Sharpshinned Hawk Attacking Martin Housing

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Dick Sherry
Posts: 774
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:30 pm
Location: Tulsa, OK

Two times in the last three days I have seen an immature sharpshinned hawk land on the martin housing and immediately draw the wrath of the adults and from me. We have the last two nests with young that are ready to fledge, and I am guessing the hawk either sees the parents bringing food or hears the calls of the young martins. I am very grateful that I put cages around the two Trio houses and gourds a number of years ago. There should be no way the hawk can reach the young, but it has created great anxiety for the adults. When an adult brings food now, they barely stay for a moment while they pass the food item to a young one, and immediately fly off. Last night, I could hear a barred owl calling from one of the trees in our yard, so I was again glad the housing is well protected with cages. The martins sure have a lot of predators after them.
RC Moser
Posts: 1537
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2003 3:25 am

Sharpshinned reap Havoc over here also. I seen one catch at least 6 earlier in the spring. He would make fly through about or just before sundown which would stir the PM up and they would fly above the colony. Then at dusk or darkness they would try to come to roost that's when he attacked. I scared off several attempts but couldn't defend them all. I was amazed how hard he was to see after sun went down. All sudden he was there from nowhere. Last year for me.

Dick I sure enjoyed reading you posts and did come to Tulsa at the doubletree hotel to see the roost many years ago, but missed you. thanks for all the great information I learned from you over the years.
DornCounty
Posts: 2172
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:58 pm
Location: Rural SE Kansas
Martin Colony History: .
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Trio-Jedi

had a run at my colony today too.l
2017 - Home & Public Colonies - 300 Cavities
stan davison
Posts: 715
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2005 7:48 pm
Location: Tulsa Oklahoma

Dick, I think that hawk has been here several times. He only hits the decoys that I am aware of. The Barred owl has been here as well. I was on a trip and my neighbor texted me that an owl was on on of my trios. I told him to run it off so he jumped the fence with a flashlight the owl hasn't been back even though I watch for it before dark. I hope your season has been good! I ended up with 33 nests and an average fledge rate of 4 young. Some nests had six one fledged 7, and a couple nests had 2 young in them. 5 nests yet to fledge 3 of those nests are renest. I will start checking out the roost soon!! Oh and on a sad note I had one nest that faced west flooded and by the time I caught that the babies had deformed feathers and never could fly. My Yorkie killed them when hopping around the yard. :(
Dick Sherry
Posts: 774
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:30 pm
Location: Tulsa, OK

Thanks for the replies. RC, I hate to hear that this is your last year, but I can understand your frustration. Things have changed for martins so much over the last 15 years, and most of it has not been good with the growth in the predator populations. The various entrances that keep starlings out have been a huge plus for the martins.

Stan, it sounds like you have had a very successful season, and I am glad to hear that. I have heard barred owls calling late at night in the past week, but I don't think they have tried to get martins. My cages are far enough from the edge of the porches that an owl should not be able to reach into a compartment.

Yesterday, I got to see two young fledge from the next to last nest with young. The remaining young should fledge today or tomorrow. None were brought back to roost last evening, I am sure it has to do with the fear of the hawk. But there were numerous martins in the air high overhead at dusk that had to be going to a roost. I will start looking for it after our last young ones fledge.

I will probably not be working too much longer, so would like to figure out how I can assist martin landlords in better protecting their colonies from predators, and assist them with sparrow and starling control. I am really concerned with the decrease in active colonies in the Tulsa area, and wonder if it is the same all over their range. It is very different from the situation 30 to 40 years ago.
klcretired
Posts: 2174
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 3:06 am
Location: Grand Prairie,Tx

Hi Everyone,
I also have had my share of Hawk attacks this year
This is the very reason that I have up a lot of Decoys on both my Gourd Rack and LS Goliad PM Housing , The Decoys have saved a lot of Martin Lives for me this year , By hitting the Decoys the martins have a chance to Bolt to Freedom so I encourage every Martin Land Lord to Please Mount Decoys in and around your Gourd Racks / Housing your Martins will Thank you for it.
Pictures Taken with Canon Rebel XT Digital using a Sigma 50-500 Long Lens.

Wishing everyone a Great Martin Year
Happy Martining for 2020 to everyone,

K.C.

klcretired@tx.rr.com
Matt F.
Posts: 3896
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

I've seen those same, dusk, guerrilla tactics that RC mentioned.
The Cooper's Hawks have become increasingly common in this area as well, no doubt taking advantage of what was once, songbird-safe, residential backyards.
This, combined with house sparrow and starling competition, it's amazing that Martin numbers are still what they are.
I've said it once, and I'll say it again, I'm convinced the current Martin numbers listed by the big groups (USFWS, state DNRs, etc.) are way off. The eastern Martin numbers are way down. With the facts that we know (decreased available housing, house sparrow/starling competition, increasing numbers of aerial predators) there is no way they could NOT be way down.
I'm afraid what's going to happen (we're already seeing this in certain areas), are areas that once had moderate to low Martin concentrations, are going to see the Martins disappear completely, and, we're going to be left with a smaller numbers of Martin "zones". Instead of a nice, large, purple section covering the entire U.S. and Canada east of the Rockies, there are only going to be isolated, purple "blobs" here and there.
I keep hoping there are going to be developments in the genetic targeting of pest species like house sparrows and starlings, allowing for the development of more advanced, species specific avicides.
Starlicide is the only one that I know of. However, it was developed in the mid 60s, and is known to be toxic to other species as well.
DornCounty
Posts: 2172
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:58 pm
Location: Rural SE Kansas
Martin Colony History: .
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Trio-Jedi

Dick.. let me know when you think the Tulsa roost is nearing peak!

I want to come down again.
2017 - Home & Public Colonies - 300 Cavities
Dick Sherry
Posts: 774
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:30 pm
Location: Tulsa, OK

Matt, I hope things don't work out the way you have described, but they could. There are a lot less martin colonies in Tulsa than during the 1960's, 70's, 80's and 90's. It may well be that the successful colonies in the future are the ones that are best protected from predators and best managed by the host.

Dorn, I will let you know when the roost is nearing its peak. I need to confirm where they are this year, but I am guessing back near the hotel. The Tulsa Audubon Society will host two roost watch events this year, Aug. 9th and 23rd, both on Saturday evenings.
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.

Dick, The cages do indeed thwart many of the attacks, along with multiple decoys. But it is a lot of work to protect the martins from all these predators and a lot of people just aren't willing to go to the extra trouble....either due to the expense or the amount of work it requires.
I hope you are able to do some outreach when you retire. It has been very rewarding for me and I've even received multiple letters from a 16-year old who has put up 3, T-14s now and had 22 pair at last count. Another mentee finally got 2 pair this year, after trying for 2 years and my sister finally got 2 pair after 3 years trying. I currently mentor and communicate with 70+ mentees through my blog and email. I publish a lot of Missouri-specific information for them and while I don't hear from some of them very often, I am often surprised to hear that they've been reading everything I send them with much enthusiasm.
They like the personal, specific attention that is only relevant to *their* needs and area and don't really want to belong to nationwide forums such as this one or others.
Anyway, I'm rambling - I would love to come this year, but with multiple business trips to Germany and other parts of the country, and dealing with my owl, etc., I'm not going to be able to make it. Hope the rest of your year is productive and uneventful!
Kathy
"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
Dick Sherry
Posts: 774
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:30 pm
Location: Tulsa, OK

Hi, Kathy. It is good to hear from you. It sounds like you are helping a lot of people become martin hosts, or be better landlords, if they already have a colony. I hope I can provide more assistance in the future, and would be willing to help people put cages around their housing to keep the hawks and owls from making successful raids on martin housing.

We are down to our last nest and it should have fledged the three young by now. The parents are not bringing food regularly the way the other pairs have, which makes me concerned about their level of nutrition received and their readiness to fledge. Sometimes we know too much about these situations, and it is hard to not try to intervene.

Hope you can come see the roost again one of these summers. Sounds like you are very busy for the present.

Take care
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