Posts Tagged ‘purple martin’

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/

And We’re OFF!!! (1/11/09 The Purple Martins are Home)

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

I grew up next to a Dog Track as a kid. Back then it was a off limits to minors. In the summer they would have a week when all the kids could come and they would get free hot dogs and soda. It was great. I remember the feeling of excitement as “speedy” the rabbit was coming around the bend towards the start box. Then the crowd would fall silent and the announcer would pause…then he would holler, “AND THEY’RE OFF!!!!!” and the crowd of kids would erupt in cheers.

As soon as I woke up this morning, I did what I usually do. Look out the window at the gourd rack, then to the electrical pole on the side yard. Much to my surprise a gorgeous, glorious pair of ASY Purple Martins was sitting in the favorite spot preening and fussing with their feathers. You could tell they had just had breakfast and were sitting to pretty up for the rest of the day. I was exstatic of course. I mean, I had seen my first Purple Martin on the 8th flying and calling over head but had not seen her since. Then this morning when I saw the pair I could almost hear the announcers voice in my ear…”and we’re off” It whispered.

Purple Martins

Purple Martins

I stood outside and just looked at them and on cue the female took off and made a slow graceful swoop over me and the rack and called out once. Her little chirrup. Then landed back in the same spot, next to her friend and continued to fuss with her feathers. I sat and watched silently along with them. The male sang his sing song chatter to her, she answered back and that was all that was said. Shake, preen, scratch, shake, preen, preen, stretch. Now my family is complete.

Just then I heard my 4 year crying and my husband scolding him for “sassing”. Oh well, maybe I’ll make the trip to Brazil and you guys stay here? The Martins flew off to eat some more and I went inside to the front lines. Shore leave is over for now.

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2009: S.Halpin/

We are Purple Martin Landlords!!!

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Sometimes I believe that the essential thing that sets us apart from other animals is that we define ourselves. We have some sort of conception of who we are. Who are you? By even asking the question we show that “Who” is an essential and fundamental part of our life. Speaking for myself, I am always in flux on “who I am” at the moment. Most of the time, to my husbands chagrin, I am a “mom”. I try to keep “wife” close to the top of the list, but it seems that as I get older, instead of figuring out “who I am” more clearly, I discover that there are more layers to me than I ever knew existed. Of course I am sometimes things I don’t want to be. For example; I have no desire to be a psychologist but between my family and my kids, I feel like I am constantly either wearing a white coat or feeling like I want to put someone in a straight jacket. When I am up till 3 AM painting in one of my crazy artistic compulsions, I am an artist…but when I wake up the next morning at 6AM with the kids, I REALLY wish I was not.

Of course, many of you reading this define yourself (as do I) as a Purple Martin Landlord or Steward. This feels like a relatively new role for me that I am remarkably happy about. Though being a Purple Martin Landlord isn’t a job, it can often feel like one with all the blood, sweat and tears we put into it. But it’s not that hard. It comes naturally. I mean geez, it’s not brain surgery. It’s not an exclusive club that requires decades of experience before you can lay claim to basic knowledge.

Being a Purple Martin Landlord is a mix of passion, real interest, concern and love for a blue-ish black bird with a slightly forked tail.

Being a Landlord doesn’t require battle scars, but you will get them.

Being a Landlord doesn’t require admission or acceptance from any club, organization or group, only from those same birds we seek so desperately.

Being a Purple Martin Landlord doesn’t require a degree/diploma or certificate, only the ability to constantly seek out these birds and the answers that will help us to help them.

I am a Purple Martin Landlord. And I am glad you are one too.

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin/

Houses and Gourd Racks and Poles, OH MY!!

Friday, November 7th, 2008
I can hardly believe that in less than 90 days or so, my birds will be back. Once again my days will be filled with the sound of the martins singing outside. I will also be once again, consumed with these blue-ish/black birds. Nest checks, nest changes, Starling invaders! I can’t wait! Well, except for the Starlings…I can do without those…

I am so proud of the development that has been made at Now, among the huge selection of Purple Martin gifts such as shirts, hats, decorative tiles, jewelry, art prints, signs, windcatchers and so much more, We now have a large selection of quality housing available. Aluminum house systems from Trendsetter.Purple Martin House

Purple Martin WatersEdge 14
Purple Martin WatersEdge 14


Purple Martin House - Sunset Inn 
Purple Martin House – Sunset Inn

To name a few. We also carry the Trio castle, Sunset Inn and Lonestar line of Purple Martin Houses (Alamo & Goliad houses)

Purple Martin Houses by Lonestar 
Purple Martin Houses by Lonestar

 And I have not even MENTIONED the Purple Martin Gourd Racks!! So much happening!

Gourd racks by Creative Universe Enterprises are on MY own Christmas list and I will be replacing my current S&K quad pole with one of the CUE systems. It is just too heavy for me to lift on a telescopic pole. But now I am starting to dream out loud again. 
I can’t wait!!!


Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin/

Folke Peterson Wildlife Center

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

I recently posted about my desire to help my local rehab center obtain Purple Martin housing. You may or may not know what is my relationship with Folke Peterson Wildlife Center. It all started with an injured fledgling I named Beau. On his maiden flight (or shortly thereafter) he got stuck in a metal chain link fence for an unknown amount of time. By the time I noticed he was in distress, he was weak and dehydrated. Beau was rehabbed by Folke Peterson and owes his life, as do many animals, to the people that work there.

You may be wondering what I am doing to help FPWC, as I am asking people if they would like to donate to FPWC. I mean, Geez, ”You have a website and sell all kinds of stuff and even Purple Martin Housing-just donate one of the houses you sell.” Well, if I was independently wealthy, I would. I have wholesale agreements with the people whose Purple Martin Housing I sell but none of them are free. Folke Peterson will have the option to purchase (at wholesale prices-for NO profit) from my site any of the housing I sell. OR since it is their donation money they can purchase it from whatever source they wish. My MAIN interest is helping them to get housing up. Do I have ulterior motives? YES! Because I know that when people see Purple Martins in flight, they will be astounded. Others will then want to get Martin houses up of their own. Hundreds of children will be exposed to these birds. Perhaps some of them will tell Mom and Dad about these birds. Perhaps a few people will be as taken and fall completely in awe of them-as I have.  But I am off on a tangent.

Follows is an exerpt from their site about the history of the center:
“In 1969 Bonnie Findlay and her brother Wallace Findlay founded The Bambi Bird & Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the first wildlife rehabilitation operations in Florida, on 31 acres of undeveloped, Australian pine-wooded land west of State Road 7, (441), and just south of Southern Boulevard in Western Palm Beach County.

Bonnie and Wallace dedicated the rest of their lives to the cause of helping injured, sick, and orphaned wildlife, by nursing them back to health, and releasing them back into their natural habitat.

With little more than their own time, money, and unending compassion, they generously cared for this area’s native wildlife and protected the animals living on their designated sanctuary.

In February of 1997, a devastating fire destroyed the Findlay’s home and two other buildings. Tragically Wallace Findlay perished in this dreadful blaze. Bonnie was diagnosed with cancer soon after and passed away in 2000. But before she died, Bonnie decided to partner with The Folke Peterson Foundation, named after a South Florida dairy farmer who bequeathed more than $25 million dollars of his money to animal causes in 1989.

The causes and dreams of these two animal lovers, separated by time and distance, but with similar visions, came together in 2001 when the Peterson Foundation Trustees and Bambi’s Board of Directors agreed to construct and fund the building of a $2,000,000 facility on the property, while at the same time renaming Bambi as The Folke Peterson Wildlife Center, at the Findlay Sanctuary. The original board members of the Peterson Foundation, including Chairman Don Champion, Frank and Emily Van Vliet, Howard Usher, Rick Kornmeier and Sue Shearouse were instrumental in crystallizing this joint vision into a long range plan for the future that would include the state-of-the-art facility we have today.

“I spent much of my youth feeling lonely and out of place,” Wallace once said. “So when I see sick animals that are injured and scared, I feel compelled to help. My dream is to build a wildlife hospital here, and I know if I keep working towards this goal with purpose and dignity, it will come to pass.”

Through the dedication and hard work of countless people, both past and present, that dream is being fulfilled.

With the Findlays’ and Folke Peterson’s hopes for the future in our minds and hearts, we proudly carry on the work of saving wildlife, educating the public and preparing to ultimately become a teaching hospital for current and future wildlife veterinarians and wildlife rehabilitation professionals.”

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin/

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/

Getting my Martins in a row

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

I finally got the houses down and washed. The gourd rack is laying dejected on its side awaiting the final touched before being hoisted in to the garage. I am leaving all aspects of the rack intact except to place garbage bags over each individual gourd and taping it so that no critters can get in…or our for that matter. I am already on Google earth deciding where the next rack unit will go. Of course I have to decide what kind of rack I am going to go with. I am relatively sure it will be a gourd rack. But I may be swayed. I will let you know.

My fingers have been busy with painting and I have completed my best work yet. I call it “Gourd Martins” You can check out all my art at

As always you can visit for the largest selection of Purple Martin themed gifts, art, apparel and more coming everyday. Check us out!

I have also uploaded my art at by request. Now my art work is available with rich color duplication and archival inks. The prices are very competitive with great quality. They look like true art reproductions-not color copies. Check them out.

Jose’s Martins #1

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Jose greeted me today with a hearty “Hola!” and an invitation to have his Jell-o. He only likes the red Jell-o and he only gets the green. He tells me he has made several complaints-to no avail. I could tell him that hospitals and “homes” usually never give red Jell-o but I decide to nod my head in understanding. He finishes off his lunch and I wheel him to the courtyard.

I had many questions reeling in my head to ask him. About his martins, what brought him to Florida, his life in South America, his family or apparent lack there of. Today though, we will talk of Purple Martins. A subject free of any sadness or memories that can cause pain. He talks of his memories of hundreds of thousands of birds flying free and his spirits rise like they are lifted up by the martins themselves.

Jose was a handyman by trade. Odd jobs, car repairs, unlicensed electrical work was his forte. He laughed at my reaction to at least 4 stories of how he checked for current to electrical outlets and light sockets. I suppose whatever investment it would take to purchase a volt meter was out of the question. He would stick his finger in the socket. My disbelief is still quite strong even after his vehement and at length explanation on the difference between amps and watts and volts and I don’t even know! But on to the Purple Martins.

All his houses were handmade. He would use scrap wood and made great use of wooden pallets which he found in large quantities. Legally, I hope. The wood was rather thin and of poor quality but with a slathering of paint would last multiple seasons before needing repair or replacement. The rough wood was well liked by the martins. I showed him photos of my gourd rack and he snorted, “They look like Calabaza.” (A spanish pumpkin) I explained they were actually plastic and that brought another snort. He tried to explain his housing to me and the best I could understand is that they were 2 story square, flat roofed box type houses with no porches and round entrances. He did make the nests accessible but had a hands off approach. Usually 8 compartments per house and they were about 10 inches deep. He never used “plans” and would vary the housing depending on his whims. He estimated, at his height of “Land lording” he had about 100 pairs. “Puedia pero no queiria”, he explained. (I could have but didn’t want to) When referring to having more housing and Martins. The ‘explative’ Halcon’s (Hawks) made my life a misery, he recounted in Spanish. This was the only time when sadness entered our conversation. He told me of a season when he had fledgling’s taking to the air daily, only to be met with deadly talons and beak. His solution? “I went over into my neighbors yard one night and poisoned those trees…then I offered to cut them down over the winter for free. I was a big hero and everyone was happy.” The legalities didn’t seem to phase Jose or concern him in the least. I guess when you are 80-something you have worse things in your past to worry about than a few trees. “Susanita, can you find me help to the bathroom?”

Of course Jose…and I will see you soon.

July 4, 2008 Happy 4th of JULY!

Friday, July 4th, 2008

I just wanted to wish all of you a safe and happy 4th of July. My kids are looking forward to the fireworks.

I took the house down and have yet to give it its final wash. It sits in the grass as a lonely testament to the martins departure. I remember last year I was so worried about the house as I still had babies in a nest. I was worried that the mother would abandon them from all the smoke and fireworks that goes on out here. Thank goodness we have had alot of rain. No need to worry about wildfires this 4th…or what the martins will think.

Speaking of Purple Martins. I saw 1 today. A lone martin on the wire for about 5 minutes. Then he was gone. I am being over run by Grackles. They are trying to eat me out of bird seed. A faithful pair of cardinals tries to wait their turn at the feeder, the 1 fledgling they bring is so ugly…but cute. I chase the grackles away and that buys the cardinals a minute or two before the grackles return. The baby cardinal begs relentlessly at the feeder only centimeters away from seed. The male parent hulls the seed and stuffs it in his beak. So cute.

Mr. Roberts tells me that only a few dozen Martins are returning to the Davie roost.

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.