Martin attack team

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Susquatch
Posts: 58
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:51 pm
Location: Ontario/Blenheim

Today I watched the most amazing thing. Four martins ganging up on a sharpshin. They took turns in rapid fire dive bombing it repeatedly - often knocking out feathers.

The falcon made zero effort to defend itself. It seemed to be scared silly and just wanted to escape its tormentors as quickly as possible.

I have frequently seen song birds torment a hawk or a vulture or a squirrel, but never a falcon.

I have also not seen this martin behaviour described before by anyone else. Is it unusual? Or is this common for martins?

Cheers!
The best way to repay a favour is to pass it on.
DebA
Posts: 1941
Joined: Tue May 04, 2010 7:43 am
Location: Pratt County/Kansas
Martin Colony History: Start 2009 with one pair. Upgraded from S&K houses to two Trendsetter 12's with gourds beneath in 2013. I have experienced job, pet, and parental losses since '13. The Purple Martins lift my spirits and remind me how life continues forward by flying their little selves from Brazil back to my yard. As one forum person once told me, chin up DebA, look at the martins. Danger all around but yet they soar in the sky without a care in the world.

PURPLE MARTINS ARE BAD***.

:)

Seriously I don't know about falcons but have watched the hawk tormenting. Incredible to watch.

Deb
PMCA MEMBER
Pratt County, Kansas
2016 34 PAIR
2015 27 PAIR
2014 23 PAIR
2013 13 PAIR
2012 6 PAIR
2011 4 PAIR
2010 2 PAIR
2009 1 PAIR
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

It's pretty much the norm for martins to mob and attack predators - whether hawks or falcons, plus, at least in my yard - squirrels!
bluetick
Posts: 277
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:21 am
Location: New Lexington, Ohio

It's a very Dangerous time for the Martins in my Opinion when they take on a Sharpshin or a Copper Hawk. If one of them make a mistake and get under the Hawk he will be Dinner. I don't like watching them chase Hawks as I am concern they will turn and catch one of my Martins. Over the years I have seen Sharpshins catch a lot of song birds. JMO.Dave
Susquatch
Posts: 58
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:51 pm
Location: Ontario/Blenheim

bluetick wrote:It's a very Dangerous time for the Martins in my Opinion when they take on a Sharpshin or a Copper Hawk......I have seen Sharpshins catch a lot of song birds. JMO.Dave
That was pretty much my point of view too. I have seen falcons take many doves, cardinals, bluejays, and even the odd racing pigeon. etc.

But the martins were clearly faster despite how fast the falcon was. Amazing really. They had him racing for cover just like the squirrels..... At no point did they get under it. They just smashed into it's back from above.

Cheers!
The best way to repay a favour is to pass it on.
DottieL
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon May 27, 2013 1:36 pm
Location: Augusta, KS (just east of Wichita)

In my birdbooks, Sharpshins are hawks....not falcons...
Dorothy ......in the "Land of the Yellow Brick Road" click click !!
Susquatch
Posts: 58
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:51 pm
Location: Ontario/Blenheim

DottieL wrote:In my birdbooks, Sharpshins are hawks....not falcons...
Yes, technically both the "Coopers Hawk" and the "Sharpshinned Hawk" are considered to be hawks. I am sure that there are some specific characteristics that result in that classification. But to be honest, I have no idea what that is. I do know that they have rounded wing tips like most hawks instead of pointed wing tips like most falcons. A few falcons also "stoop" - ie plummet at extremely high speed from high above. I have never seen either the Coopers or the Sharpshinned stoop. Beyond these two characteristics I think they have little else in common with most other hawks and lots in common with falcons. Most Hawks thermal and soar riding air currents to hunt for small mammals which they drop on from above. Falcons hunt at high speed chasing down and killing mostly birds.

In any event, from the point of view of their songbird prey, Coopers and Sharpshinned are clearly very very dangerous. Until now, I have never seen them chased before. Its always the other way around. In fact, I know when a Sharpshinned, Coopers, (and the odd Gyrfalcon, or Peregrine) is in the neighbourhood because all the song birds go totally nuts. They typically fly high in the air avoiding trees and bushes where the raptors have the advantage and they make a great ruckus to warn all the other birds. They do not do this with regular hawks. `If songbirds could talk, I'd be willing to bet that they would classify them all as falcons.....

Right or wrong, that's my excuse for calling them falcons too.

Cheers!
The best way to repay a favour is to pass it on.
bluetick
Posts: 277
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:21 am
Location: New Lexington, Ohio

Susquatch they both eat song birds. In my area there are a lot more sharpshins than Coopers. A lot of people call the sharpshin a Cooper Hawk beause they don't know the difference. It is hard to tell as the Cooper is just a little bigger and looks about the same. I would like to see my birds go in the gourds for cover and let me chase the hawks off but they don't do it that way they always chase after the hawks. I don't think the redtail hawk is much danger to the Martins. Nice talking to you. Good luck with your Martins. Dave
~Ray~Gingerich
Posts: 2122
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 10:24 pm
Location: Delaware/Dover

Sometimes I wished the martins would just flee when a hawk arrives, I hate to see them go out to chase them away. Cooper hawks are skilled cannibals and your martins are in danger every time the chase is on. I have seen them grab adult martins when they try to divert the hawk away from their young. Have seen them corral their prey to an area of the hawks liking such as an overgrown area and then force them down to make a catch. They can snatch a martin, tuck it up under the belly where it's hard to see and fly away at top speed, to a person watching it looks like there wasn't a catch.
A coopers hawk has many tricks up his sleave to trap your martins. They Kill many more martins than most people think. Although an adult martin can outfly a hawk in the wide open that dosen't mean they can't be caught.
~Ray~ Gingerich
1999 1pair, 2006 2 pair, 2008 2 pair,
2009 23 pair, 2010 39 pair, 2011 67 pair,
2012 115 pair, 2013 160 pair,
2014 152 pair, 2015 174 pair, 2016 178 pair
2017 187 pair, 2018 200 pair, 2019 171pair
2020 233 pair
bluetick
Posts: 277
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:21 am
Location: New Lexington, Ohio

Ray I believe you are spot on. Everything you said is how I see it. Have a good day. Dave
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