The Circle of Life

April 1st, 2020

Death and new life. A purple Martin colony is always a succinct example of the journey that all of God’s creatures must take. We do daily walk users to lookout for wing entrapment, but the walk under today was just too late. This beautiful ASY male was already dead. Fortunately, there were no other birds in the gourd and no eggs yet. I’m sure another male will snatch this gourd right up and sell it to a willing partner.

Question: Where Are My Birds?

March 28th, 2020

Someone recently asked the following question:
I checked the scout migration sighting i see someone posted they have martins in in the same town i had one pair last year i did not get them till june 5 are they still going to come what should i do ?

My response:
When you have such a small/new colony, it’s hard to say how the next season will go. The birds that nested at your house last year may not have survived the migration. So when you are first starting, there is a chance that you won’t get them back. Only a small percentage of babies that fledge from your house will return to that house. Most spread out to occupy other housing within a 50 mile radius. That being said, fledglings that came by last year to visit before they migrated will be your main source of new birds. My advice is stick with the basics. 1. Make sure your housing is safe from predators. Any predation in small/new colonies can have devastating effects. 2. dawnsong- keep advertising. Good luck!

Rain Fledgling Update

May 22nd, 2018

Day 12 of this terrible weather and all but 1 of the babies are holding their own. I am fattening them up but with more heavy rain in the forecast, I hesitate to release. They are still underweight, but have gained several grams. The biggest improvement comes from a 36 gram fledgling that appears to be about 24 days old and weighs now 44 grams.

There is Rain, and then there is RAIN

May 21st, 2018

Yesterday, someone posed the question on Facebook, “What kind of housing lets in so much water?”

Though it felt as though there was a bit of blame on the housing, living in South Florida I know that there are several kinds of rain. There is rain, and then there is RAIN. You have to understand that South Florida, by its very nature, is swamp. Not the friendly scenic swamp people envision, with palm trees and flamingos, but the dirty kind of swamp with alligators and mosquitoes that drive you to the brink of madness. Now granted, Florida was drained (for the most part) by the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers that cut a system of canals all over the state in order to drain said swamp. But the rain that drives the nature of this state still lurks below the surface waiting to inundate you with water unlike what Noah witnessed. OK, so that last bit was a bit hyperbolic, but still, it’s some crazy rain. Sideways blowing, bucket dumping, yard flooded, canals overflowing amounts of rain.

Now usually, these South Florida rains will come in the afternoons. We call it our monsoon season. Like clockwork, a sunny gorgeous day draws up the humidity and water from the central parts of the state (that ARE still swamp) then by 1 or 2ish in the afternoon, the sky turns black and the thunder booms. Usually a 1/2 hour worth of rain later, the sky clears and then the rest of the day clears up and by sunset, you are back to a gorgeous (and humid) day.

But this last week and a half has tried even the most native Floridians to the brink of madness. All day, all night, driving, dumping rains. UGH! Yesterday had us picking up a few more dead birds and this morning we found another wet, tired, and HUNGRY nestling at our feet.

So our count rests at 5 babies at this point. The one in the worst shape weighs in at a pitiful 33 grams and I doubt he will make it. The others weigh in at 36, 43, 45, and 49 grams. Chewie, the first one we found about 4 days ago, is in the best shape. He is happy to see me and begs for food, chirping away when he hears me call, “chew chew.” The others are more reluctant feeders. But the 3 in the 43+ gram zone, I have some optimism for. The others…not so much.

For more information on emergency feeding of Purple Martins, visit us at

Devastating Rain Continues

May 20th, 2018

Lord have mercy. The rain came down SO hard last night. I woke up to the sound of torrential rain and prayed for my birds. Another 3 dead in the lawn today, 3 alive that I was able to catch, and 2 others swam (YES SWAM) through the yard to escape to the neighbors yard and sure death. I am h art broken. The bad news: (yes, there is MORE bad news!) is the 3 rescued today are very underwent AND have significant feather damage to both tail feathers and primary flight feathers. The good news: Chewie (the first guy from 2 days ago) is eating me out of house and home and crickets. He just might make it!

Rain Causing Problems

May 19th, 2018

Over a week of solid and often heavy rains has been wreaking havoc on our colony. Wet nests combined with underweight fledglings have them jumping out like crazy. Nests are too far along to lower gourds and do nest changes. Found 4 dead in the yard in the last 2 days and this little guy yesterday. Wet to the bone and way undernourished. Yesterday he went through some scrambled egg and 2 dozen crickets. Today he’s already had 2 dozen crickets and he’s not done yet.
Rain can cause huge problems. Not just any rain, but the deluge has f driving rain that we have gotten, pretty much nonstop without getting a chance to dry. Even through the night, the rains have persisted. And rain like this means no food. We have also had the resident Cooper Hawk making his rounds and the poor babies (I suspect) may be from an orphan gourd.

New Deluxe Heath Gourd Review: Hero or Zero?

March 16th, 2018

Heath products have a history of offering purple martin items that are eerily similar to existing products. So, when we saw the new Heath Deluxe Purple Martin gourd, we were not surprised that it looked familiar. Heath also markets a hexagon shaped aluminum Purple Martin house that looks nearly identical to the trio castle made famous by the late J.L.Wade, made famous in the 1960’s by being the first manufacturer of mass produced purple martin houses.

The new Heath Deluxe gourd seems to tic off some of the requirements of what purple martins need at first glance but a deeper dive gives us important info that we thought we should pass on.

Item specs:

Opening: 3″W x 1.25″H SREH
Dimensions: 16″L x 9.5″W x 14″H
Mounting: may be hung
Construction: plastic
Brand: Heath Mfg
Item Number: HMC-PMG-2
Shipping Weight: 5 lbs

Reg:  $32.99

Your Price: $29.99




First, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, the SREH crescent entrances are too large and WILL NOT keep out starlings!  SREH entrances are a finicky thing. Just a hair off, and you might as well not even have them. These crescent entrances though crescent in shape serve no purpose, similar to other Heath gourds that tout an SREH entrance, but do nothing to keep out starlings.

The access port in the back,  makes its intended purpose, virtually impossible. How are you supposed to do a nest check with the access port at the back of the gourd? Quality gourds have the access ports on the side so a simple tilt of your body will allow you to have a full view of the contents of your gourd. These will only work if you plan on removing the gourd from your rack every time you do a nest check.

The plastic is of unknown quality (made in China) and allows for lots of light and heat to enter the gourd. I am curious if the plastic has UV inhibitors (like a quality gourd does) to prevent the gradual break down of plastics that occurs when exposed to sunlight.

The supposed owl guards pop off easily in your hand and if any body has ever seen a greater horned owl in all of its (three pound) glory, will know that hey would rip them off in short order.

Not every thing is bad about these gourds. The depth is comparable to a Troyer vertical gourd, it has an outside AND inside porch, and the entrance height is correct. Also, the horizontal and vertical hanging/ventilation holes on the neck of the gourd make for convenient hanging options (if you are unable to drill a hole). Unfortunately for an item completely made and packaged in China, the 29.99 (on sale) price point is much higher than this item deserves. When you consider that the Troyer horizontal and vertical gourds sell for less, are better products, and are made in the states, it is hard to rationalize the added expense for a sub par product.

In short, since we cannot recommend this product, we will not be selling this product in our store. Our vote? ZERO…


We received NO compensation from ANY company for publishing this review.

A Rare Case of Invasive Species Helping Out

November 29th, 2017

In this great article by the NY Times, it tells us of the Florida Snail Kite evolving in spectacular fashion to take advantage of invasive snails that are over running the everglades.

Snake Netting DIY Must Do!

March 28th, 2017

Facebook (in general) can be a good source for information. The multiple groups that gather people with similar interests can be a great way to learn from others. Yesterday I found a great description of how to easily and effectively add snake netting (aka bird netting) to your martin housing to prevent snake predation.

Anyone that has been in martins long enough should know that a snake can EASILY climb up ANY pole. There is no pole a snake cant climb people. There are only a few reasons why you may not have had this happen to you yet. 1. You don’t have martins. 2. You didn’t see it happen, but it did. 3. It’s about ready to happen. So is it really worth the heartache? Nope.

Our thanks to Robert I. for the following:

I’ve had a lot of questions about my snake netting and custom supports, so here you go. Each tuft has a full 14 foot roll of netting in it used FULL width. The supports are both flat bar and angled aluminum stock with holes drilled in each to be able to zip tie the netting. Then zip tied at top and bottom to seal the tuft into the neat ball shape. An animal cannot stand on the supports. They are on edge and/or cut to bend down and give way at any extra weight. Just heavy enough to support the netting and nothing else. I do put swinging EZ off guards above them once birds are here. I cannot poke a finger fully in without it getting stuck anywhere in the tuft. Hope it helps someone. Overkill? Hell yes! I’m extremely OCD on things. Have to look and perform the way I want them too, no matter the cost or effort. I’m my own worst critic. Each one of these took a full 5 hours to create start to finish. There are 3 inch square, 2 inch square and round poles included in pics. The tufts are large and just dense enough. The brackets above them will later raise to support my swinging EZ off predator guards.

Our sincere thanks to Robert I. for allowing us to post these photos.

Starlings Breaching SREH

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!