|Our Feathered Friends - April 6|
|Wednesday, April 6, 2011|
By RAY POPE
Back on the 19th of March, I did a talk on this insect eating machine, the Purple Martin, at Garr’s Rental and Feed. One of the first things to do as you prepare to place out a Martin condo is to ask yourself a question. Can I, will I, be able to put forth the time and effort that goes into attracting Martins?
This is not a few years involvement, but you should consider it a lifetime of work to do it right. Most of the Martin condos that I find around Wilson County have been neglected for many years past and have been taken over by House Sparrows or Starlings. Do you have the heart to evict a family of birds that really have no business of being here in the United States in the first place? It took me a few years to get used to doing that very thing when it came to my Bluebirds.
The really good Martin houses are fairly expensive and made of aluminum which will hold together for almost a lifetime if you take good care of it. Some of the cheaper models now on the market are made of high impact plastic and can be purchased for less than fifty dollars at some of the bird seed stores.
One thing not mentioned is that the rays of the sun can affect the molecular structure of the plastic house in time that would render it very brittle. I find it best to put forth a little more pocket money to buy a better one to start with. Another thing is that most of the telescoping poles do not come with the houses, but as a separate unit.
After you get Martins at your home, you must perform nest inspections on a weekly basic until your little ones have fledged and gone. There are some safeguards you should take to keep out Screech Owls such as some of the newer entrances that will not let them enter. Once an Owl has found a good food source he will return again and again till its empty of birds. I need to get with my friend Randy, no last name, to put together a list of bird sites that will have a great deal of information for our Purple Martins on my Facebook page (Ray's Our Feathered Friends). There is more to talk about, but it will have to come at in a later article.
Sitting in the backyard with my number one son, Ray Pope Jr., this past Sunday, it does my heart good that some of my bird-loving habits have been passed on down to him. When he was two years old, he amazed our bird club president, John Sellars, by knowing the birds on the cover of our Peterson's Field Guide.
One in particular was the Atlantic Puffin. John was talking about the field guide when he mentioned the strange bird on the cover and didn't know what to call it. Little Ray Jr. told John that it was a Puffin.
John almost lost his hat when he discovered that this two year old knew what he was talking about.
When it came to bird trips, we didn't leave him with Grannie and Pa, he always went with us on our weekend bird trips. Everyone was very pleased to meet him. He still has a lot of bird smarts that he has learned over the 40-plus years of his being.
I would like to thank Kimberly Marcum for the kind assist with the running of the slide thingy. Kim is also very smart when it comes to helping our feathered friends. You can usually find her at Garr’s.