Martin Gourds – Techniques

This month, folks in rural Georgia are preparing to welcome back a beloved Spring migrant– the Purple Martin. They’re hanging gourds which are dried out and carved with holes and these gourds will become spring nesting sites for the birds. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

“I call myself a Purple Martin Landlord.”

Wayne Caudell has been hanging Martin gourds for over twenty years. Over the years he’s developed his own techniques for turning the gourds into nesting boxes.

“People who know more about Purple Martins than I do, they recommend you bore entrance holes about anywhere from two to two and a half inches. I like two inches the best because starlings give you a lot of trouble. They want to build in the gourds too, you see. So, I use the smallest hole I can, which is two inches. Then you got to bore some quarter inch holes in the bottom of the gourd for the water to run out. And they will not build in the gourd if you don’t bore these quarter inch holes in the bottom of it.

“Well some people just hang their gourds just like they come out of the fields, you know, don’t paint them or anything. But I found out that if you don’t paint ’em, the gourds will get too hot. The little baby birds, they’ll leave the gourd before they’re mature enough to fly. Cause it’s so hot in there. So I started painting my gourds white. And ever since I started painting them white, well I haven’t had no problem with birds leaving the gourds too early. ‘Course it makes the gourds last longer too.”

Our special thanks to folklorist Maggie Holtzberg.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I’m Jim Metzner.

Martin Gourds - Techniques

This season, people in rural Georgia are welcoming back a migrating bird with nests made from gourds.
Air Date:02/16/1999
Scientist:
Transcript:

This month, folks in rural Georgia are preparing to welcome back a beloved Spring migrant-- the Purple Martin. They're hanging gourds which are dried out and carved with holes and these gourds will become spring nesting sites for the birds. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

"I call myself a Purple Martin Landlord."

Wayne Caudell has been hanging Martin gourds for over twenty years. Over the years he's developed his own techniques for turning the gourds into nesting boxes.

"People who know more about Purple Martins than I do, they recommend you bore entrance holes about anywhere from two to two and a half inches. I like two inches the best because starlings give you a lot of trouble. They want to build in the gourds too, you see. So, I use the smallest hole I can, which is two inches. Then you got to bore some quarter inch holes in the bottom of the gourd for the water to run out. And they will not build in the gourd if you don't bore these quarter inch holes in the bottom of it.

"Well some people just hang their gourds just like they come out of the fields, you know, don't paint them or anything. But I found out that if you don't paint 'em, the gourds will get too hot. The little baby birds, they'll leave the gourd before they're mature enough to fly. Cause it's so hot in there. So I started painting my gourds white. And ever since I started painting them white, well I haven't had no problem with birds leaving the gourds too early. 'Course it makes the gourds last longer too."

Our special thanks to folklorist Maggie Holtzberg.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I'm Jim Metzner.