Sarah Thompson in Southeast Indiana

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We did some major changes at the farm this year- we redid our pond and doubled it's size... I am planning to do lots of native landscaping for birds and wildlife and need to rework the bird housing around the pond- I'm even thinking about a wood duck house! I'll keep you up to date as it goes.




The babies are hatching!  I should try to take a digital picture to send. It is a tricky task now with the baby.  We are having a very wet season, it keeps on raining and it is very hard to mow.  I think the birds have not had a real bad time of hunting though because it only rains for part of the day.





03-28-03 Photo of Mohair Goats

Sadly I do not have a report yet about my purple martins, on Sunday while I was out cleaning the barn I heard a familiar bird and rushed out to see a Female Purple martin make one slow "fly by" of my colony, and just as quickly as she appeared, she was gone... surely on her way to a home further north.  The tree swallows are very busy and there are about six making quite a ruckus as they duke it out for the prime nest sites next to the pond.  No sightings yet of barn swallows.
The happy news from our farm is that May, one of our Angora goats, gave birth to her first kid on Tuesday evening.  He is the first hooved mammal to be born at our farm (well, since we have lived here)  I hope you enjoy this picture of him getting a look at his first sunrise.  I think we'll name him Nimbus.  His daddy is Cirrus.


03-21-03 Notes

Saving Duck feathers, listening to Meadowlarks,  A flock of Red-Winged Blackbirds, being tricked by a Mockingbird and watching for the Purple Martins to Return


03-14-03 Much about Crickets and Cricket Lips



02-20-03 (Below)


In the next few weeks I will begin preparing my home for some very special arrivals.  I have some friends from South America coming to stay at our farm near the Ohio River in south eastern Indiana .  We expect them to arrive during the week of March 15th,  they will be with us the whole summer, leaving in late August.

While most houseguests will wear out their welcome in a matter of days, my friends from Brazil are very self sufficient, they hate to impose, and for whatever I give them, they insist on giving me double in return.  And the music! They bring with them mystical unique songs out of the rainforest- what an honor it is to have them share their tropical talent at my plain little country farmstead. When they finally leave I miss their happy sounds and laughter and their sweeping graceful dances.  I think of their safety as they make the 3000 mile journey back to Brazil , and pray that their family will be safe until they return.


Who are these friends?  They are Purple Martins, the largest North American swallow.  Over the next few weeks I will discuss some of the things I prepare for them, and you will get to know me, my family and the reasons why I love these birds so much.  Hopefully I will spark the interest of other homesteaders and bird lovers, and inspire them to create their own Purple Martin Sanctuary right in their own backyard. 


I will also discuss some of the other members of the swallow family as well as a few other cavity nesting birds you might enjoy giving a home to if you don’t have the right conditions for a Purple Martin colony. 


Here is a picture of my system that houses up to 20 breeding pairs.  My colony is relatively young, this will be year 5, and I am not even at 50% occupancy yet.  Martins only produce one nest a season, and because of the stresses of migration and nest site competitors, their numbers increase only in tiny increments.  Sometimes weather disasters, cold, or hurricanes, can wipe out huge portions of martins and it can take decades for them to repopulate.  When I learned abut the importance of Martin Conservation, I vowed to help other bird lovers work to make each and every nest season as safe and productive as possible.


  Most of the gourds you see were grown in my garden and then modified to make an ideal martin home.  A few of them are factory made plastic homes, which are a wonderful alternative to the natural gourds, but so far no birds have built a nest in a plastic gourd as long as there were equal quality natural ones to choose from. All of my gourds have side access ports so I can monitor the nests closely and ensure optimal health and safety for my birds.  Each gourd also has a rain awning which serves a double purpose, it keeps out the weather, but it also provides a prominent perching spot for martins to display for their mate and guard their nest.  The entry holes are a special dimension and shape that keeps those dangerous starlings from raiding the Martin nests.  The whole rack of gourds is hung from a cable and pulley that lowers with a winch so I can monitor the nests twice weekly during the breeding season.  The nest records are then shared with the Purple Martin Conservation Association in Edinboro , PA.


Next week I will write about what makes Purple Martins so different from other birds, and what are the requirements for a healthy safe martin colony.


I welcome any questions and I look forward to sharing my love of these wonderful migratory birds with you,


Love Sarah Thompson

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