hand warmers

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trisha
Posts: 428
Joined: Fri May 27, 2005 1:12 pm
Location: Texas/Burleson, south of Fort Worth

Hello All. I'm looking forward to another successful season. Can anyone tell me where to find hand warmers to put inside the houses to keep my martins warm. Last year we had some really cold weather after they arrived and I want to be prepared this year. I still have six to eight weeks to get ready.

Good luck to everyone this year. I'll be so glad when they are back. They really brighten my day.

Trisha
Trisha


PMCA member
2019, 36 pair
Al Denton
Posts: 1465
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 7:31 pm
Location: Carolina Shores NC
Martin Colony History: New site and housing for 2018...Trendsetter 12. 1 pair of subs. Fledged 5...2019...11 pairs

I bought a big handful at Lowes a few years ago. Hardware store usually sale them, and I've seen them in some of the drug stores.
2018-new site...1 pair
2019-11 pairs
bedwards97
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 7:16 am
Location: Illinois/Brookport

Try Wal-Mart sporting goods section.
trisha
Posts: 428
Joined: Fri May 27, 2005 1:12 pm
Location: Texas/Burleson, south of Fort Worth

Thanks! do I just put it underneath the nesting material?
Trisha


PMCA member
2019, 36 pair
Linda Reynolds
Posts: 1308
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 8:33 pm
Location: Adamsville, TN

prees, it is encouraging and commendable that you are thinking and planning ahead. You can never go wrong by being prepared.

We live in Tennessee and last season our first martin arrived on February 13th and the second on the 14th. One was not in good shape, and we were experiencing TERRIBLE temperatures and weather conditions. It was obvious they were going to need more help than just providing supplemental feeding.

2007 was the year we started using hand warmers in the cavities, and I really believe that effort helped to save the lives of our two earliest arrivals.

Below, I am going to paste copies of information I shared with friends last season. The information is dated and documents the conditions and our observations and opinions about the hand warmers....I sincerely hope this information is helpful to you and others:

February 16, 2007:
Temps are still quite threatening and will not improve until Monday, so we still have two *need to feed* days ahead of us.......I believe they will both survive if we continue our supplemental feedings.

Hand warmer packets in the cavities have helped then overcome 13 degree nights. This is our first year to actually use hand warmers, and I will never again be without them in my early arrival arsenal of equipment.....

February 17, 2007:
Paul purchased two types of hand warmers at Wal-Mart. Because I try only to lower the rack once a day to remove and replace the warmers about 4:00 in the afternoon, I do not know exactly how long they are lasting, but I do think they are helping.

One type is called Super Hot Hands by HeatMax, made in USA, and claims to last UP TO 18 hours. These come three in a package for $1.97

Heat Max Hand Warmers

The other type is called Stay Warm, made in Japan, and claims to last UP TO 24 hours. These are also three to a package for $1.97

Stay Warm Hand Warmers

Yesterday when I removed the one 24 hour packet that we placed in the gourd the day before, the nesting material was still slightly warm, so I am guessing this one might provide enough warmth to get them through the night.

February 17, 2007:

We are now only using the *up to* 24 hour warmers. Even if they last half that time, it will help them get through the night.

Our gourds are sizable and both martins are sharing a gourd, so we place two in each of two gourds they have been using. We then cover the packets with a light layer of pine needles. I believe they are helping.

At one time it was recommended that they be placed in a sock or glove, but that is NOT necessary. They are packaged in a very nice cloth packet and I am not at all fearful their nails will catch on the fabric.

Our two early arrivals have used two gourds, so to insure they use the ones containing the hand warmers, we have plugged all other gourds. Today's weather was absolutely awful and probably presented our worse weather conditions yet. The martins have spent most of the day inside the gourd that contained the packets we placed yesterday. I am hoping they were still emitting just a little heat.

At 3:00 this afternoon, Paul lowered the rack and replaced the warmers while I flung. The female is not accepting food today as aggressively as she has done since the 13th. I hope she is simply not running out of steam.......this bad weather has lasted just too long and sometimes, in spite of all that we do, we cannot save them all.

Tomorrow will also be another *need to feed* day, and predicted to be a little better than today. If I can just get them through until Monday, perhaps they will be okay.
Ever-Grateful,
Linda
Linda Reynolds
Posts: 1308
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 8:33 pm
Location: Adamsville, TN

prees, and others............I should have added to my post above. Both those early arrivals not only survived, but thrived, and fledged healthy, and substantial young.........

The efforts put into supplemental heating and feeding really do pay off. No early arrivals, or martins involved in late spring storms or low temps have died at our site. The extra effort really does pay off......
Ever-Grateful,
Linda
LarryMelcher/KY
Posts: 675
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 12:08 pm
Location: Kentucky/Shepherdsville

Linda,
Some folks may read this and think, "Wow. Some people go overboard."

But I admire your " 110 % effort."
At anything in life, you only get out of it, what you put into it.

4 or 5 years back, I began flinging crickets to my early arrivials. One year I did not put 100% percent in my efforts and was greeted with a dead martin on my backporch. I felt horrible. I know we can't be there for them all the time, but I knew I could have done more.

Thanks for posting all the info on "taking care of early arrivials". I hope others read this and try it out.
I manage 2 public sites, and one at home, for a total of 172 cavities. Board Member / Non Profit PMCA.
Find videos that I edit for the PMCA Youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/PurpleMartinPMCA
Al Denton
Posts: 1465
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 7:31 pm
Location: Carolina Shores NC
Martin Colony History: New site and housing for 2018...Trendsetter 12. 1 pair of subs. Fledged 5...2019...11 pairs

Linda..Thanks for posting the information about handwarmers. I have some already just in case.
2018-new site...1 pair
2019-11 pairs
Linda Reynolds
Posts: 1308
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 8:33 pm
Location: Adamsville, TN

Larry, you are right, and that very thing has happened. I was ridiculed for my supplemental feeding and heating efforts. Does it bother me?? NO!!!! Our martins are healthy, happy, well-cared for, and fortunately, we have the time to invest in their well-being. I only hope the information I share will encourage others to do the best they can.

Many younger landlords and ladies need to go to work, pick up kids from school, shop, do laundry, fix dinner, and do all the other things involved with caring for their family. Birds are, and should be secondary to that effort. Paul and I are retired, so we can spend the time doing all that can be done. Landlords can only do the best they can with the time they have to do it.

No one should ever feel diminished if they do not have the time to perform extraordinary efforts, but if you do have the time, your efforts, will pay off.

Thank you for your thoughtful, kind words........
Ever-Grateful,
Linda
LarryMelcher/KY
Posts: 675
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 12:08 pm
Location: Kentucky/Shepherdsville

Linda,
I feel ridiculous sometimes while doing the things I do for my birds. I wonder, " Are the neighbor watching? Do they think I'm crazy?"

I'll bet they do. I'm crazy and proud of it. Crazy of birds. It is cheap backyard entertainment. I'm especially proud on days like today when all the birds in the neighborhood seem to be waiting for ME to fill my feeders. I'm the only one (that I know of) that has missed only a couple of days over the past year or 2. Birds come to the yards where they can count on food being there.

We know you are doing a great deed to your feathered friends by putting hand warmers in their gourds. And may you be blessed with many healthy Purple Martins in your yard. I have not tried the hand warmers, but you have not steered me wrong yet.

This hobby is like any other hobby. I remember you telling of folks that visit you that can't believe the bird activity. It's because you are consistent, and go the extra effort.

The information YOU share is valuable information. I've seen it in my own backyard.
I manage 2 public sites, and one at home, for a total of 172 cavities. Board Member / Non Profit PMCA.
Find videos that I edit for the PMCA Youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/PurpleMartinPMCA
zoefluf
Posts: 586
Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:51 pm
Location: Bush, Louisiana

Linda,

You go girl!! I think you rock! Only a responsible, loving, caring individual would go to the extremes that you do for your PM's. When I grow up I want to be just like you! :wink:
Even though this will give my husband more fuel for his ridicule of my PM obsession, I'm going shopping tonight for those hand-warmers. :)
Jeanne
"Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap, yet your heavenly Father feeds them."
Ken Landry

I would be afraid that the chemicals in the handwarmers might be dangerous to the martins. Did you do any research on the chemicals contained in them before using them?
Dawn~KS
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu May 31, 2007 2:24 pm
Location: Kansas

Ken, assuming that the ingredients in the warmers that Linda is using are comparable to some that I have.....................mine say the ingredients are all natural and non-toxic. They are iron, water, cellulose, vermiculite, activated carbon, and salt. Since she puts a light layer of pine needles over hers and the birds have a layer of feathers...............I would think they will be okay. Just my thinking. :)

I have hand-warmers on hand for this coming season (as well as crickets), but they have shorter *hours* so I may get some more. I think they are a very good tool to help get our early arrivals through some of the tough weather they experience. We all do what *we* can and and we can be satisfied with that. I will do as much as Linda as I am a stay at home mom and I can. I thank Linda for sharing her experiences as they will be very helpful to me when the need arises! :)
trisha
Posts: 428
Joined: Fri May 27, 2005 1:12 pm
Location: Texas/Burleson, south of Fort Worth

Linda, thank you so much for the valuable information! My martins are like my doggies, part of the family so I want to save as many as I can. Thanks for your dedication and everyone here on the forum.

Trisha
Trisha


PMCA member
2019, 36 pair
Linda Reynolds
Posts: 1308
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 8:33 pm
Location: Adamsville, TN

Ken, I agree. Your concern is valid and for that very reason, I did, in fact consult with a professional chemist prior to using the warmers.

I am sometimes hesitant to believe claims made by manufacturers, as they may on occasion prove to be false. Although the text on the packaging claims these warmers are environmentally friendly, non-toxic, safe and contain only natural ingredients, I felt I needed more information before placing them into cavities used by martins. Therefore, I consulted with a chemist. Not only is my information from a professional Harvard graduate who worked as a research chemist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., he is also a martin landlord. Because he hosts a well-managed colony, he had an immediate and complete understanding of how and why I intended to use this product.

All of the ingredients used are familiar chemicals such as iron powder, water, salt, activated charcoal and vermiculite. Vermiculite is a silicate mineral that has been heated to a high temperature to drive off water, a process called "exfoliation". There are no heavy metals, and no organic molecules that would degrade slowly such as chlorohydrocarbons (lindane and the like). Nothing, in his opinion, used in the hand warmers would cause harm to the environment if the packet was opened and the contents released into the environment. He feels that the use of these products poses no hazard to the martins.

I cannot provide endorsement for other products, but because of my experience with the two products I have mentioned above, I can provide information about the integrity of the packaging that holds the ingredients. They are encased in a tightly woven gauze-like packet. The packet is almost impossible to tear open and I have no fear that the contents will ever spill out within the cavity unless the martins are using scissors or pocket knives.

In order for these products to work, they MUST be covered. There is a very slow release of heat, and that heat must be contained in order for the warmer to be effective (much like a feather comforter). I open the package, expose it to the air, shake the contents, and then bury it within the pre-nesting material and cover it with additional nesting material.

Again, thanks for raising concern, but to the very best of my knowledge, I feel the two products I have mentioned are completely safe for use within the cavities. I cannot comment on other products, nor do I know anything about the "up to" 6, 8, or 12 hour warmers. Because of my experience last season, I truly believe using the warmers saved the life of a very diminished and weak ASY male that arrived on February 14th. I will not hesitate to use them again when and if needed.

Super HotHands (18 hours):

http://www.heatmax.com/HotHands/superhothands.htm

Stay Warm Hand and Body Warmer (24 hours):

http://www.papaswarehouse.com/Detail.bok?no=131
Ever-Grateful,
Linda
Ken Landry

[quote=" They are iron, water, cellulose, vermiculite, activated carbon, and salt. Since she puts a light layer of pine needles over hers and the birds have a layer of feathers...............I would think they will be okay. Just my thinking. :)

[/quote]

It is my understanding that the iron powder turns into rust when activated and I was be afraid that the martins might peck at the package and eat some of the rust or water could cause some of it to drain out into the nesting cavity. If the packages are as strong as stated, my concern might be unwarranted. I sure hope so! I sometimes wonder what we are doing by not letting nature take its course. I hope we are not creating conditions where the birds begin returning sooner because of their surviving due to human interference. This would cause the demise of many more birds than the few that return and are lost to cold weather. It just might be that the other martins learn from this and do not return as soon the next year. Just my thoughts. :)
Nanette
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:07 pm
Location: Virginia/Woodbridge

Hi,

I too purchased hand warmers for the coming season. Last year, my gourd rack was covered with snow after the Easter storm and it was a mixed blessing. I had tried to feed my Martins crickets in the past but they would not eat. Last year, several hundred crickets and 2 days after the cold weather, the martins took the food. The reason I said it was a mixed blessing is that my Martins are now trained.

One of the things I worried about was how much energy the birds were expending flying and catching the crickets/mealworms. I was amazed at how quickly the Martins lost their fear of me and how quickly they learned to "beg" at the mere site of my door opening! I figured that if the Martins were that smart, it wouldn't take them long to recognize worms in the bed and breakfast feeder. I was soooo relieved both physically and emotionally when they took to the feeder almost immediately. I strongly feel that everyone should have a platform feeder. If not for grit/eggshells, then for supplemental feeding. The Martins were able to chow down 8-10 mealworms without having to move. I even put out worms during the nesting season when we had rain or chilly weather. There were always a few Martins using the mealworms to feed their nestlings. Some people claim that the Martins might become dependant upon the worms but if ever I put out worms when the weather was good, there were no takers.
Fledge on!
Nanette
Guest

I guess I don't have a strong opinion for or against using the hand warmers. I imagine that the chemicals used in them tend to be of the harmless variety, and they do work (my wife uses toe warmers when we go to the woods to cut and split firewood).

I do think that before going to the extremes of inserting hand warmers in every nest cavity, the first step in assisting the birds is to have a good supply of pine straw or similar nesting material in them. Given the insulating ability of good and dry nesting material, combined with the birds own built-in feather insulation will protect them surprisingly well in very cold weather. Adding sub-floors to nesting cavities will also help roosting birds to retain heat.

I think that the greatest threat to the birds is lack of food and/or water during inclement weather. The birds require food and water to produce body heat and if those are available they can maintain in cold spells. Train your birds to eat supplemental food when the weather isn't bad so they will know how and where to get it when it becomes a matter of life and death.

Best wishes to everyone with your martin colonies this season!

Jeff
Ken Landry

Nanette,

I know everyone is doing what they personally feel is best. However, my concern is what will happen to those birds that are trained to accept supplemental feeding and warm nests when that particular landlord is no longer around due to illness, death, etc. or they move to another location where the landlord does not provide this things.

I'm afraid we could be creating a future castastrophy for our beloved birds because we are unwilling to let nature take its course.
Guest

Ken,
I'm afraid we could be creating a future castastrophy for our beloved birds because we are unwilling to let nature take its course.
I understand what you are saying, but the problem is that the martins have become dependent on man-made housing and support mainly due to man-made issues such as house sparrows, starlings, changing weather, etc.

In places like Michigan the martin populations have been decreasing dramatically for a long time. I think that if things are left to continue without the assistance of hard-working colony hosts that areas like ours will one day be totally void of martins.

It's sad, but man has impacted nature in so many negative ways that in many instances only man can (try) help prevent extinction of many species. The Whooping Crane project is a good example.

Jeff Nelson
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