From our guest Blogger Paul Hamel

OPMA Chatter- December, 2022 #1

Hello fellow OPMA members!

This is the first edition of the OPMA Chatter which we hope will be the start of a new tradition in our correspondence with you.

Our association had its beginnings in 2001 when a small group of like-minded individuals started to meet in Gilles Breton’s garage to bring their ideas and discuss their relationship with the Purple Martin.  Soon they were meeting on a regular basis and thus the Essex Purple Martin Association was born. It was made up of 36 local members with Gilles Breton as President, John Balga as vice president, Judy Breton as treasurer, and Mary Wilson as secretary.

Twenty-two years later, we continue to meet but now as the Ontario Purple Martin Association.  The name change took place in 2012 when we realized that our membership had spread out into other Ontario communities mainly because of the creation of our website.  John Balga developed it and continues to improve and maintain it.   Now we have 72 members directed by a board consisting of 7 directors-at-large, as well as Paul Hamel as Chairperson, Mary Wilson as secretary and Al Hamill as treasurer.

Many might ask why we have an association devoted to the Purple Martin.  The answer, or answers, can be found in our list of objectives that we formulated many years ago.  I am going to take a look at some of these in order to answer the question.  I might add that it is easier to achieve these objectives if we do it under the banner of OPMA rather than try to achieve the same objective individually.

The first objective is to promote enthusiasm and appreciation of Purple Martins in the local community and throughout Ontario.  We have achieved this through our local members’ meetings and by participating in the Festival of Hawks, the Leamington Home and Garden Show, and by hosting our own Martin Festival.   Many of our members have also made presentations to other organizations.  We also maintain a website that reaches out to the world with information about our group and the Purple Martin.  It would be quite difficult for one person to achieve this but as a group, we can make a very effective case for the Martin.

second objective is to encourage the installation and management of Purple Martin housing with the aim of increasing nesting accommodations and successful breeding of Purple Martins throughout their nesting range in Ontario.  As many of you know, the Purple Martin nests only in housing provided by landlords east of the Rockies.  It has taken hundreds of years for them to change from nesting in a natural habitat to one provided by humans.  If for some reason we decide not to provide this housing, the Martin population would quickly be reduced because they would have nowhere to have their young.  Could they transition back to nesting in natural habit quickly enough to prevent them from becoming extinct?  Remember it has taken hundreds of years for them to get used to using our housing so you probably can speculate on what the outcome would be.  Our association will continue to provide information and help to prevent this from happening.

third objective is to assist new and existing purple martin landlords by providing advice, guidance, and education to improve the success of their sites.  A successful site means a successful fledging experience.   OPMA has many members who have been involved with the Purple Martin for years and can offer expert advice on how to have a successful colony.  We also have a lending library that has great information on how to manage your site.  It is free for members and any item can be signed out to be used to improve their colony.  We also have information pamphlets from various organizations that we provide to new members to get them started.  By having an association like ours, we are able to make sure that anyone who wants to have a colony can have a successful one.

fourth objective is to monitor trends from year to year by surveying the number of fledged young from Purple Martin houses monitored and reported by our association members.  This is an extremely important role that we play in keeping the statistics on how well the Martin is doing from year to year.  This information is passed on to Nature Canada and can be used to see if the Martin population is increasing, decreasing, or maintaining its numbers in the recording areas.  This would not happen if it were left up to each individual to report their numbers.  It is because of our association asking members and non-members for this information that we are able to gather the required statistics about your colony.   They are recorded and kept for future reference which allows us to compare many years of statistics to see how the Martin is doing.

You can easily see that having an organization like ours greatly benefits the continued success of the Martin.  Hopefully, we can continue on for many more years to bring the joy of being a landlord to all those that would like to get involved with this very beautiful and interesting bird.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of our board to wish each and every one of you a joyous and peaceful holiday season.  2023 will soon be upon us and it won’t be long before reports start coming in about the Purple Martin moving north again.

Paul Hamel, OPMA Chair

Solution for Starling Breaches on SRE Conley II Entrances

    Posted Nov 7, 2022

Purple Martin Products posted on their website that they have found a solution to the probable breaches of the Conley II entrances with a simple plate.

I have posted this information from their website if you are having a problem with any of your entrances. OPMA members did have a problem with Starlings breaching the gourds at HBMO with these entrances.

Starling Stopper’s plates reduce the size of the Conley II entrance, thus keeping the smaller starlings out of your gourd.

Starling Stoppers 


“We’ve been listening for YEARS now that a percentage of starlings especially in the south are breaching the Conley II Entrances.  What percentage of starlings breech a Conley II?  From our study sites in Pennsylvania to customers in Texas to Minnesota and everywhere in between, our estimate is 88% of European Starlings CANNOT get in a Conley II.

This STARLING STOPPER is being offered to keep the remaining approximately 12% of starlings out of gourds or houses with Troyer Tunnels…Starlings and Purple Martins VARY in size across their breeding range in North America.

STARLING STOPPERS are not recommended for people trying to get martins to breed at their location for the first time UNLESS it is a public site or site where trapping and shooting starlings is not an option.  In some instances, sites trying to get them for the first time could try them.  Also, we know of some sites that have NO martins because the starlings chased them away and hopefully the installation of these new Starling Stoppers will give the martins a chance to establish themselves again.

This product is most recommended for existing Landlords having issues with starling breaching the Conley II entrance holes.  States that we hear the most complaints of starling breeching; TX, OK, AR, GA, SC, NC, LA, AL, & MS.  If you are from MN or WI we would not recommend this product to anyone as from what we have gathered Purple Martins and starlings are larger in the Northern states.

Each Starling Stopper is screwed onto the front of the Troyer Tunnel (3 stainless screws are provided with each stopper) thus reducing the size of the entrance hole.

Once the Starling Stopper is installed (THTT) Tunnel Traps cannot be used to trap sparrows unless the Starling Stopper is removed which can be easily done by backing out the three stainless screws.

Due to limited testing at the Troyer’s two sites with over 200 pairs in 2022, we had ZERO Starlings breach any of the Conley II holes.  Every hole at our two sites has SREH.”



Festival of Hawks Holiday Beach September 17, 2022

Festival Of Hawks: Essex Region Conservation

Many thanks to all OPMA members and Board members who came out and supported the Festival of Hawks on September 17, 2022: Paul Hamel, Al Hamill, Marieanne Knapp, Ron Delcourt, Dennis Shady, and John Balga. The  Martin display was well attended throughout the day and many acquaintances were made and a good time talking about Purple Martins was enjoyed by all.

Bird Migration Explorer

A Message from Stuart Mackenzie (Bird Studies Canada)

We’re delighted to share news of the release today of an exciting new way to explore Motus and other tracking data from migratory birds in the United States and Canada called the Bird Migration Explorer. Many collaborators will be familiar with this project from a variety of outreach and direct involvement over the past few years. The explorer is a state-of-the-art digital platform that reveals consolidated migration data for 458 bird species. The platform is a collaborative project led by the National Audubon Society in partnership with 9 other organizations including Birds Canada and is an advanced complement to the public visualization tools at For the first time, it brings together tracking data from all technologies combined into one platform, a multi-dimensional tool for the public, practitioners, and decision-makers to explore migrations and better understand the 19 threats birds face (conservation challenges) along their migration routes.

If you are interested in tracking the whereabouts of Purple Martins, use the link below for more information on this species and others.

Purple Martin Migration

Seven-Year-Old Purple Martin Recovered at Holiday Beach April 2, 2022

Ron Delcourt, one of our OPMA members recovered a Purple Martin at Holiday Beach whose band indicated that it was a 7-year-old who made its final journey. Perhaps, this one was one of the early March arrivals there who encountered cold inclement weather conditions for several days and was too weak to recover. This is interesting in that I banded this Martin in 2015 as a nestling. The picture of the Certificate of Appreciation below tells it all.

Setting up a Nest Check Sheet

The Troyer Group has kindly provided landlords a way to monitor their Martin numbers with a very handy nest check sheet. Make multiple copies if you need more. Purple Martin Products has also been generous to provide the Scrambled Egg Recipe for the Purple Martin.