May 5 – Purple Martin Mansion Mosquito Control

Assembling the Purple Martin House

One of my 2023 goals is spending more time outdoors, taking more notes in nature observations, and learning more about the ecosystem and the creatures that do jobs I never fully appreciated until I became a little more educated on their roles in this great universe. A couple of days ago, I shared the plans for our bat hollow. Our first bat box has been installed, with more to follow. Today, though, is about another mosquito controller. Purple Martins, like bats, are environmentally-friendly critters who help control mosquito populations.

We weren’t sure how “involved” it would be to assemble a purple martin house. These houses are generally either a string of gourds hanging high, or a house reminiscent of a high-dollar condo situated on one of those tropical islands where the drinks all come with those little umbrellas and everyone wears floppy sun hats and sunglasses with cat-eye bling that sparkles as they sit back and sip in the breeze. Gourdless, we bought the high-dollar condo for them and discovered the pole was the same price as the house (12-20 feet in the air these places must be), AND has to be cemented into the ground.

So we took the unopened box camping with us one weekend, grabbing a multi-tool as an afterthought in case we needed a Phillips Head screwdriver or something. We found it remarkably easy to put the house together, and while we needed more than two hands, much of the structure was tabbed and punched so that it didn’t require a tool except on the roof. We put it together and brought it home. My husband fought mosquitoes with his bare hands while using post-hole diggers to set it deep in the ground, and then dumped a bag of Quikrete in to let it set overnight. We raised it to the heavens the next day, and now we await the migration that has, probably, mostly already happened. The late stragglers will find a vacancy in the inn…..we hope.

Rent-Free Purple Martin Condominiums, Johnson Funny Farm, April 2023

Preparing for This Weekend’s Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count kicks off this weekend (February 17-20), and I’ll be counting the birds that come to visit the Johnson Funny Farm in Williamson, Georgia – partly because I love birds, but partly too in memory of my mother, Miriam Haynes, who adored them and worked hard to establish a nature-loving legacy that she would be proud to know lives on in ways that continue to make a difference.

Here is everything you need to know to prepare and to participate this weekend. I’d love to invite you to participate and to share your findings and photos on your blog post next week. It takes as little as 15 minutes to observe and only a few minutes to report.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) started in 1998 when the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society collaborated to create the first online citizen-science project. In 2009, Birds Canada joined forces to expand the geographic data collection points. Its goal is to encourage people from all over the world to spend time watching and counting as many birds as they can, and then reporting their observations – which helps scientists better understand global bird populations and their migratory patterns.

To take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, you can visit this link to learn more – but to make it quicker and easier, I’ve pasted this information from the link:

Step 1: Decide where you will watch birds.

Step 2: Watch birds for 15 minutes or more, at least once over the four days, February 17-20, 2023.

Step 3: Identify all the birds you see or hear within your planned time/location and use the best tool for sharing your bird sightings.

How to Share Your Observations:

  • If you are a beginning bird admirer and new to bird identification, try using the Merlin Bird ID app to share what birds you are seeing or hearing.
  • If you have participated in the count before and want to record numbers of birds, try the eBird Mobile app or enter your bird list on the eBird website (desktop/laptop).

Here’s a link about the Great Backyard Bird Count from a former edition of Georgia Magazine.

We have two Great Horned Owls that I hope will make an appearance – or at least be heard – during the GBBC Weekend! Listen closely and you can hear them exchanging their innermost thoughts.
Special thanks to Two Writing Teachers at Slice of Life