Successful Hawk attack

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
birdy girl
Posts: 1178
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

It is going to be a long stressful spring and summer. Three hawks have been here today trying to get a martin and he was successful this afternoon. I had walked to colony to put eggs and crickets out on feeder tray cause it is so cold and windy here today and the martins were hungry. I had seen a martin gliding toward the racks from just over the pines. I finished what I was doing and thought I saw a larger bird grab another bird. I heard a muffled sound like the captured bird tried to yell. It went to the ground and all I could see was black. Looked like a crow. I clapped my hands to see if I flew up. Sure enough, it was a hawk, with black and white striped tail. Makes me angry and just sick.

Don't know if morning attack was successful or not but martins came back to racks and gourds quickly, so I am guessing not successful. Second attack I ran out the door and the hawk was trying to get a decoy attached to top of Gemini rack. I ran him off quickly, unsuccessful.

The martins and young are going to have a hard time here with all these attacks.
birdy girl
Posts: 1178
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

Apparently the hawk snuck up behind the martin and none of the other martins saw it. The captured martin couldn't alarm the others. I guess the martins were watching me with the food and just not paying attention.
MamaBruff
Posts: 1466
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:21 pm
Location: SW Missouri
Martin Colony History: 2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.

((HUG))
~Mary B~

Lifelong PM Admirer and Nature Enthusiast.
Ruthless trapper of S&S year round.
2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.
chickadee
Posts: 1126
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:02 pm
Location: ohio

since you have martins maybe you should take the decoys down? i have herd mixed feelings about this. but my opinion it would bring hawks since it sits their all day. just a thought.
2008 first year 1 pair. 2009 3 pair. 2010 7 pair. 2011 20 pair . 2012 44 pair 280 eggs 210 fledged. 2013 67 pair. 2014?
birdy girl
Posts: 1178
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

Another successful attack! :-( they are freaking unstoppable. They are going to devastate our colony. Once they are successful, they will keep coming back. It won't matter if I have decoys up or not. He went for a live bird this time. They soon learn decoys are fake.
chickadee
Posts: 1126
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:02 pm
Location: ohio

I hate to hear this. I would say try to cage them in. do not know if the hawk would hit the cage and that would help? I have never had hawk issues. I see you have a large colony. hopefully someone else with a large site and hawk problem will chime in here.
2008 first year 1 pair. 2009 3 pair. 2010 7 pair. 2011 20 pair . 2012 44 pair 280 eggs 210 fledged. 2013 67 pair. 2014?
birdy girl
Posts: 1178
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

Most of the successful attacks are when martins are flying within the colony or when they are leaving or coming into the colony. This hawk was so fast and the martins were yelling. Think the one he got was leaving a rack or came from a gourd when it heard the alarm calls. He was probably very close to colony when they saw him and didn't get in the air soon enough. He came in low not from up high in sky. This is so upsetting. Wish I could handle it better. But after all the years we been having martins, it is NOT any easier to see a hawk catch a martin.
KathyF
Posts: 3518
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 1:57 pm
Location: Missouri/Licking
Martin Colony History: Colony started - 2007 with one pair
As of 2018 - 84 cavities offered, max # of pairs hosted - 82.

Birdygirl, I'm so sorry - it will never get any easier. I know that I've lost martins to the hawks, but all we can do is try to reduce the number they catch while IN your colony. Sadly, nothing we can do while they're in flight. I know Steve Kroenke does hawk patrols at the peak times for their expected attacks and I do too (except when I'm sleeping in, but I try not to). Get yourself one of those boat horns from Walmart and scare the bejesus out of your hawk when you see him / her approaching. It not only shocks the hawk, but launches your colony into the air.

As to the decoys - well, I am one of those that disagrees with the idea that decoys attract hawks. Before I had a martin colony, I only backyard bird feeders. The noise level there was significant. There were a few birds that came to the feeders - mostly woodpeckers that were very quiet, but the rest would land in the surrounding trees and chatter away. My local sharpie and cooper's attacked there frequently in the early spring. Then after putting in a martin colony, they turned there sights to it. Again, with over 150 birds, the noise level is enough to wake the dead in the mornings.
I've tried it both ways - with and without decoys. They attack either way. In fact - my husband just told me a few minutes ago that our local Cooper's hawk attacked my colony at 6:50 this morning - she swooped through, then turned and tried to grab one of the many decoys (14 of them) I have mounted on my racks, then gave up and just perched on top of the gourd rack.
Last year, before I had put up all my decoys, I was having to feed crickets for 6 weeks as we had extreme cold here through May 1st. I had placed crickets on the porches of gourds and housing. One martin was sitting on a porch eating and a huge red-tail hawk swooped in and grabbed him. Red tails don't typically attack my martins, but that day he did.
I deploy a number of "counter-measures" here, that I've documented in this post. Good luck and I hope your season gets better.

http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com/2014/03 ... m-owl.html
"Sometimes", said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
2016 - 82 pair
2015 - 76 pair
2014 - 75 pair
2013 - 75 pair
2012-72 pair
http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com
Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

I think the best solution (from a wildlife management point of view) was KathyF's solution where she found the attack path taken by the hawk and then placed her feeders between the hawk's path and the martin house. She posted about it at http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com/2014/03 ... m-owl.html

I believe her actions helped the martins, because the feeding birds would raise there alarm calls as soon as the hawk flew over. All the nose and motion was confusing to the hawk. In addition the hawk had a wider choice in prey selection. It removed some of the predator pressure from the martins, because sooner or later the hawk would make a successful kill. In this case the feeder birds were considered more "expendable" than martens from the colony.

It's funny, from the time I started bird watching I've always been fascinated by hawks and accipiters in particular. I remember back in the mid '00s. I had a feeder near McDade TX out in the country. One day I saw a Coopers hawk that was munching on a goldfinch near my bird feeder. I liked the goldfinch, because I was wanting to see them in spring colors before they left my area for there breading ground. At the same time, they did travel in large flocks, so that a few missing birds were not going to effect the population. Also, a hawks has to eat something. Soon, I found my self wanting to make some sort of bargain with the hawk.
my imagination wrote: OK, You can come by one a week and get a goldfinch or a native sparrow (I never saw HOSP at that location) from my feeder once per week and I will leave my feeder alone and not move it. but if you try and make my bird feeder an easy meal than I will move it and make it harder on you. Also I know the Red-bellied woodpecker would make a nice meal for you, but please, please, pleeeese don't eat him. His antics brighten my day and I would miss him if he were gone.
In reality I guess my feeder was not so easy after all, because I never saw the hawk again. Or the feathers left behind after an hawk plucks it's prey.

EDIT: added KathyF and linked to her blog entry
Last edited by Steve Martin on Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
birdy girl
Posts: 1178
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

Kathy,
Where do you get the boat horn? Can you post a picture?

Saw mr hawk this morning. He was high in the sky at a good distance away. The martins found him and was yelling so loud. He swooped down and around a few time trying to snag one. Then all of a sudden he went down into the trees. Didn't have binoculars with me but I am thinking he was successful since he hurriedly went down into the trees so he could enjoy his meal.

I realize there is nothing I can do at this distance from the colony. It makes me wish I didn't have a colony because I feel so helpless to help protect these wonderful birds. Almost gave up with this hobby couple years ago and this year may do me in. Just wish I didn't care so much.

Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful comments. I know most here have had to deal with the sadness of seeing hawks take martins away. For those of your that are so fortunate to NOT have hawks or owls preying on your martins, count your blessings.
Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

birdy girl wrote:I realize there is nothing I can do at this distance from the colony. It makes me wish I didn't have a colony because I feel so helpless to help protect these wonderful birds. Almost gave up with this hobby couple years ago and this year may do me in. Just wish I didn't care so much.
I really hate hearing this, I'm not sure what I should say. Maybe, because, I do not have a colony, I can be so emotionally detached from the situation that I can view it as wildlife management. And I can even make semi-glib remarks about hawk predation.

I don't know if watching "The Lion King" movie would help you. But you can not loose sight that you are dealing with the circle of life. As a successfully landlord your colony will draw attention from predators, there is no way around that. However the martin population is increasing because of efforts of you and people like you. If you take down your house, then it will be a net loss for the martin population as a whole.

I'm not sure what sort of advice to give you, have a good cry, have a beer, watch the lion king, but in the end you must remember the circle of life.
birdy girl
Posts: 1178
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

Steve,
I think red tail hawks and red shoulder hawks are beautiful. We have those around here too. I just saw 2 red tailed hawks recently today while my eyes were scanning the sky. I welcome their presence, but as for the others, I have NO good thoughts what so ever.

Hawk patrol is rough on the neck.

Can't wait till our Eastern King birds arrive. They will help with hawk patrol.
Saw 2 tree swallows flying around this morning. Amazing what you see when you are just sitting out watching your martins.

I saw a male taking leaves into a nest cavity and his mate just watched. Also saw another male carry out a stick from their cavity. Guess he didn't like it for nest material. Also noticed a SY female here this morning. But no SY males yet.
KathyF
Posts: 3518
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 1:57 pm
Location: Missouri/Licking
Martin Colony History: Colony started - 2007 with one pair
As of 2018 - 84 cavities offered, max # of pairs hosted - 82.

Steve Martin wrote:I think the best solution (from a wildlife management point of view) was a member here who posted that he/she found the attack path taken by the hawk and then placed his/her feeders between the hawk's path and the martin house. (Sorry can't find the post, it was an active forum user that posted it).
Steve - that was me... :grin: I just reposted the link to the article above. :wink:
"Sometimes", said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
2016 - 82 pair
2015 - 76 pair
2014 - 75 pair
2013 - 75 pair
2012-72 pair
http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com
KathyF
Posts: 3518
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 1:57 pm
Location: Missouri/Licking
Martin Colony History: Colony started - 2007 with one pair
As of 2018 - 84 cavities offered, max # of pairs hosted - 82.

birdygirl, they're "boat safety horns"...boaters use them to warn people away from their swimmers or downed skiers..
When using these, do NOT use them in the house - they are SUPER loud. And always point away from you. I recommend a field test - pointed at the woods or a field away from things, so you can get an idea of how loud it is.
:lol:

here's one example:

http://www.amazon.com/Falcon-Safety-Sup ... =boat+horn

Also, do you have nesting tree swallows & bluebirds? If not, consider encouraging them to nest around your site. They make good "sentries" also.
"Sometimes", said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
2016 - 82 pair
2015 - 76 pair
2014 - 75 pair
2013 - 75 pair
2012-72 pair
http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com
birdy girl
Posts: 1178
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

Kathy,
We have several pair of nesting BB each year. Cannot get tree swallows to nest here. Wish they would. Hoping our Great Crested Flycatchers come back this year and still waiting on our Eastern Kingbirds. They will all help.

I will try to find a boat horn and keep around my neck when I go outside.

Thanks
Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

A wise person once wrote:Sorry to hear the coopers are catching your fledglings. I breaks my heart that this happens. I feel your pain and know I will probably experience this in the near future. Just hang in there and do the best you can. This is one of the tragedies and heartbreak of having martins. Can you stand out there and maybe breakup his catch? Get you a boat horn and use that. Some on the forums do that and the loud sound scars them and maybe some of the fledglings can get away long enough to maybe survive. Also banging two pans together may help also. I also know it is impssible to stand out at a martin colony all the time. Just a thought. Hope things get better for your martins.
birdy girl
Posts: 1178
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

Steve
I sure hope it gets better too. Thanks for the wise quote.
Jose Rodriguez
Posts: 692
Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:34 am
Location: FL/Belleview

I truly understand the emotional impact it has on your heart when a hawk takes out one of our feather friends. We stopped getting so closely attached to our pet pigeons when we finally realized the attacks were going to hurt too much. We use to have names for our birds by the colors of their feature patterns. Our area is loaded with Cooper's hawks. These are the worst. We call them Bullets cause they come in so fast from a nearby tree. They are ambushers, waiting for the right moment. We also have the red tail (larger) hawks and the Kestrel hawks. We don't have a problem with the red tail hawks and we like the Kestrels cause they point out the Cooper's hawk by chasing them. We also have lots of blue jays and crows that get very noisy when a hawk is in the trees. Hang in there we all go through this but we enjoy our cause and thats why we do it and continue to march.

Best of luck!
birdy girl
Posts: 1178
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

Thanks Jose. Hope you have a great year for your martins. :grin:
KathyF
Posts: 3518
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 1:57 pm
Location: Missouri/Licking
Martin Colony History: Colony started - 2007 with one pair
As of 2018 - 84 cavities offered, max # of pairs hosted - 82.

Birdy girl - I thought of you yesterday. I was refueling the fire on one of my stumps and casually watching my martins. I had left my boat horn on my deck because it was 2 PM and I didn't think a hawk would be around in early afternoon and frankly, I got lazy.

Well, sure enough, a Sharpie dropped out of the sky and, even though the martins were alerted early, he managed to snag a martin in mid air flight. I ran after him screaming at him and whether it was the fact that he had only managed to grab the martin's wing or he was stunned by my shrieking, but nevertheless the martin escaped.

I think I need to come up with a "boat horn holster", so I don't have to worry about misplacing it and I will always have it with me. I grabbed the rest of my dove and remaining 4 decoys and dispersed them - total of 18 out now. He came back today and only grabbed plastic. Whew!
"Sometimes", said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
2016 - 82 pair
2015 - 76 pair
2014 - 75 pair
2013 - 75 pair
2012-72 pair
http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com
Post Reply