Archive for January, 2010

5 Purple Martins So Far

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Another female ASY purple martin came yesterday bringing the tally up to 5.  Also,  as if on cue,  one of the starlings that had been trying to get in the Troyer horizontal gourds finally went for the trap. Thankfully the repeating nestbox trap or S&S repeater, worked like a charm. I took a few pics of the poor fellow and humanely deposited him in the circular house at the curb.

My mother in-law was mortified. My husband, as usual, perplexed at how I can euthanize a bird and call myself a bird lover. I answered back the way I always do. That as a true bird lover, sometimes hard decisions need to be made and “my” purple martins will not suffer for the mistakes humans made by introducing the European Starling on this continent. But look out! You do NOT want me to take out the soap box again!

The live ColonyCam is up and running and it is at a slightly different angle.But I have not heard anyone complain as yet.


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!

Stand Up Against TNR (Trap Neuter Release) of Cats

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

I found this awesome article by Rob Fergus, co-author of The Purple Martin that states the new aggressive stance against TNR programs by 10 conservation biologists in the latest issue of the journal Conservation Biology. Basically urging conservation biologists to take a strong stand against the establishment and maintenance of feral cat colonies (Trap-Neuter-Return (or Release) programs.
Read portions of the article HERE.

It is good to see conservationists finally sounding the trumpet and trying to take on some of these groups that cause more harm with their good intentions.

So what can you do to protect the birds in YOUR yard from cats while the politicians, PETA and others hack it out? Here are a few options.

cat trap

You can trap them yourself. Just minus the”Neuter and Release” part of the equation. Your neighbors may not appreciate you trapping “Fluffy”,  so this works better with feral cats. However nothing says keep your cat off my property better than a visit to the pound. The Collapsible Raccoon Trap is great for trapping cats.

You can discourage them from visiting your yard by making it cat unfriendly. Everyone knows that cats HATE water, so take advantage of that with this neighbor friendly alternative. The ScareCrow Motion Activated sprinkler shoots water out at the unsuspecting feline when the little darling decides to take a stroll through your herb garden to spread its Toxoplasmosis.

angry-dogYou can buy a dog that hates cats. So you may run into other problems like food and vet bills but still, it IS an option.

My Disclaimer: Please no hate mail. I actually am a cat lover…an indoor cat lover and my old cat “Elvis” was an indoor cat until the day he passed away at the age of 11. I just so happen to also be a bird lover and a conservationist. The definition of a Conservationist is “someone who works to protect the environment from destruction.” And I think studies have pretty much proved that the domestic cat is pretty destructive to wild NATIVE birds…ie: the environment. So thanks for your understanding.

Purple Martins in West Palm Beach!

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Well, better late than never as they say. A day shy of a full 2 weeks late, the first purple martin has landed in South Florida for the 2010 season. A lovely ASY female, her soft chirps don’t have the same impact as the male purple martin dawnsong. Nevertheless, she is a sound for sore ears.

She busied herself preening on the wires then went about entering multiple gourds. Not shy or hesitant, she knows she is home.

I wonder for how long will she be alone?

The migration seems to be delayed this year and many speculate as to why. The recent bout of record 2 week cold seems to be an obvious reason. A others note however, martins will arrive in the worst of weather and seem to migrate on length of days and whatever internal mechanism they have. The strong northerly head winds may have dissuaded them, to some extent. And our pleasant temps in the last week and brisk tailwinds are just the thing to bring my babies home.

It’s on!!!

Troyer VERTICAL Gourds Have Arrived!

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

I told you about the new gourds by Andrew Troyer that were on the way. Brand new for 2010 the Troyer Vertical gourds are here. I am impressed by the design and I am very excited to show you the pics of these beauties.

troyer vertical gourd

troyer vertical gourd

13″ deep (just like a horizontal gourd) but has the aesthetic look of a “regular” gourd that many folks prefer. At around 8″ wide the interior compartment is generous in size and yet doesn’t look like a gourd on steroids as some other plastic gourds appear. It looks a lot smaller than it actually is, in fact. The weight is distributed evenly and the 4 molded canopies on the top of the gourd can be easily drilled out for added ventilation.

All in all a superior gourd that I am very happy to offer at

Happy New Year and a Baby Gouldian Update

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

The new year came in with a cold spell that makes it easy to put off putting up my purple martin house and gourd rack. But up they must go. As of last check, there are 11 purple martin sightings across Florida and several here on the East coast. So today, despite the temperatures hovering in the 40’s, I was outside braving hypothermia to at least get things organized. The housing is still not up but the gourds are laying out on the grass and the racks are oiled and ready. Pine straw awaits patiently, having been lovingly raked up by my husband. And hopefully tomorrow will see most of the work done.

I can’t wait to see the skies above my house filled with swirling and twirling purple martins and my ears with their chortles and song.

handfed gould babyBy popular request I am updating those interested in the progress of the 3 baby gouldians that I hand fed. From hatching. All 3 are doing great. There was in fact 2 boys and 1 girl as I had thought and the youngest boy will still land on my finger and perch a bit before fluttering around the room. His name is baby and he along with his brother and sister will probably remain with me.
Though the other two will come up to me and occasionally play with my fingers they are pretty much back to being birds and have no interest in being petted or played with. As it should be, but still…Baby’s friendliness to me touches my heart and I find myself especially fond of him. His attempts at song are still quite pathetic and they are all undergoing a molt so we will see how they feather in. “Baby” will most likely be a “red headed normal” for any familiar with gouldian genetics but he will be split to white breast as will his sister. His brother is a dilute but otherwise the same.