Posts Tagged ‘purple martin house’

Purple Martin Nest Cam is ONLINE!

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Copyright: S.Halpin/

Don’t get me wrong. My excitement is tempered with a healthy dose of reality. The nestcam is using (thank you tech support) and the birdcam is using I welcome any and all feedback on which you like better. Both insert the most annoying ads that I do NOT profit from. So please, no hate mail. The weight of the camera housing makes the gourd list to the side a bit but not too bad. Gourd #4 was the winner of the online poll to determine which gourd would get the camera first. The Nestcam seems to kick off a bit more frequently which requires me to focus a fair bit of my OCD tendencies to checking the 2 spare computers Internet connection. My husband is at the end of his patience…I think. I only know I would be. I am sure he wonders when he will get me back from the birds and is counting the days until the season is over.

This has been a very busy year. Between the websites and all that entails and my outreach efforts, I have been talking, thinking, and breathing purple.

I don’t know if I mentioned the Purple Martin presentation I gave at Green Cay Nature Center a few weeks ago. There were some 20 + people there and many questions were asked. I brought a selection of gourds and tried to “make some converts”. I have also been sending out flyer’s to local residences that have purple martin houses in their backyards.

My martins appear very happy and are quite loud. The pool water feature runs 24/7 to mask any noise that may attract Owls. We added the sheet metal to the pine tree under the Owls nest box and hope that helps to keep them safe from raccoons. But back to the martins, I need to hang more gourds to accommodate the birds that have yet to arrive. I still have yet to see a SY.

On today’s nest check I noticed that most of the gourds had either pine bark or leaves brought in and all seem used. Spotless clean of course but all but 1 or 2 have perfectly shaped nest bowls swirled like soft serve ice cream.

I hope you all enjoy the nest cam and bird cam and let me know what you think.

Martins, Martins Everywhere! 2/19/09

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

In recent posts I have speculated that Purple Martins were spending more time at home and that nesting should begin soon. Well, nesting has not yet started but it can not be far off. I do not believe there was any significant portion of time today that my Purple Martins were away from home. At 2 PM they were still crawling all over the housing and chortling away. I am confident that I will have no vacancies as I counted at least 15 Martins at one time and saw pairs defending compartments all day long. The noise is a true blessing and reminds me of the gifts of life and joy and God, all wrapped up in a purple package. The activity and song has such an exuberance to it. It is hard to remember how desolate my yard becomes when the Martins are not here.

The gourd rack is the winner again but not as clear cut as last year. Though the CUENT Economy Gourd rack was first to welcome home Purple Martins, the Sunset Inn house is taking on house guests. I estimate 2 pairs in the house and at least one bachelor ASY male. A solo male in an Excluder gourd hanging under the house and at least half of the gourd rack is housing ASY Purple Martins. Not one SY yet to be seen BUT I have a feeling that I am thrilled and looking forward to nest building to commence. I wish I had the means to put up another house or rack for them as I hate to think that any Purple Martins would want for a nest site. I have seen many houses get boarded up with the housing crisis and know that these birds have been facing these challenges for some time. If only there were more people out there that were interested not just being environmentally friendly, but “environmentally intimate”.

There is nothing more intimate and precious than watching the cycle of life unfold so dramatically right in your own backyard.  Counting the eggs in the nest and marking the hatch day on the calander. Counting the nestlings as they emerge from their shells. Watching them grow and feather out over the course of a month. Holding them and whispering well wishes and prayers as you place them back in their nest for the last time. Then waiting and watching the parents coax the fledglings out into the world. Knowing that the parents will return every year, trusting me with their young. Watching over me as I say my little prayers. Waiting with bugs in their mouths, to feed the hungry youngsters, whose appetites never seem to wane. “I’m hurrying…I’m hurrying” I’ll say to them, as if they understand.   This is what I do. And Autumn will be here too soon. Leaving my yard silent.

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2009: S.Halpin/

Changes Noticed in Martins Behaviour

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

It may be a sign that the ASY Purple Martins at my site are aware of something. I have not seen any SY birds yet but today the 8-10 birds that I have have been checking in quite often throughout the day. That is a major change as up until now they have been keeping a low profile.

The usual behaviour includes no birds around the housing after 9AM or so. No birds back at all (for the most part) until they are ready for bed. At 6 PM they zoom in without much ceremony at all. But today I have noticed that they are back and forth at the housing. All ASY birds still, but they are peeking in compartments, in and out of gourds, looking at the new Sunset Inn house and all around showing a high level of interest in the housing all day so far.  Even when they are not on the housing I can see them at a distance and here them occasionally. So they are staying closer to home. It will be interesting to see how they act this evening and if this behaviour is just a well deserved break after several weeks of cool weather and gusty breezes that would make their foraging for food a challenge. Perhaps the food is abundant today and they have the resources to keep a closer eye on the housing. Or perhaps there are some SY’s moving in.  Another possibility is that these are new birds moving in and NOT my birds at all. Simply other landlords ASY’s checking up on the neighbors. As you may know, arrival of the younger subadult birds (the SY’s) seems to coincide with nest building and an overall serious tone to the nesting season. These early weeks, prior to the SY’s arrival are much less intense.

Time will tell if which of these scenarios is in fact the case. At any even the frequent visits are a real treat and have perked up my spirits.

On another note, my Live Streaming Birdcam is still online HERE at After 8PM I am working on trying to get the webcam up via, an online broadcast site. As I work on the camstreams site I will eventually replace this as the source for my sites Live Birdcam. The previous software has changed its pricing as has become much to costly! Having the Camstreams site will allow me to have the Birdcam be on a site that is not commercial in origin.

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2009: S.Halpin/

How Can I Get That New Martin System?

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

My current issue and problem is keeping me up late at nights. My husband asks what is wrong and I find myself in turmoil. Do I continue the hold back? DO I confess my thoughts? Do I start out marriage down a path of resentments and pain?

I am distraught. Less than 11 weeks to go and I still do not know how to approach the discussion that needs to take place. Let me explain…My husband is not, in ANY way shape or form a Purple Martin fan. Don’t get me wrong, he listens to me when I talk about them and cares that I care about them but if given to his druthers he wouldn’t care less if every rain forest was paved over. I love him dearly but how do I approach a frugal man with the money spending options in a nationwide economic recession? I can not lie, this I know. So instead I stare off into space wondering when and how I can bring this up.

I have a few options

1. Wait for the 2 weeks before Christmas and when he asks me, “Honey, what do you want for Christmas?” I let him have it with BOTH barrels instead of my usual reply, “I have all I need, my dear.”

2. Continue to pine and sigh and hope he notices my depressed state during “Half Time”.

3.Instruct my 2 1/2 year old to say, “Martins make mommy happy!”

4.Change the image on his computers desktop to that of a Big Ol Purple Martin Gourd rack…since he doesn’t know how to change it back he will eventually buy me the rack in order for me to get rid of the picture.

5.Arrange some sort of a “trade” with him…..hmmm

All because I am honest with my husband. I sometimes think what harm could a little white lie cause. But we must all remember the Rumpelstiltskin effect. You know that story, right? The father tells the King that his beautiful daughter can weave hay into gold. then she keeps getting in a bigger and bigger jam?

For example: “Oh look at what I found on the curb that someone was throwing away!! A brand new aluminum house with a winch system at that!” Of course I would then have to explain how I cleaned it up to look like new. I would then find myself in a bad scenario where he would start bringing me his favorite old salt water reel to clean up. Then my excuse to throw away his favorite old shirt and sweatpants with the multiple stains would be useless. “But honey, you can make anything look like new”

If I go with a “Oh, look what I won in this contest I entered”  Then my husband would send me out with his paycheck to buy lotto tickets. And he ALWAYS checks his numbers. Besides the fact, with my luck he would instantly know it was a lie. People ask me who I am routing on just so they can know what team to NOT bet on.

I guess I will just have to go with the honest straight forward, if not guilt ridden approach. “Honey, I bore you 2 beautiful sons. I cook, I clean and all I ask is this XYZ system to quench my thirst for Purple. How about it?”

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/

Sometimes It’s More Than Martins

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

This past season, as some of you may know, the local newspaper did a very small write up about me and my colony.  (Check out the video HERE!) The journalist wrote furiously and asked her questions and as these things go , I was quite pleased with how it turned out. Other than a few small errors and the fact that my hair looked AWFUL. But such is life and such is my curse. Whenever a camera points my way my hair decides to point whatever way it wants.

Anyway, after the article came out I got numerous calls and emails from some very nice people. Some of which had been trying for quite some time to get Purple Martins in their backyard. Usually with no success as yet. If I could pick out a common thread in peoples difficulties, I would say the main problem seems to be trees.

One lovely lady stands out in my mind. She lives on 5 acres of heavily wooded land. Recently widowed the middle aged woman wants to see Purple Martins fill the house with life. As it is now the plastic house stands like a lonely reminder to the memory of her loving husband who put the house up shortly before his unexpected passing recently.

As I stood looking at the Purple Martin house I noted a few things. It is your standard beginners house, small compartments with round holes. The distance to her house was fine but the surrounding woods were the problem. Though the tree line was approx 30 feet on 3 sides, the Pine trees themselves were over 40 feet tall and packed together tight. They seemed to tower over the Purple Martin house. Even though the martin house was up on its pole, the trees loomed. They reminded me of the trees in the “Wizard Of Oz”, ready to come to life and begin to throw pine cones at us at any moment. All in all, a great place for a hawk to ambush. Any Purple Martins would basically have to fly in from overhead and dive straight down. No flyways here. I gave her some advice-mainly to cut back some trees IF possible (at least top them), enlarge compartments, hang a gourd or two, SREH, Decoys and Dawnsong and hopefully next season she will get a Purple Martin to at least land on her housing.

Though her husband and soul mate was taken from her without time for a goodbye, a visit from a purple bird would go a long way to healing her heart.

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin/

So, you want to help the environment…

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

by: Susan Halpin

I have been thinking a lot lately of the latest fad of “going green”. It seems like using environmentally friendly products has become all the rage. Reducing ones carbon footprint has become the quest of many. But with all these acts of conservationism none is as humble and beautiful as what a Purple Martin Landlord does for his birds.
Not many people are aware of the plight of the Purple Martin. Besides the fact that most people have NO idea what a Purple Martin is, the act of putting up a house or a gourd for a Purple Martin to live in is becoming a remnant of a bygone era. Much like families sitting together for dinner-SANS Television, putting up housing is something more of us should do but not many of us actually do.
What is so compelling about this bird anyway? It’s about 8 inches long and so are a lot of other birds. The males are a steely blue-ish black…OK. The females not as fancy looking…alright. What is the big deal? Since these birds will never visit your backyard bird feeder most people will never get to find out. But if you are blessed enough to witness them, you will be taken in by their beautiful song, unquestionable grace in the air and apparent joy of flight.

So why am I writing this? You wanted to help the environment. You want to make a difference in the world. Feel free to donate money to save the Whales. Don’t let me stop you from recycling the newspaper. But other than a change in your routine and giving up a Starbucks Latte twice a week, what do you want to do? Do you want to make a difference right in your own backyard?
Many people want to help nature but they just don’t know how. We go to our local “Mart” super store and spend 20 bucks on a nest box and complain that no birds ever nest in it. So, what can YOU do to make a difference? CAN you even make a difference? ABSOLUTELY! It’s not easy and sometimes it’s not pretty either. But the joy you will experience, the pride you will feel, the sense of accomplishment will be amazing!
Back in the 40’s and 50’s, when putting up a house for Purple Martins was popular, you could drive down a road and see birdhouse after birdhouse. Heck, there was a time when parks and public areas would put up housing for Purple Martins. Then something happened. Somewhere along the line, we forgot about those that were so completely dependant on us for their continued survival.
So what happened? We may have many opinions on that but one thing is certain. Literally, only individuals, like you, hold the key to this birds survival.
That’s right, You-by putting up Purple Martin housing- can be personally responsible for bringing Purple Martins into the world. You can be single-handedly, the most important factor in those birds life. For what purpose does any life have? Only to be born and die, and hopefully adding some offspring to the mix. As long as more are added to the population than die, we will slowly and surely fill the skies with Purple Martins. But your help is needed. Your actions are vital. Join fellow Landlords and raise up a Purple Martin house and enjoy the song and grace and joy that you will have added to the world.

For more info on Purple Martins go to:
Or check out some of the links on the right.

Blog & Photos Copyrighted 2008: S.Halpin/

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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/

Hello again Jose

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

It had been some time  since I saw Jose. Last time we spoke he told me how talking about the martins had made him realize how much he missed them. As a landlord I can understand. A protectiveness and responsibility becomes part of your everyday life. He told me that he used to feel like he was a part of them, and when he left his home for the last time to go to the nursing home, he did not realize that he would never come back. “I guess I always thought that I would go home and go back to how it was. I never thought I would stay here so long.” I asked him if he thought his neighbors would ever see the birds return and put housing for them. “The last time I saw them houses they were a mess. Between me not taking care of that wood like I should and the storms…there wasn’t much left. My neighbors…they were not so much better off than me, you know? I don’t think people care too much for birds anymore. They care that they have a nice car and nice stuff. They talk big now saying we all use recycle this and that. But you know what I think? I think that recycling propaganda and green this, organic that…makes it all easy for people to not give a damn. They all think that they are doing their part but no one goes through the work. No one puts up the houses for the martins, leaves the old trees to rot and give the woodpeckers a place to live, fills the feeder with the good seed, kills those $&!^ Sparrows. They all want life wrapped in a pretty package with a pink bow.” We paused there and I felt a bit uncomfortable with his anger but I understood it. I finally said, “Hay, I don’t like them sparrows either!” He laughed and that seemed to release some tension. “I know, I know, you need to bring me a trap so I can put it our here for these ones here!” He said. I changed the subject and told him about the Red-Bellied woodpecker that has been occupying a wooden bird house on a pine tree next to my driveway. Earlier this year an Eastern Screech Owl had nested there. Now it appeared that the Woodpecker was taking a turn. He seemed happy to hear that news. “Ohhh good good.” He said happily. I finally remembered that I had brought him a small photo book of some of pictures I had taken this year and we flipped through it. I gave him a little background on all of the martins that I had photographed. The young momma with the bald neck, the ASY male with the bad attitude. The first pairs initial squabbles over which nest they would ultimately settle on. He seemed to enjoy it and it reminded him of individual birds that he would recognize in his own colony. I left it with him and said my good byes and realized that even the tiniest moments are a treasure. What Jose would not have done to be sitting on his chair in his own backyard with a sky full of Purple Martins swirling above him.

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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.