Posts Tagged ‘gourds’

Good Bye Excluder Gourds?

Friday, November 15th, 2013

As of November 2013, the well known Excluder Gourds are not being sold on our site. by anyone other than the PMCA. Though Excluder Gourds have been around a while, we have noticed a decline in sales as the more popular Troyer Gourds, have surpassed Excluders in sales.
Excluder Gourds were popular due to their realistic appearance, having been molded from an actual gourd. Aesthetically pleasing, Excluders have been around for some time and features like ribbed porches (inside and out) , SREH, one piece blow molded plastic, and heavy duty access ports, made them functional too.
However, Excluders seemed to have gotten caught in a kind of product hibernation.
Troyer Gourds, on the other hand, have made innovations that have kept them on the cutting edge. Just recently, Troyer Gourds have revamped their SREH to include built in wing entrapment guards, redesigned access port covers, and the addition of Troyer Vertical Gourds to their line up.
Are Excluder Gourds good gourds? Yes, they are.
Are Excluder Gourds the best gourds?
No, I don’t believe they are.
Lucky for you, there are other choices.

Nest Checks On Hold

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

When do you stop doing nest checks? When the nestlings reach about 23 days old. Some folks say 20 days old, but that seems overly cautious to me. All nest checks are on hold as their are tons of nests ready to fledge any day now. The nests that have fledged (about 8 of them so far) are creating much excitement as they peek into compartments and try to steal food from smaller younger nestlings.

A hawk made a late pass right before dark tonight and I am not sure if he was successful or not. The entire colony flew up in masse and with such an uproar of alarm calls that I am sure some bird was taken. Those early morning and late evening attacks are often quite successful. I will have to stay out later tomorrow and see.

I am not sure when the low hanging gourds are due to fledge soon. It will be interesting to see how the youngsters take to the air without having the advantage of height to get them airborne.

Another Reason We Do Walk Unders!

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011
In case you still wonder why walk unders are important, yesterday brought another valuable reason.
Walk unders are basically the PMCA’s recommended daily action that a purple martin landlord should take. Walking under and around your purple martin housing can spot problems and issues just not visible from the comfort of your favorite watching spot like your lawn chair.
We know that things like wing entrapment can be spotted and birds saved…like we spoke of in THIS blog post. But yesterday brought a blown off gourd cap to our attention. Last year we received a report of a Plastic gourd cap not staying on. Then I had the problem arise myself after adding Coroplast Gourd Cap Liners to my gourds. First, coroplast liners are great, don’t get me wrong. They eliminate light that can filter in a gourd from gourd access caps. But the thickness of the liners can make the caps not screw on tightly. How do you know when the cap isn’t on tight? When you tighten the cap it will get to a point then when you tighten it a bit more it becomes instantly loose. Like the cap hopping the threading on the gourd and the cap can then pop right off. I have tried tightening the caps right up to that “to tight” point and have found that it just doesn’t work. The cap will pop off and usually it will do it at the worst possible time.

A few days ago, a line of fierce thunderstorms blew through the area. I had done nest checks two days before and noticed this loose cap on a plastic gourd with a ASY pair of purple martins. 6 eggs lay inside and I wanted to raise the gourd rack back up so the birds could return to incubate, so I left the repairs for another day. I had a feeling it would be a problem and made a mental note to fix it at the next nest check. Unfortunately problems never wait. When I came home some 4 hours after the storm I did a walk under and saw that the cap which faces away from the house was gone. The cap was tucked under a line of bushes many yards away. I lowered the housing and did a quick easy fix with electrical tape and noticed the eggs were warm! Apparently mailmen aren’t the only ones that will persevere. Not snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…how does it go? Well, long story short she had hunkered down on those eggs and kept then safe and dry and warm. Now hopefully they will still all hatch. Read how to fix your loose gourd caps here.

Any quick fix tips for other issues on your purple martin housing? Feel free to share them here with us!

Psalms 84:3
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,

Nesting is Beginning!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Finally after many long weeks the purple martins are starting to go to the tree tops and pull at needles and bark. All compartments are taken by ASY males and though I have seen SY males I do not see any that have been able to steal away a compartment.

I am hanging a few old gourds on shepherds hooks and though these gourds are barely 4 1/2 feet off the ground, I am sure they will be taken. Every year I get a pair to take up residence in the shepherds hook gourd so this year I added 2 more. Hay, why not? If they are desperate enough to nest in some of the houses I see them in,. why not a shepherds hook. Of course I use a predator protector to keep raccoons and other creepy crawlies from getting an easy meal. This picture was last years ASY takers and they fledged 4 (if I remember) from this gourd. Every morning there is a few ASY males giving tours to interested ladies but at this point many are still playing musical gourds so I can’t tell if they are serious. But I will let you know.

Speaking of serious, the first egg of the 2010 season has been reported. On March 27 in the Orlando area. (Congrats James M!) Mine usually follow by several weeks.

Lion Country Safari to put up Purple Martin Housing!!!

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

When I started my business, the whole idea was to convince people to put up housing for Purple Martins. I thought it was tragic the plight of this bird, though NOT endangered, depends on us so heavily for its survival. The housing boom of the last few years seemed to have left Purple Martins in the dust as new, cookie cutter communities with strict HOA’s seems to be placing an emphasis on pristine neighborhoods and frowning on bird poop.

So back to when I started my website, it was mainly to express my love of Purple Martins through my art and show people what a cool, relaxing, family-oriented hobby, being a Purple Martin Landlord can be. Well, the site may have evolved, but I still had the desire to convince others that a close encounter with nature could be right in their own backyard!

Which brings me to Lion Country Safari. My family and I go there pretty regularly. Being only a few minutes away, it is an amazing place to go with the kids and have fun without driving up to Orlando. It’s NOT just a 4 mile drive through preserve with over 900 animals. It’s a carnival meets zoo meets water park. My kids beg to go to “Lion Country Far-Away” all the time and I have always thought to myself, “What a great place for Purple Martins!”

I had called and spoke to a fantastic lady called Brenda Irvine, the Animal Curator at Lion Country Safari and told her what a great location they had for Purple Martins. We met and looked at several great spots that would be great areas to attract Purple Martins. She pitched the idea to the powers that be and Lo and Behold, they decided to purchase an CUEnt 12 unit Purple Martin Gourd rack and 12 Troyer horizontal with SREH tunnels!

They are very excited to help Purple Martins in Florida and I am glad that they decided to help too. Now my Purple Martin babies will have some where to disburse to!

The starlings won’t be a problem with the SREH (Starling Resistant Entrance Holes) but the English House Sparrows (HOSP) may be. I offered to help them with trapping, if needed.

I will keep you all updated on their site!

I wanted to let you all know that I had long term plans to place a web/nest cam on my site. Though the linking in to my site is still in development, I have started a streaming webcam of my site This BirdCam site will eventually (I hope) have LIVE streaming video of my colony site. I will also keep you updated on that.  But check back and I will keep you up to date with that also.

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin/

2009 – Here We Go!!!

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

As Purple Martin season draws near I find myself torn between preparing for my birds return on one hand and preparations for “everything else” on the other. My birds returned on January 29 last season and I have the sneaking suspicion that they will be earlier this year. It always seems odd that Purple Martins arrive so much earlier on the West coast of florida. Why would one little Lake (Okeechobee) hold up my birds for an additional month? I should be grateful for the extra time. Especially this year. My 4 year old son started going to pre-K only 3 months ago. And in that time we have all endured the flu twice. My 2 boys also have suffered through a sinus infection, an ear infection and a never ending runny nose. So running outside to gather pine needles is low on the to-do list. But it had better make its way to the top soon. Being sick has delayed the preparation of many things.

I am in the process of trying to gather information for a database of South Florida Purple Martin Colonies and have been placing flyers on mail boxes of homes that have martin housing up. On January 21st I will be going to the 2009 Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in Titusville for 4 days. I will be giving 2 presentations on Purple Martins along with tending to my exhibitor booth. I am planning on being at the Folke Peterson Wildlife Center on Jan10 for the “Call Of The Wild” event, again to give a presentation and run an exhibitors booth. Then add all the web site development stuff I have undertaken, I still need to buy the cement for the ground stake, and get my new CUENT gourd rack up. I had planned on increasing my capacity this year but I may have to be satisfied with a slight increase. Last year I had 12 gourds and 7 compartments in my house. I had about 85% occupancy.

This season I plan on slightly increasing gourds offered to 17 and 6 compartments in a new Sunset Inn house. I MAY be able to add a live webcam this year and somehow integrate this feature in my website .


One thing I DID get to do was put another coat of paint on the “little repeating nest trap that could”. The paint may be the only thing holding this trap together at this point. The wood is warped, but the lines on this house were never straight to start out with. My husband is still in shock that it actually works and it was proven again when last week I put the trap up. I had thought I heard a Starlings wolf whistle amongst a large flock of Grackles. Long story short the “little trap that could” did not catch the starling but the next morning I awoke to find another Eastern Screech Owl in the holding cage. Off you go little guy, go get some sleep.

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin/

May 15, 2008

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

I am so upset. I called for another update on Beau. No change, “doing very well.” 

 I asked as to why is he not being released. The receptionist said that there was something wrong with him as he “Does not display the normal fear a bird should have” and that he may be released the end of NEXT WEEK!!!!!!!!
I am in tears and so upset. I asked to speak with the vet-no she is busy. I asked to speak with a tech-no, busy. The receptionist listened patiently while I went through the whole thing about Native Americans putting up gourds for these birds, that this side of the Rockies they just don’t nest in natural cavities, that us landlords do nest checks and that I did nest checks on these birds every 3-5 days WITHOUT fail, that this birds mother would sit on the nest while I did nest checks before they even hatched. That without his group to teach him what he needs to know his chances are slim.

I am so upset. I don’t even know what to do. My hands are shaking and all I can think is that bringing Beau to this rehab facility was the biggest mistake I could have made. 

If I go there and ask to speak to a supervisor/vet, I know I will be looked at as a kook and my cause will not be helped. I am doing some serious prayers. Praying that God open their eyes to another opinion; that he continue to gain strength and endurance in his captivity despite his geographic limitations so that he can survive without his family when he is freed.

I ask that you all pray too…

April 17, 2008

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

An overdue nest check was done. We had 3 days of very windy and cool weather. When its windy like that I try not to disturb the birds too much. So I waited and did it today.

My 20 babies look fat and happy. Their eyes are still closed so they just eat and sleep at this point.

The real shocker came when at final count I have 46 eggs! About 4 of those nests may not be done laying-so more eggs coming. Also, there is nest building in one of the natural gourds that was occupied by a lone ASY male. I suspect that the pair that was in the gourd hanging off the shepards hook relocated. Now a SY male attempts to attract a mate at that gourd. 

 All in all a great check.

On a side note, another capture of a dreaded Starling in the nest trap. It makes me smile when I think of how many Purple Martin eggs and babies I have saved at my site by controlling these pests. My husband doesn’t agree…he says it is survival of the fittest and if natural selection wants the Martin to go in favor of the Starling, so be it.

Of course, I disagree. What mother could let the town bully beat up her children? Isn’t that natural selection? If a person is stronger and more aggressive, it should conquer the weak, right? Of course not. Because we have compassion, we protect. Because we cherish diversity, we protect those that can’t protect themselves.

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 /