QUESTION: I am new to the Middle Georgia area. A relative of mine gave me an article you wrote in 2008 about purple martins. I am interested in being a host to this remarkable bird. What do I need to know to get a colony started?
ANSWER: Purple martins spend the winter in South America. They migrate to this country to breed and raise their young. In this area, depending on the weather, they begin to show up in February. The younger birds usually lag behind, coming in during March and April.
You will need a pole at least 10 feet tall, preferably a telescoping or break-over type so that the gourds can be cleaned after the martins leave in July. I recommend at least 12 gourds that are six inches in diameter or larger. Affix the gourds so that they will not touch each other when swinging in the wind. Drill a 2-inch hole, three inches from the bottom of the gourd. Plastic gourds will suffice, but natural gourds are far better. I like to paint my gourds white, to preserve them and to reflect heat.
Mature birds will return to last year’s nesting site. If you establish a colony, most of them will be younger birds that are breeding for the first time. If they can find a home next to their parents, they will -- so the ones that you get will be those that find a no-vacancy sign at their birth place. Although scouts will be sighted in February, you can have permanent residents show up as late as the first week in May.
It is important that you place the pole away from trees and other obstructions that might prevent the purple martins from having a glide path to the gourds.
QUESTION: I would like to have a trophy bobcat to mount in my den. Using an electronic caller, I have been hunting at 14 different sites, calling early or late in the day and spending 30 minutes at each stand. I have called in five foxes but no sign of a bobcat. Can you give me any advice?
ANSWER: My first bit of advice will be to save you from getting arrested. In Georgia, it is illegal to call foxes and bobcats with an electronic caller. For coyotes, electronics are legal, but for any game animal with a specific season, only manual calls can be used.
While an occasional bobcat can be lured in during the times you mentioned, your success rate will climb considerably if you hunt at night. A light of no more than six volts will meet the Game and Fish regulations.
On occasion, foxes and coyotes can show up in less than five minutes. That is rare for a bobcat, because they approach slowly and cautiously. Most mature bobcats that I have called in, day or night, showed up after the 30-minute mark, and some have kept me waiting more than an hour.
Emory Josey is a freelance writer who has a weekly column. Send questions for him to The Telegraph, P.O. Box 4167, Macon, Ga., 31208-4167, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org