Posts Tagged ‘gourd rack’

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.

Pole Drama Mama

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Before I opened our business, I did what many people do that want to try their hand at Purple Martins. I went out and purchased an inexpensive plastic house. With the cheap house came a cheap triangular pole, and with the cheap pole came a cheap feeder/platform tray that slides over the pole.

Last year I had big problems with egg shells sliding down the inner opening of the platform feeder and sliding down in between the pole sections. What resulted was severe sticking of the pole. So when I attempted to circumvent this issue this year by gluing a barrier around the opening, I was confident it would succeed. NOT! My gorilla glue lasted about 2 months in the sun and came unglued allowing the bits of shell to slide, once again, down the inner hole and in between the pole sections. What resulted was the delay of nest checks on the Sunset Inn house and today’s story.

As you may or may not realize, I do not sell these triangular poles on my site. I had a gourd rack on a triangular pole that I phased out this year with the new Economy 12 gourd rack and I am sorry I did not go ahead and phase the triangular poles out in their entirety. It has been a continued headache.

I greatly underestimated my desire to hoist up a telescopic pole every few days. Last year one of the plastic tabs that keeps the triangular telescopic pole locked in place broke and I had to use a long bolt in the opening to extend the pole. One pole bent about 10 degrees in a thunderstorm and one developed a very slight bend that made bringing the pole up and down difficult. Then of course there was the problem of the egg shells getting inside the pole sections. I can assure you that next year all my poles will be pulley operated.

What does this all mean to someone that wants to get into Purple Martins without spending SEVERAL hundred dollars? One can easily spend upwards of $500 to $1000 (and more) for a sweet purple martin set up. Does this mean that you should NOT try your hand at purple martins? No, it only means that if you choose to go the frugal way into the hobby do not be surprised if within a few years you find yourself wishing you had a sweet tricked out Purple Martin set up. Do not feel badly that your cheap system has let you down. You may just find that you have outgrown it.

So what do I have on my triangular pole? I placed my aluminum Sunset Inn house on it with a custom made mounting plate. It seems to be hanging in there just fine. It’s my arms that are giving out. And other than the egg shell pain in my noodle, it will serve out this season (I hope) with honor. Finally after a can of WD-40 and much prying and wiggling and banging it came free. 3 delayed nest checks later I was finally able to lower the Sunset Inn and check it and the 2 gourds hanging under it. What did I find? Both gourds have eggs, a total of 7 more for the count and the house itself has eggs but I don’t know how many. “Why is that?”, you ask. Look and see.

This is why I love these birds. Stupid? No, she knew it was me. I was fooling with the pole for some minutes, calling out to my husband and when I heard a rustling and looked, there she sat. Calm and trusting. Watching me and knowing. Partners we are. Tethered and wild. Human and not. Surface dweller and flying free. Working together by the grace of God and under His watchful eye. How can one not want to put up a Purple Martin house?

 (c) Blog contents copyright 2009 S.Halpin/

Martins, Martins Everywhere! 2/19/09

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

In recent posts I have speculated that Purple Martins were spending more time at home and that nesting should begin soon. Well, nesting has not yet started but it can not be far off. I do not believe there was any significant portion of time today that my Purple Martins were away from home. At 2 PM they were still crawling all over the housing and chortling away. I am confident that I will have no vacancies as I counted at least 15 Martins at one time and saw pairs defending compartments all day long. The noise is a true blessing and reminds me of the gifts of life and joy and God, all wrapped up in a purple package. The activity and song has such an exuberance to it. It is hard to remember how desolate my yard becomes when the Martins are not here.

The gourd rack is the winner again but not as clear cut as last year. Though the CUENT Economy Gourd rack was first to welcome home Purple Martins, the Sunset Inn house is taking on house guests. I estimate 2 pairs in the house and at least one bachelor ASY male. A solo male in an Excluder gourd hanging under the house and at least half of the gourd rack is housing ASY Purple Martins. Not one SY yet to be seen BUT I have a feeling that I am thrilled and looking forward to nest building to commence. I wish I had the means to put up another house or rack for them as I hate to think that any Purple Martins would want for a nest site. I have seen many houses get boarded up with the housing crisis and know that these birds have been facing these challenges for some time. If only there were more people out there that were interested not just being environmentally friendly, but “environmentally intimate”.

There is nothing more intimate and precious than watching the cycle of life unfold so dramatically right in your own backyard.  Counting the eggs in the nest and marking the hatch day on the calander. Counting the nestlings as they emerge from their shells. Watching them grow and feather out over the course of a month. Holding them and whispering well wishes and prayers as you place them back in their nest for the last time. Then waiting and watching the parents coax the fledglings out into the world. Knowing that the parents will return every year, trusting me with their young. Watching over me as I say my little prayers. Waiting with bugs in their mouths, to feed the hungry youngsters, whose appetites never seem to wane. “I’m hurrying…I’m hurrying” I’ll say to them, as if they understand.   This is what I do. And Autumn will be here too soon. Leaving my yard silent.

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2009: S.Halpin/