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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Purple Martins actually need people


Purple Martins depend almost entirely on humans for housing. If you put out appropriate accommodations they may just settle in at your place.

Their criteria for nesting sites are usually near some water (or some other source of insects), and plenty of safe, clean housing. The birds also need on open area (meadow?) around the nest with a 40 ft. radius circle - no big trees.

In Texas, white is by far the best color for a house.  They’re typically aluminum, and look like little apartments with round doors.  The dimensions of the holes, and the “apartment” itself, are crucial in deterring predators. For heaven’s sake, don’t buy what’s alleged to be a Martin House without a proper pole – one that is stable and raises/lowers the house without calling for ladders or cranes. An appropriate pole is almost impossible to buy by itself.

If you’re thinking about becoming a Martin landlord, remember that there’s some maintenance involved. Houses need to be cleared of old nests at least yearly, and you’ll need to monitor it so other birds don’t take over.

Last year over a million families put up Martin houses. Here, it’s best done iun the spring. Also, several neighborhoods and communities in north Texas have become Purple Martin landlords. They depend on us!

 

OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at Yost87@charter.net in Denton.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Killdeer often hide in plain sight

Killdeer
Many of us have seen killdeer, but didn’t realize it.  These ground-dwelling, long-legged, ring-necked birds are very good at hiding in plain sight. They tolerate quite a lot of human activity. Like, next to a roadway or in a paved parking lot – for example, we see them often in the parking lot "islands" of the Factory Stores, on the north side of Denton. What they can’t tolerate is their nestlings or eggs being picked up by a human and moved to a “safe” place.  If someone is headed toward a Killdeer nest, females may divert him or her by acting as if they’re injured.
Killdeer on nest

 


 

 Are they really “green”?      In the U.S., there are over 17,000 circulating publications (that means magazines and newspapers, but does not include junk mail or catalogs). Producing one requires, on average, the equivalent of 2,165 trees.

Of those 17,000 publications, fewer than 200 use any post-consumer recycled material. The few that do, destroy about 217 trees each; 1,948 fewer. In other words, each of those few mailers leaves 1,948 trees – to provide shade, cool the earth, rejuvenate the soil, emit oxygen and provide homes for birds.

 

OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at Yost87@charter.net in Denton.