplessly until they jumped and gave them some Gatorade before sticking them in the new gourds. Remember, you can read about common purple martin emergencies and what to do at our store site

Starlings took up residence in a flicker box located way to close to my house for the woodpeckers to be interested. But a pair of starlings did. Since no one else wanted the nest box, I let them nest and waited until they were incubating to catch them. I learned something very interesting about them. Once they decided to nest, I was hard pressed to see them both at the same time. They were very quiet, almost as if they knew that I was on to them. I did get a great pic of a starling nest. Very different from a martin nest. Of course, I could have pierced the eggs with a small sharp pin, addled (shook them VIGOROUSLY), or coated them with a thin coat of mineral oil, and let momma starling waste half a season.

Purple Martin Scouts

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Among one of the most dearly held false hoods regarding purple martins, is the one of the infamous “scouts”. Long to be believed as birds sent ahead to gather intelligence, that then return to tell their flock to start migration back North, scouts are really just the first returning birds. Scouts is still the term we use, for these first arrivers and they are always ASY (After Second Year) birds who are more experienced and familiar with the instinctual urge to fly back North to nest. The PMCA (Purple Martin Conservation Association) has the best online tracking tool for landlords that scout reportwant to know how far purple martins are from them. One can see this scout  map at Another option is to Follow us  on TWITTER. We tweet all kinds of martin related info, pictures from our colony and more. You can also LIKE us on Facebook. Just look for PurpleMartins-R-Us and click “Like”.

Our colony has tons of eggs at a nest check yesterday and even 1 nest with 5 babies. They ranged in age from 3 days old to 1 day old and seem fat and healthy. I am sure these early nests will do well as the weather has been mild and even weekly rain. Though we aren’t getting as much rain as we should, we are not as dry as last year when we had big losses from a drought.

A quick note about our BirdCam. It is up. We do not, at this time, have sound and the nest cams are turned off, so that birds can nest. But it is the best we can do. Webcams are not our forte and this cam has been a huge expense for us. Not knowing what we are doing, we sought the help of PalmBeachGeek to get the one we have online. There is a limit to the number of people that can be watching the cams at any one time, so if it doesn’t work, keep trying. Also if it doesn’t work for you, send us a quick email letting us know what your problem is, what internet explorer you are using (Firefox, Internet Explorer,Chrome) and we will try to improve things as we work out the kinks.

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!

ASY’s Singing With Abandon

Friday, February 4th, 2011

The colony activity here in West Palm Beach has certainly kicked up a notch. The male purple martins are even heard singing while still in there gourds. I opened up the other gourd rack and filled them with pine straw. Artificial gourds should be filled with a few handfuls of pine straw to prevent them being unable to exit the slick plastic gourds. Even with the black traction strip in my Troyer Horizontal Gourds, they can be difficult, if not impossible to exit. So make sure you place some nesting material in those gourds. I know “some” ultra conservative birders may scoff at giving purple martins this help. They see it as unnecessary interference. But that thinking is flawed. It has nothing to do with altering nature but more to do with preventing a birds death by our hand.

The Purple Martin colonycam is up and averaging about 90% up-time.

WebCam up and Martins Arriving Almost Daily

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Yes, the Colonycam/webcam is up and is streaming the exterior view of a portion of our colony. I am NOT thrilled with the stream provider and my apologies for the annoying ads that pop up. Believe it or not, gets nothing for those ads. If I want to stream the webcam without the ads I have to fork over about $100 a month. So unless I win the lottery, that isn’t going to happen. I am investigating other ways to stream the cam but it’s all a learning process so I beg for your understanding and patience.

We are up to about 5 ASY purple martins here at our colony in Florida. The last few days had some cold temps in the 30’s at night and tonight and tomorrow will have strong rain showers with high winds.

I wanted to re-post one of my favorite posts regarding cold weather and supplemental feedings for those up north that will be getting martins soon. Since flying insects are pretty much dormant when temps dip below 40 degrees having supplemental feeding trays available can be just as welcome to purple martins as birdseed to cardinals.


Extended Cold Spells TROUBLE for Purple Martins

Though it may make a cute picture, the mix of purple martins and extended adverse weather spells almost certain death for our feathered friends. And by extended weather, we are only talking about 2 days or more. Knowing what you can do will help your colony survive these early spring cold snaps.

Adverse weather, to a purple martin, is 2 or more days of steady rain and/or wind and/or cold temperatures below 40F. Only one of these conditions will make it virtually impossible for a purple martin to find enough food to sustain itself.

Being strict aerial insectivores, purple martins have no recourse when it comes to extended weather issues. They can’t forage for food on the ground and when temperatures dip, flying insects are no where to be found. With our crazy weather patterns we have been having and severe snow storms that have it snowing as far south as Florida, it is important to know what you can do.

So what should you do? ACT FAST! Don’t wait for your birds to be too weak to fly before offering supplemental feeding. Purple martins have to be trained to accept our help as they do not recognize food left out for them. If you wait too long your entire ASY purple martin population can die from starvation in just a few short days.

Supplemental Feeding of Purple Martins 101

Q: What do you feed a purple martins?

A: Crickets are the first choice for beginners. Mealworms or Scrambled Eggs are good once they learn to accept what you offer. But these items must be prepared. Mealworms and crickets (if live) should be frozen -till dead, then thawed thoroughly. They can be soaked in water and drained before feeding. Eggs should be cooked using NO oil or butter of any type.

Q: How do you feed a purple martin?

A: Martins that have never accepted supplemental feedings have to be taught or conditioned to eat food we offer them. After a day or 2 of adverse weather, approach the colony slowly. Use a large plastic spoon and fling a cricket up in the air in the general direction of the martins, up over them…remember you aren’t trying to hit the martins with the food. You want them to see the food flying past them. Continue this for 10 to 15 minutes. Most folks report that by the end of that time one or two birds will try to catch what they see flying by and once one starts, others will follow.

Once they accept food from you, the crickets (mealworms or scrambled eggs) can be placed on an elevated platform feeder and they will eat it off of the platform.

Visit this link on Supplemental Feeding of Adult Purple Martins for more information.


Purple Martin Season Is Over for 2010

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

SY maleIt’s official, the last of the nests have fledged and all the babies have taken to the air. A hawk was making daily visits and though I am sure (s)he got at least 2 fledglings, I am sure more fell victim. I was unable to get a good look so I am hoping it was the resident Red Shouldered Hawk, a slower and larger hawk that poses a formidable threat but less so than the smaller faster Coopers Hawk that are common in South Florida also.

The Red Shouldered hawks nest close by and protect this as their territory from other hawks. If that can be counted as protection…I am not too sure.

Night time is quiet and I am not sure if many martins are returning to the nests to roost at night. They may have moved on to a local assembly area or pre-migratory roost. The fact that I am talking about the roosts already almost sounds crazy! Can time have flown by so fast? I guess I will start planning another trip to the roost in Davie this year.  It has almost been exactly a year since I went to see it and video taped it. You can see it at my blog post titled Purple Martin Pre-Migratory Roost Spectacular. It is a great YouTube clip taken at the roost with swarms of purple martins.

The webcam will not be up again for the remainder of this year as the computer I had it running on is dead. I plan on replacing it as soon as I can and it will be up again next January. I promise.

©2010 / S.Halpin

Afternoon Storms and Brutal Heat

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

With the heat index in the 100’s the fierce thunderstorms are ALMOST welcome. I say almost because with each of these storms severe winds of upwards of 45 MPH that would last past sunset, have inflicted some damage.

The nest of mockingbirds right outside our garage was blown down and the 2 partially feathered nestlings had perished. The large Sabal Palms lost a few fronds and the seed pods that the mockingbirds had made their nest in was woefully inadequate for the punishing winds.

The purple martins hung on to their perches well into the night seemingly afraid to detach themselves. I suspect an attempt to find protection within their nests would have had them blown away at some point during the storm. Fortunately the storm died down and all seemed quite but the previous week had these storms coming in almost on a daily schedule.

The winds were no problem for the martin poles. So other than the mockingbird casualties, all is well. Unfortunately the same can not be said for the laptop which ran the colony cam, so no live web cam at the moment. A new laptop is on the want list…any one???

Pesky Starling

Monday, February 15th, 2010

After capturing the female in the old faithful S&S Repeating Nest box trap, the male continues to come by. Usually in silence, he lurks on the gourd rack watching the goings on around him. I have left him alone for now. For no other reason except that he poses no real threat AND I am a horrible shot.

The S&S awaits him and I am sure that when he finds a girl to bring by she may take a gander at the trap herself. I do have my old plastic martin house attached to the side of my home that I welcome any starlings to nest in. Since the house will not attract anything other than the starlings, in my neighborhood, it should do nicely as a trap.

The S&S repeater trap plans are available as is the ASSEMBLED trap also. The assembled trap is already put together and only requires minimal assembly of the pole.

I still have not noticed any SY martins and due to some odd weather the martins seem to be out feeding a lot. Between record low cold fronts and rain storms with gusting winds upward of 30 mph, the martins seem to be conserving their energy.  Remember that you can watch the exterior of the colony on our live streaming webcam at

Purple Martin Colony Cam is Up

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Yes, last week the purple martin colony cam went online. What is the colony cam? Well, it is the exterior view of a portion of my purple martin colony. Located in Sunny South Florida (Loxahatchee, which is western palm beach county, to be exact) the colony consists of 2 gourd racks and 1 multipurpose pole. The camera is currently on the “numbered” purple martin gourd rack.

As of right now there is capacity for 33 pairs but a few more gourds will go up bumping up this years capacity to about 36 pairs of purple martins. Last year 131 purple martins fledged from this site and we hope to do as well this year.

As of this morning there appears to be 2 pairs of martins. More should be showing up soon. Since migration appeared to have been delayed due to weather, the time between the ASY or adult purple martins arrival and the SY or sub adults arrival may be shorter than usual. So be prepared and get your houses up. If you live in the northern portion of the purple martins range and don’t expect them till later in the year, feel free to watch them on the web cam which should be running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…barring any technical issues which sometimes arise.

A few European Starlings keep making early morning visits but will not enter my nest trap. The first day they arrived the starlings tried to enter the trap which was stuck and since then they seem in no hurry to enter it again. Of course, it is working now but as my luck would have it, they wont even look at it again. Instead the starlings will sit and watch from atop the gourd rack and do that drawn out backwards wolf whistle that makes my hair stand up. Like fingernails on a chalk board. Normally the repeating nestbox trap also known as a S&S trap would do the trick and trap them like a charm but alas, you can lead a horse to water…  For easy to build step by step plans on how to make your own S&S trap click on the photo above or this link:  Repeating Sparrow and Starling nestbox trap plans. But in essence the trap has a clever teeter totter type mechanism that automatically resets itself after depositing the trapped bird (UNHARMED) in a cage below. A great tool for those that manage bluebird trails as well. Our native birds need all the help they can get!

Plastic Purple Martin Houses

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Do plastic houses work? Sure and many purple martins raise families in plastic houses. For me, my first purple martin house (a plastic house) was an inexpensive way to discover that I really wanted to get into these birds and in short order I switched over to a gourd rack with a pulley system and an Aluminum martin house. (That I LOVE) I have not looked back yet.

As a purple martin landlord myself, do I recommend plastic martin houses? Usually not.

Many people shopping for a purple martin house turn towards plastic martin houses for 1 of 2 reasons. Reason #1 is Cost. Reason #2 is fear of internet shopping. Let me explain.

Reason #1 COST!

I realize that purple martin houses can seem expensive to the purple martin newbie. If your main concern is the cost of purple martin houses, take a few things into consideration. A basic wooden Bluebird nestbox at Walmart costs almost $30.00. It will only house one pair of Bluebirds. As you know, purple martins are colonial nesters and nest in the company of other purple martins. The price of a 6 room Sunset Inn Aluminum House costs $150.00. That comes out to $25.00 a compartment. Now I know the price of the pole is separate…as it would also be with a bluebird nestbox, but my point is, the cost pretty much equals out. Especially when you consider the extra added fun 5 more pairs of birds could ultimately provide. Now I know that a plastic bird house is a LOT cheaper. Heck the price for a COMPLETE plastic house set up with a pole is $145 at PurpleMartins-R-Us. That comes to about $12.00 per compartment, at first glance. BUT you have to factor in that those compartments need to be enlarged. SO now we are back down to 6 compartments. So that’s about $24.00 per compartment. AND factor in that the quality, longevity  and other issues and that deal doesn’t seem like such a deal anymore.

Reason #2 Internet shopping fear

Trust me, I know how it is. You may be interested in getting into the hobby. But you want to touch the martin house you are going to buy. You want to hold the package and read what it says. You want to be able to look someone in the eye as you hand over your dough. I know, I know. That is the drawback of internet buying. Go into your local Lowe’s or Home Depot and all you will find are those plastic purple martin houses. Many of the high quality wood and aluminum purple martin bird houses available on the internet are NOT available in stores. The superstores buy thousands of product at a time. Higher quality martin houses are built by hand. Many of these houses are built by Amish companies and you couldn’t find them in a brick and mortar  store if you tried.

So when it comes to cost the old adage of getting “what you paid for” applies. Trust me, if the manufacturers of the plastic houses had a $200 product, they would charge it and if the wood and aluminum houses were not worth the money they cost, the people that make them would be out of a job.

I don’t want folks to think I don’t make a habit of recommending plastic houses because I don’t sell many of them. I do sell martin houses on my website, but I usually recommend a higher quality house or gourds.  For the most part, I try to stay away from the “plastic house” controversy. And believe me there is a huge controversy.

When I read this post by Carole on her blog I thought I would recommend her blog post as a read so that you can see other folks experiences with plastic martin houses. There are a few posts about the author’s purple martins and her changing from a plastic purple martin house to a wooden purple martin house. Reading her experiences will give you input on some of the drawbacks of plastic houses. If you are on the fence about what kind of purple martin house to get, just keep it in mind. is owned and operated by active purple martin landlords. We are a specialty store that knows what works with purple martins because we host them every year. As always we are always here to help you with any questions that you may have about martins.

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