"I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me."Missouri's unofficial state slogan is "Show Me" and regardless of how it originated, it is now used to indicate the stalwart, noncredulous character of Missourians. Since 2010, I have been sending out a newsletter and publishing newspaper articles on purple martins in order to meet Missouri landlords. I have participated in multiple purple martin forums and seen many of those come and go along the way. I've seen all types of people on this journey; there are the "keyboard warriors" who are really only interested in sitting behind a keyboard and offering their sage advice to anyone they can get to listen, but they never really "show me" anything. Others are only interested in sharing their pictures and talking about themselves, never really showing me anything either. Then there are those who do, much to my delight, really "show me".
--Missouri's U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver - 1899
One of the first landlords with whom I first made contact in late 2011 when he subscribed to my newsletter was Jerry, located in Troy, MO, approximately 150 miles north east of my location.
How Jerry found out about me, I don't even recall - we've never even met; but he has been in regular contact since that time, letting me know how his colony is growing, issues he's dealing with and his nest check and fledge results.
In 2011, he had 26 pair and after losing ~20 birds to a Great Horned Owl, he added the red flashing NiteGuard lights to the top of his rack to try to deter it, along with individual owl guards for his gourds.
|Jerry's gourd racks. The GHO just laughed at his red blinky lights.|
The lights didn't help with his issues but the wire owl guards did, losing only one to an owl in 2012. Even with the continued owl problems, his colony continued to grow and he reported 38 nesting pair in 2012, with 116 fledged.
In July 2013, I received an email from Jerry with the subject line, "You Have Mail - Bunny". My curiosity piqued, I opened it and spewed my coffee on my monitor. Jerry's owl had paid his site another visit and left him a present (and maybe a message?) on his starling trap. Who knew that an owl could be so vindictive?
|Jerry said, "This is exactly how it was found. HONEST."|
Jerry started out the 2014 season by only opening 16 gourds at his colony. As the number of martins grew, so did the fighting. This was prime real estate and the older adults knew it! After 2 weeks Jerry was ready to throw in the towel, but he was willing to go one more week. Finally, before Jerry had to resort to anxiety medication, Bruce reported by 4/22 that he had 7 martins staying at his site.
Jerry happily threw open the doors, offering 48 gourds total. He finished the year with 40 pair, 174 fledged and lost 4 fledges to his GHO.
And his neighbor? Bruce ended the year with 8 pair. How cool is that?
Both Bruce and Jerry are gearing up for a purple martin palooza this year. They have have each now installed a Super System 24 in their backyards, with Jerry offering 72 gourds and Bruce offering 36 gourds in 2015.
These type of people - these fellow Missourians truly step up to the plate and show me. I am so proud to live in a state where they don't just talk the talk - they walk the walk.
Fellow Missourians - showing and leading the way for the future of purple martins - you make me proud to be a part of it. Thank you, Jerry and Bruce - best of luck to you both this year! Jerry, I look forward to more "Bunny" mail from you.
Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them.
--Orison Swett Marden