Archive for Friday, February 18, 2011

Clinton man made land home for purple martins

February 18, 2011


A Clinton resident who opened up his property to purple martin birds and people who loved to watch them has died at age 84.

Franklin Bidinger pioneered a method of attracting the birds to his home near Clinton Lake by carving out gourds for natural bird houses. He and his wife, Betty, got interested in attracting the birds as a means of cutting down on the large mosquito population near their home.

It worked.

“He just loved them to pieces,” Betty said.

At one point, 300 pairs of purple martins made his property their home.

“You don’t see people with such a large colony,” said Louise Chambers of Corpus Christi, Texas, who works as education outreach director for the nonprofit Purple Martin Conservation Association.

Bidinger worked for 20 years in the Lawrence water department and for 13 years at KU’s steam department.

He took pride in his abilities as a fast-pitch softball pitcher, baffling hitters with his crazy pitches, said Bill Oehlert, Bidinger’s stepson from La Porte, Texas. Bidinger played on a town team, and his father often was his catcher, Oehlert said.

“He’s the most natural storyteller and the most interesting — and interested — person you’d ever meet,” Oehlert said.

Friends may call from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. today at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Ind. A procession to Clinton Cemetery will follow the visitation. Graveside services are scheduled for 11:30 a.m.


riverdrifter 7 years, 2 months ago

300 pairs of martins! Waay to go. I'd put up a house and was lucky to get 4-5 pairs. Frank's anti-owl cages were something else. “He just loved them to pieces” And the martins loved him back. Wonderful birds came to wonderful people. Works.

Kookamooka 7 years, 2 months ago

Someone should make a purple martin colony at a local park and name it after him. In his honor. I remember seeing his place on my way to Bloomington Beach. It's got a Sci Fi vibe.

FlintlockRifle 7 years, 2 months ago

I got some of his gourd houses to get purple martins to come to my place, no luck, something ate the gourds

Richard Gwin 7 years, 2 months ago

He got me started on Purple Martins and many a story for LJW, what a guy, he will be missed.

blindrabbit 7 years, 2 months ago

Sorry to hear the loss; I bought some pheasants from a Clinton man in the 1950's who lived close by; I wonder now if it was Mr. Bidinger. They had several species; I turned the critters loose when I joined the Navy.

Tonie Barnett Bruns 7 years, 2 months ago

Did someone not proofread that headline....I had to read the article to understand the headline.

Still_alive_here_in_the_cracks 7 years, 2 months ago

He sounds like he was a wonderful man who was full of spirit and life. My prayers are with the family.

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