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Birds and Butterflies

Updated: Nov 11, 2019

At the Mueller Plant Fest in early April, we bought a purple martin house that had been donated to raise funds for the Friends of the Mueller Prairie. The three-level, 12-compartment house needed some work, but nothing that seemed too difficult.

The house has entirely too many different types of metal – aluminum roof and floor plates, galvanized steel dividers, painted galvanized exterior panels, ferrous (and very rusted) nuts and bolts, and stainless steel clips holding rebar perches. After too much thinking about galvanic reactions, I probably did not make any significant improvements. The nuts and bolts are now zinc, sacrificial compared with the other metals – though they may corrode away, at least they shouldn’t damage the other metals in the process. The perches are aluminum rods.

I also learned entirely too much about how to paint galvanized metal. Almost all spray paints are alkyd (oil-based), which is incompatible with the zinc coating and paint adhesion will fail. I couldn’t find a store in town carrying the latex spray paint recommended in this blog, so I brushed on an aluminum primer before spray-painting the top coat.

Finally reassembled, we put the birdhouse up in the backyard in early May, perhaps too late to attract a group of martins looking for a nesting site.

While we were not fortunate enough to have nesting birds this spring, we did host another form of developing life. Long-tailed skipper caterpillars devoured almost all of the leaves of our Texas wisteria, then made cocoons from the few that remained. We missed seeing the butterflies emerge, but here’s one preparing for metamorphosis.

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