Monthly Archives: February 2018

Martins in Florida

Louis Kociuk, Port Rowan provided some photos from his location on the Crystal River in Florida today. Thank you for sharing Louis.


Now isn’t that enough to get you in the mood for purple martins?

Tree Swallows are on the way-Are you ready?



It won’t be long and our friendly Tree Swallows will be here in Ontario. They usually precede martins by several weeks and are usually the first insectivores to take up residence on our properties. They are often mistaken to be Purple Martins and will often usurp unused Purple Martin houses or even defend their house or gourd from allowing martins to gain entry to their previous residence.  Providing some type of  housing for them will  prevent this problem from occurring.  Keep your Purple Martin housing closed so this problem with Tree Swallows does not occur.

If you are interested in attracting and getting the basic facts about providing a suitable nest box  and a guide for their proper placement and care…..


A Message from Paul, Chairperson, OPMA

Hello everyone!   February is coming to a close, our Martins are well on their way back home to us, and we probably all are already thinking about and planning for their return to our colonies.

The upcoming year is going to be an extra busy one.  Once again, we have five meetings planned for our membership.  Two are member host meetings which always offer a great opportunity to see members’ set-ups on their own sites.    Thank you to our members who have volunteered for these:   Marie Anne Knapp (Essex) in May, and Henry & Elaine Wolting (Blenheim) in June – which is also our annual social gathering for the club.

We once again will be involved with the Hawk Festival at Holiday Beach in September.  Also, for the first time, the OPMA will be hosting a Martin Festival at Colchester Harbour!     This looks to be an exciting event where we can promote the importance of maintaining Martin colonies.

Many members of our club have been busy preparing other sites for the new season.  John Balga has donated a T14 for the Colchester Harbour site.   He supervised the installation of a new pole and will be putting up the house in early March.    Ron Delcourt has converted the castle at Holiday Beach to 12 compartments, painted the swallow housing and added ventilation to the 16 gourds.    Mary Wilson & Jim Sudds are donating a new Gemini gourd rack at the Orchard View Golf Course to replace the old house that broke last year.   When we have our meeting in April, have a look at this new set-up.

John Balga and Al Hamill have worked on several new roll-up screen displays for the club which were on display at our February 17th meeting.

Our association continues to grow, and we have, as of this writing, over 50 members.   The annual dues of $20.00 are now being accepted for 2018 up until the close of the April meeting.   The money collected from dues allows us to continue with our various projects which promote the importance of the Purple Martin in our world.  Without your support, these projects would not be possible.   Even if you are unable to attend all or any of the meetings, your commitment to the OPMA is greatly appreciated.    OPMA will carry on as long as we have members who are willing to support the association and its various projects.

We hope to see you all at our next meeting on April 21, 2018 at Orchard View Golf Course!

Paul Hamel

Jeremy Bensette and his ” Big Year”

346 bird species in 365 days and 100,00 km. How this guy criss crossed Ontario to set a record.

At the last OPMA meeting  on Feb 17 , we were fortunate to hear about the ‘Big Year ‘ of Jeremy Bensette, a 28 year old who in 365 days was able to locate and document 346 bird species in Ontario.

The pinnacle of his success came near the end of his “Big Year,” a term given to birders who devote 12 months to seeing as many species as possible in one geographic area.

The term gained notoriety after the release of a book and then the movie The Big Year, a 2011 comedy, which portrays the true story of a sometimes ruthless competition among three birders starring; Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a look.

“I thought, this is the best moment of my life,” said Bensette, when he broke the record, surrounded by friends. “It was the number one moment of the whole year, when it all came together,” he said. “I wasn’t aiming to break it but it ended up being a massive milestone.”

The hour long talk highlighted the journey across Ontario in all weather and geographic conditions .The sixty people who attended were spell bound and laughed with Jeremy as he related the various incidents which he experienced.

Thank you to everyone who came out to hear Jeremy! May you have another Big Year, Jeremy!

More information can be found on his blog Jeremy Birder.



Gourd Racks and Winds

Purple Martin Products, a site dedicated to the Troyer style of houses and gourd rack has posted some excellent articles on the proper management and engineering of some of their products and the reasons why their products are made  the way they are. Dianne Oberlander has posted some of the reasons why it is important to install a post or ground stake in a particular way.

Read more……

Getting Ready for the Martins

Louise Chambers  has provided some great tips for getting ready for this year. The martins will be here shortly so you may wish to check out these very useful topics which you can download or just read. More information is available at the Purple Martin Conservation website and in their Update magazine..

Tips for using pole systems … fe-412.pdf

T14 pole innovations … le-411.pdf

Pole guards … ds-410.pdf

Owl guards for gourds … mo-408.pdf

Preparing natural gourds … ip-403.pdf

 ID different types of nests you might find in your martin housing … id-378.pdf

The PMCA’s download center, … ad-center/ contains more good articles for those looking for basic information.

 This collection of information, all of which was previously published in the Purple Martin Update or posted on the website or Forum, will help landlords have safe and successful martin seasons. If you haven’t joined this North American organization, you are missing out on many great articles and great information from their forum. If you would like to join, follow the link below.

Forum Administrator Purple Martin Conservation Association –Please consider becoming a member of the PMCA.

Read more at:

Are You Ready For The Starlings?

One of the best methods for preventing starlings from entering  purple martin house entrances is to prepare especially adapted plates and adding them over the existing hole. It may be necessary to cut out the existing hole to accommodate the chosen plate. It is important to mount the plate as close to the floor as possible to make it difficult for the starling to enter. The suggested arrangement is 1/8 inch above the floor. The suggested height of the entrance hole is 1 3/16 inch. The chart below indicates the various plates the can be purchased from various vendors both as prepared entrance plates that can be mounted on the house or doors that already have the desired hole.

Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done to keep other songbirds  from entering the holes. The House Sparrow will readily enter both round and Starling Resistant Entrances.

More information on the history of these entrances can be found under the topic:

Starling Resistant Entrance or Starling Resistant Entrance Opening

Upcoming Meeting of the Ontario Purple Martin Association

Hello fellow Martineers!
The Ontario Purple Martin Association’s first meeting of this new year is just around the corner:
Saturday, February 17 (9:00 am) …..   Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens, Ruthven.
Please note that we are in the “Cactus Room” this time.    Go in the direction of the “Willow Room”, but turn right in the main hallway and you will see a similar wooden structure which is the Cactus Room.   
There are a few things to let you know about this meeting:
…… We are excited to have Jeremy Bensette scheduled as our guest speaker.    Jeremy grew up in Leamington and realized at a young age that his lifetime calling would take him towards nature somehow.     Check out his wonderful blog, and get to know him a little!    
…… Paul Hamel has served back-to-back terms as the Chairperson of the OPMA.    His term is up as of our February meeting, and we invite everyone to give consideration to stepping into this important role.
…… The OPMA will be holding an Ontario “Martinfest” in July 2018.    We are excited about this inaugural event and the possibility that it could grow into a successful yearly endeavour to draw people into our conservation efforts as they learn about this beautiful people friendly bird.    At our meeting, we will be presenting our plans, and welcoming input from all of you as well !
…… Our Treasurer takes annual dues ($20) at our February meeting.    Members who are not able to attend have until the April meeting to pay their yearly dues and stay on our email list for meeting notifications and newsletters. 
……. At our April meeting, we will be doing 2 draws.    All members who have paid their 2018 membership fee by the April meeting date will be eligible for both these draws.    Members do not have to be present to win.
    * A draw for a one-year membership to the PMCA (paid for by the OPMA).  Membership provides     discounts for purchases from the PMCA online shop, as well as 4 issues of the beautiful Purple Martin     Update magazine.    Winner will receive an immediate membership to the PMCA if he/she is not already a     PMCA member, OR will receive a membership for the following year if he/she is already a PMCA member.
    *  A draw for a 1-year membership to the OPMA (membership fee waived).   The winning member will        receive free membership for 2019.
We hope to see you on February 19th !
Mary Wilson