Archive for March, 2008

My Paradise

Monday, March 31st, 2008

dsc_0107.JPGYesterdays nest check was great! 20 eggs total. 5 nests appear completed and seem to be ready for eggs any day. So hopefully. barring any untoward events, if these new nests also produce 5 eggs per clutch…45 eggs total. WOW. Mockingbirds are still bringing nest material, the owl is still in its nest box, and the bird feeders are busy. All is right with the world.  I believe several birds have moved on as the fights and bickering at bed time have subsided and my overall count seems to have dropped slightly. My count25 or so- Perhaps some pairs, unsatisfied that they could not get the housing they wanted have moved on to find other accommodations. Still, no complaints. My season is going great. 

A rainy day for a portion of yesterday, had my martins on the dirt road collecting mud from the street. A behavior that I had heard about but not witnessed first hand.

Blog Contents Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin /

Love a Martin, Kill a Starling

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

I was on the PMCA forum and read a new landlords post about how he loved birds and did not want to have to kill sparrows and starlings. When talking to people that are new to Martins, I get alot of that same…disgust about having to “dispose” of a bird. Anyway,

This was my reply;

It’s hard for alot of people to really understand what being a purple martin landlord is all about.
You can love birds and the end result will be that you will love your (or someone elses) purple martins to death—-literally.
I can understand not wanting to kill starlings and sparrows…(Not how I feel) but I can understand it. The important thing is to not add to someone else’s problem. My point? Maybe having a purple martin house isn’t for you. Because instead of attracting purple martins, you will have a sparrow and starling factory.
I hate turning anyone off to being a landlord but at some point tough love is needed. and at some point you have to take a stand.
My motto is , Being a purple martin landlord is NOT a passive hobby, its an active endeavor.
I hope you can see past the “grislly” stuff and realize that just because something has feathers; doesn’t make it all cute and sweet. Life is tough for martins and bluebirds and woodpeckers and every other native bird that sparrows and starlings kill. My job as a landlord is to keep a promise that Native Americans made to purple martins. The promise was-if you trust me-I’ll take care of you. They trusted us to leave natural cavities and nest solely in our houses (and gourds) and I won’t let them down.
You can still love martins without putting up a martin house.
My 2 cents?…put up a small bird box for 1 pair of whatever, and enjoy. Sell the martin house on ebay.
best of luck, whatever you do.

Love a martin, kill a starling.

Blog Contents Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin /


No Vacancy March 26, 2008

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

How much longer can my good luck last? As a well trained pessimist (Thanks Mom) I know that at some point my good luck will turn. The martins are bold and noisy and oblivious to the threats in their neighborhood.  Approximately half a dozen birds were out past sunset again. The noise they made bickering for a place to sleep, though music to me, is like a dinner bell to the hawks that I know live nearby. I don’t know if it is a good thing but a pair of Red-shouldered hawks is nesting down the block-less than 1/4 mile away. Hopefully that will keep the more dangerous hawks, like Coopers and Sharpies, away. Whenever I am outside I  keep my eyes open for any hawks. The neighbors don’t know why I occasionally pound the fence with rocks but that’s OK. The martins may not know either-but it gets them up and in the air. Yeah, I know…I’m whacked.  

 I have been working on 2 more gourds and am waiting for the caulk to dry before I hang them. But for now the “No-Vacancy” sign is up. I am not sure how many birds I have turned away due to lack of room but I have counted upwards of 30 birds.

Blog Contents Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin /

Nest Sitting and Nest Building

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

martininnest.jpgThe morning broke cool in the low 60’s but is pleasantly warming and turning into a spectacular spring day. The pair of mockingbirds that is building a nest about a yard away from my lawn chair is happy, despite my 2 children running and screaming a few feet away. The birds quietly slip in with twigs and sticks much to my delight. Apparently the Mockingbirds have also come to appreciate my lawn and the “no hawk” zone that, together, the martins and I provide.

Another nest is being built in a natural gourd and it would seem that the 4 nests that I checked are being incubated.

When I did nests checks the other day, the most curious thing happened. I lowered the pole and was going from one gourd to another. I began to open Gourd #2 (which I knew to be an active nest) when I looked inside to count, I found myself face to face with the ASY female who refused to give up her eggs. She had moved to the side enough for me to count but did not fly out. She was, literally only inches from my face. It was one of the most spectacular things that I have ever experienced. She must be quite experienced at nest checks, is my conclusion. She could have easily flown away at any time. I closed the gourd, continued to check all gourds the raised the house back up. Only when the house was almost completely up, did she dart out-very quietly. Off for a snack, then she returned a few minutes later.

On the business side of things, is making small baby steps towards launching and I hope to have some inventory and items by end of month.

Blog Contents Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin /

March 24, 2008 Nest Check

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Today was a nest check.  I am overall very pleased. A total of 18 eggs in 4 active nests. All are in gourds.  My pair on nest cam is now incubating a total of 5 eggs.

 I was disappointed that the completed nest that was “attacked” by the starling has been abandoned by the ASY pair. The beautiful nest now houses a lone ASY male. Several other nests that I have seen nest building activity seem to be in a holding pattern. Could be due to some on and off rainy/windy weather that may have postponed things. Though today was pleasant, the weather turned windy and cool with temps expected to go into the 50’s tonight. Nest building, I am sure, will resume in a day or two. 

 It appears some SY males and females that may have decided to stay but no compartments are available. 2 birds were attempting to get into compartments well after sunset in almost complete darkness. One finally squeezed into a compartment under the obvious protest of its current tenants. The other may have flown off into the dark to roost in a tree. Tomorrow I will attempt to hang 1 or 2 more gourds.

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Blog Contents Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin /

Happy Easter 2008

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

Happy Easter!

Today brought torrential rain interspersed with new nest building in Gourd #5 and the arrival of sub-adult purple martins. A SY male had high interest in gourd#10. Which is where my original ASY pair has 4 eggs on nest cam. They both guarded their eggs from within their Troyer horizontal gourd. I am not sure what had the SY male so intrigued with this particular gourd. Again and again he attempted to breach security.  Without success. A few SY females made an appearance and seemed rather impressed with the many ASY bachelors who attempted to woo them. It’s too early to tell if anyone succeeded in obtaining one of the prized girls. It seems as though males outnumber the females at least 3:1…which is a slight improvement. My success so far has me wondering who’s housing has gone down that so many ASY pairs have located to my site so willingly and quickly. Don’t get me wrong, my location and site are ideal. But usually the ASY return to prior nesting sites. Whatever the reason, I am thrilled and up to the challenge.

Nest check tomorrow, I’m estimating at least 11 eggs…maybe more!!!

Blog Contents Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin /

Owl in the Trap (March 21,2008)

Friday, March 21st, 2008

 I was in the house and reminiscing about yesterdays Starling catch. I was telling my husband about how I happened to look out the window and see the starling in the holding cage. While I was telling him I of course, go through he motions and look outside at the trap…and what is that!!! I look from in the house. I couldn’t have caught ANOTHER Starling. Maybe a love crazy purple martin?….nah. What the heck, there is something in there.  It wasn’t my eyes deceiving me. It was the most beautiful Eastern Screech Owl. Tan in color with big yellow eyes. It was trying to catch some zzzz’s there in the bottom of the holding cage. I put on a pair of gloves (No need to fool with that beak) and let the poor little fella out. So amazing to hold. It flew off, none the worse for wear and I was again amazed at the world we live in. We get so wrapped up in our lives sometimes and just the nature around us is enough to awe, inspire and renew your spirit.

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First Starlings (March 20,2008)

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

So the repeating nest trap sits virginal atop its wooden post. All painted white, untested, pure. UNTIL…One of my 50 glances outside per hour. My eye catches movement in the holding cage. Nah, could it? Nah, no! WAY! I look up at the housing and right on top of my Martin house, death with feathers. As if its laughing at the world, my heart sinks. It pops right in to a compartment that was housing a pair of martins. The nest, not yet complete, now the prospective breeding ground for black death. The European Starling! ugh, hear we go. Apparently the female went in the repeating nest box trap, virginal no more. But the male is calling and calling confused as to why his chosen won’t come up and take a look see at this mighty fine nest he has built (not) for her. The Martins are in obvious discord. No happy gurgling, no courting songs. A few of the braver males perch to watch and scream in protest. The Starling flies to his mate picks up some pine needles and flies back up to the purple martin nest. In he goes, right at home. Its only a matter of time before he gives up on this girl and brings another. He has no intention of going in the trap. Once again my trusty string and I, swing into action. I bring the house down, rig up a quick trap door on the compartment he has chosen and hoist the house back up. Rain drizzling down like a mist. Hurry, hurry, mornings almost gone. Soon the nest making stops and the daily duty of finding food is on their minds. Its now or never. I wait….1, 2, 3….minutes and in he goes. I pull the string and I trap him effortlessly. Textbook!!!  I bring the house down and it takes me longer to get him out of the house than it did to catch him.

Me 5,   Starlings 0

Blog Contents Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin /

March 19, 2008

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

A Purple Martin Landlords life is a dicotomy. Your life is seperated not by weekdays and weekends, not by day and night but by martin season or not martin season. And life is OH SO DIFFERENT when they are not around. The martins fly to Brazil for their vacation and I get mine too. No hawk patrols. No nest checks. No worries! A nice time to relax-take a vacation. Why not, it’s not like I have to be home to make sure they are all accounted for. But much like a day away from your kids…soon the memories of tantrums and fights fade and you long for the sweet torture again. And that is life now. Sweet torture. Glancing out at the housing AT LEAST every hour. Sometimes while in conversations. I guess guys have been positioning their mates so that they still have a view of the ball game. So while the martins are here I do it too. “No, thats my seat. It has got the view of both poles.”

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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.

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