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"Gourd-Style" Bird Houses Hang From Satellite Dish
Old TV satellite dishes make great purple martin bird houses when you hang gourds from them, says Bud Dodd, Winfield, Alabama, who converted an old 8-ft. dia. satellite dish.
  He mounted the dish upside down on top of a metal pole and hung about 25 big home-grown gourds from it.
  "I've been making purple martin bird houses for many years, but I think this idea is by far the best yet. It looks nice and supports a lot of birds, and it doesn't cost much to put together," says Dodd.
  The satellite dish - with all the mesh screen stripped away from it - mounts on a 1 1/2-in. dia. pole about 17 ft. above the ground. The gourds are attached by short lengths of wire to the dish's frame and are spaced about 3 ft. apart. The dish can be quickly raised or lowered from the ground by turning a crank attached by cable to a 2-ft. length of pipe welded to the center part of the dish. The cable runs over a pulley at the top of the pole.
  "I built it two years ago and also built another unit that's nearly identical. I've had good luck with both of them," says Dodd. "The two satellite dishes can support a total of up to 150 purple martins. I mounted a small metal ring above the middle part of the dish for the birds to perch on.
  "It takes only about a half minute to lower the dish to the ground. I lower the dish after each nesting season so I can clean the gourds out. I store it in my barn during the winter months."
  It's important to space the gourds far enough apart so they can swing in high winds without bumping against each other and cracking, says Dodd. "The gourds have to be at least 8 inches in diameter in order to provide enough room for the birds. I put a cupful or so of cedar shavings in each gourd to keep mites and fleas away."
  According to Dodd, natural gourds work better than commercial plastic ones because they stay cooler in hot weather. He uses a hole saw to make a 2 1/8-in. dia. entry hole and then cleans out the inside with a spoon. After that he brushes on primer followed by a coat of white paint. "The white color keeps the temperature inside the gourds about eight degrees cooler than it would be otherwise," he says. He also bores four or five 1/4-in. dia. holes around the gourd for ventilation, and he drills four or five small holes in the bottom for drainage.
  Rubber-coated wire is used to connect the gourds to the dish frame. "It doesn't wear through the gourd as much as plain wire," notes Dodd.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bud Dodd, 2494 Co. Rd. 69, Winfield, Alabama 35594 (ph 205 487-6553).

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2003 - Volume #27, Issue #1