Numerous hawk attacks

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birdy girl
Posts: 1179
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

We are experiencing numerous cooper hawk attacks daily. By numerous I am talking about every 30 to 40 minutes daily and these are 90% successful attacks. I can time the upcoming attacks by our clock. I am heart broken, upset, miserable and angry. The parents/adult birds are so loud during these attacks that it is causing some babies to jump prematurely from their cavities. I am ready for every Martin here to leave and go south. We will be lucky if we have 10% babies that survive this year. I am serious when I make that statement. Cages will not help because they are getting them from tree tops, or as the leave the trees, the power lines or if they jump from gourds during the attack. Unsure if the hawk young are feeding also along with parents or if other Cooper's are coming from nearby area to feed along with the pair that is obviously raised or raising their young nearby. I feel so bad for these Martin parents and their young. The hawks are also will flip in air and grab a Martin behind him or above him ( which is probably an adult because he would be chasing a juvenile Martin). Sorry to be bearing my emotions and soul to you all here. Just don't think I can go through this or want to go through this another summer. I know many will say"just let it go or this is just nature". Yes it is just nature but I am not cut out for watching my martins be tortured and killed by crazy %#*^ hawks! Not asking for sympathy just wanting to vent I guess. If hawk preditation could cause martins to not come back the next year, ours would have been convinced to look for a new place to raise their young a long time ago. I believe this year is the worst I have ever seen hawk preditation here. I so hope other colonies are not being attacked as much as we are seeing here. I know many of you are experiencing these attacks (especially larger colonies). God bless you and your martins! Good luck to all of you with the remaining Martin season. Ready for our Martin 2015 season to end!!
Emil Pampell-Tx
Posts: 6743
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 1:26 pm
Location: Tx, Richmond (SW of Houston)
Martin Colony History: First started in Gretna, La in 1969 with a small homemade house, have had martins ever since at 2 different homes in Texas

So sorry to hear that, and I have had such a problem before.

The only thing that can be done is to remove nearby trees. If the trees are too close, the martins have zero chance against the Coopers. If you have a wide open area, the martins can see the hawk much sooner.

I too have too many nearby trees, but most of them are on the neighbors property. The neighbors love their trees, and they would not cut down any for sure. I have one pecan tree that is much too close, but the wife does not want me to cut it down. I may move the poles to a more open area.
PMCA Member, 250 gourds, 6 poles, 2traps
Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4342
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Hey Birdy Girl,

Same here, but probably not as severe. Resident Cooper's hawks are catching numerous fledgling martins daily and ALL the attacks are hundreds of yards AWAY from our colonies. The hawks are catching the fledglings perched in the tops of trees and on power lines.

The hawks are not at this point coming into our colonies and stay away as long as I am out in the yard. So there is NOTHING I can do to try to prevent the hawks from attacking martin fledglings hundreds of yards in the distance.

The poor parents pick up the hawk coming and they emit blood curdling screams of terror. But there is almost NO escape for the fledglings. The adult martins risk their lives by mobbing closely to the hawk's back and just like you I have seen these hawk flare up and try to grab the martins.

You are correct. A wire cage will do NOTHING to stop most Accipiter hawk attacks at our colonies as these hawks primarily catch martins in flight.

At one of our satellite colonies, Cooper's hawks are decimating the martin fledglings and probably even the adults. We visited the colony today and the poor martins were screaming and circling overhead. Some would try to dive down to feed their babies in the houses and often they would drop the food as they would bolt and climb high up.

So you are NOT alone with your Cooper's hawk problems and probably many martin colonies that have babies fledging are experiencing the same thing.

Steve
PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season
Brad
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon May 18, 2015 10:12 am
Location: Duck Lake SK

Very sad to hear. A bit of advice that I have learned is to promote swallow nesting (barn swallows in particular). We have 5 barn swallow nests in our yard. We also have occupied tree swallow boxes. Barn Swallows are very fast flyers and see hawks immediately, and will sound alarms congregating both martins, tree swallows, and barn swallows. They team up and chase hawks out of sight. I find that martins size makes them a bit more clumsy of a flyer compared to swallows. So it is very good to encourage swallows.

Brad,
birdy girl
Posts: 1179
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

Brad
We had 2 barn swallow nests that the babies have fledged and now both sets of parents are sitting on second set of eggs. The baronies are a big help in spotting the hawks. We also have a pair of eastern kingbirds which also help. Also have several BB pairs. These Hawks are determined to catch their meals from our Martin colony. The helpless newly fledged babies just sit and do nothing most of the time when the Hawks are coming to the colony. The Hawks are coming into our colony usually if the spot one sitting somewhere like perches on top of rack, light poles, tree tops, tree tops. They fly around the colony good way away from the colony lots of times. I did see a young Martin escape little while ago. One of the few that do escape.

Emil
My sister loves her trees and they would have a fit if I had them cut down. Plus we have about 65 acres of pine trees on left side of our colony probably about 170 to 240 feet away from colony. They have been thinned for pulp wood and cut timber a few times but not ready to be thinned for 3 more years. But next time I will have them clear back 50 to 70 feet away from the colony. That is if I can make myself put gourds up a next time. Right now I am determined this is the last year to feed hawks young martins. We have cut all trees except 2, one in front yard and one in back yard. I honestly don't think it would change much at all if we cut them.

I am finding a few martins with low weight for their age.

A resident owl has probably caught some of our adults. He will sit near flyway and catch martins as they leave early in mornings. We try to get up at 4:15 each morning and scare him off if he is out there. Sometimes he sits at pond watching for his food. Too many predators here to enjoy a Martin colony.

Thanks for listening everyone.
Last edited by birdy girl on Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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.

I'm sorry you are having to go through that.
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
birdy girl
Posts: 1179
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

Steve,
So sorry about the Hawks attacking and taking your fledglings. I know you understand what I am going through.

Deb
Thank you Deb. It is so hard and I just hate what the martins and I am having to go through. Wish they had an easier life.
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.

As I grow things in the future this makes me wonder if having a super colony with more attraction to these types of predators is for me. Maybe my 32 cavities sneaks under the radar a bit. I don't know, but something I need to consider for sure.
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
Gary W
Posts: 431
Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 7:29 am
Location: Florida/Pinellas Park

Hi Birdy Girl,

If you install 4X4 inch fencing around your compartments, it will greatly reduce successful hawk attacks. My fencing is placed 9 to 12 inches in front of each hole. It is much harder for hawks to make a kill of an adult Martin in full flight. They seem to make a lot of their attacks on Martins while they are on the housing. SREH's sometimes hinder Martins from entering a hole quickly, and that can be a deadly situation if there is a hawk watching nearby.

Gary
KathyF
Posts: 3519
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.

We try to get up at 4:15 each morning and scare him off if he is out there. Sometimes he sits at pond watching for his food.
I can tell you from my experiences with my GHO - they don't just come after 4 AM - they can be around all night, terrorizing and raiding your colony. If you're aware that a GHO is nearby and he's aware of your colony, I would bet that he is hitting your colony at night too.

Sounds like it would definitely help to clear back some of the trees. Maybe reduce the number of cavities too? Sorry for the constant attacks - that has to be hard to watch. :cry:
"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
John Miller
Posts: 4774
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

I just witnessed a Cooper's Hawk attack on the martin adults at the "restaurant" colony I manage in St. Louis city. Not sure if it was successful because I was driving off the parking lot out into traffic; but the martins were screaming. There could not be a more urban site, so this lends weight to these hawks becoming more adapted to urban areas, or to martin housing. As this housing..now I'm about to vent...is about to need to be moved for a highway relocation, maybe it's time to shut it down after this season. I'm pretty stretched as is, but I'm going to look at moving options this fall and talk with the owner, keeping the hawks in mind.
birdy girl
Posts: 1179
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

Kathy
Yes the owl is around every night, all night. He sits at different areas. Thursday evening late, while running off fledglings wanting to sit on racks for the night, I noticed a porch partially broken off a gourd porch. Tonight noticed another gourd with broken porch. Nothing I can do because we have weird work schedules and work long hours and some opposite schedules. My colony is being devastated by Hawks and owls. Probably many young are perishing from lack of food due to only one parent feeding, hot scorching temps and decrease in insects. This is worst it has every been here with preditation.

Gary
Occasionally a hawk may take a baby from a porch but most of our martins and fledglings are caught in the air while flying. I do not think wire cages will help with hawk preditation. It might help protect them from owls. But also the Owls will take them on the fly here also. We really don't have a way to get the cages on top of the racks because we would want to lower racks for nest checks. We cannot get the poles off the grounds stakes, guess because we haven't ever removed them since they were put up probably 11 or 12 years ago.

Really don't know what we are going to do. We may just have to accept that what used to be a wonderful hobby that we loved has come to an end after this year. I just know this causing me emotional distress. I love these birds to much to watch them be drawn here just to be eaten every year. We work long hours and cannot be here a lot to try to intercept attacks. Feeling very discouraged and heartbroken for these birds.
KathyF
Posts: 3519
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 - maybe you are right then. If you're not able to protect them, you should probably either reduce your colony size or totally give this hobby up.

I'm going outside to enjoy my martins this weekend....we have been owl-free for 5 nights now and they are very active and actively feeding. It's such a breath of fresh air and a nice break. I will keep up the fight.
Good luck!
"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: 3519
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.

My racks aren't the prettiest, and I get scratched and hung up during nest checks. It's extremely annoying when it's 90+ degrees and 90% humidity outside and the mites are crawling. But I don't complain because protecting my martins is my number one priority. And my scratches, etc. are minor compared to what could happen to them every night. My reward is this - every evening and the numbers of martins in the air are increasing daily. It is enough to make your eyes leaky when you know what they go through every day to survive ...then add to that a persistent owl.
We have been owl-free for 5 nights...we're not out of the woods, but every night, I count as a success. One day at a time...more babies are in the air, and I have to carry more kleenex when I go out in the yard with them..... and Deet spray. Must keep the chiggers away....

Image
"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
eyeamtheman
Posts: 633
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 3:21 pm
Location: Quitman, La
Martin Colony History: Super colony

Birdy Girl. send me an email.
Eyeamtheman159@hotmail.com
Last edited by eyeamtheman on Mon Jun 29, 2015 5:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
Johnny
Davlyn
Posts: 624
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2004 8:55 pm
Location: Ga/Pavo

Hey Birdy girl , sorry to hear about your Hawk problem , I also have had a cooper coming around daily trying to get recent fledglings , I have not seen him catch any but I 'm sure that he is away from my colony . I try and stay out in the colony area as much as I can while the martin's are fledgling their young if I am out there and watching for him he will not come through my yard BUT if I am out there working in my yard or not paying attention then he will make a run for it ! I know that sounds crazy but I do believe this hawk knows if I am watching for him or not . I also had a sharpie early spring passing through he was here about 2 weeks and he took a few of my martins with him , I thought he was a cooper but now I have changed my mind he would zip through here no matter if you were watching for him or not he was soooo quick he could grab a martin off the rack before he knew what hit him ! I will be ready for him next year , that's when I will put decoys all over the place and move them daily and spend as much time out there while he is passing through as I can !!! Hope your season gets better or ends soon .
April McClelland


PMCA Member
M.Stephens
Posts: 1130
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:14 pm
Location: Texas/Texarkana

I personally hate fledging time because of hawks! They terrorize my colony so much that young will not get fed that are in the nests. All a hawk has to do is fly by and the whole colony....what's left.....takes off after it and stays up in the air for 30 to 45 minutes before returning to the colony site. I'm sure there are and will be several that I will find perished after the season.

I still have my 6 owl decoys set up at different hawk attack routes and they seem to be stopping any low fly in attacks but I'm certain the hawks are getting martin fledglings away from the colony site.
Malcolm
2015 (110 nesting pair)
2014 (92 nesting pair)
2013 (75 nesting pair)
2012 (35 nesting pair)
2011 (20 pair)
____________
PMCA Member
James Rieman
Posts: 158
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:57 am
Location: Houston/Texas

Don't give up on your martins or the size of the colony. There is safety in numbers, the more birds you have the more eyes there are to look out. All North American songbirds (and other types of birds too) have to deal with Accipiter predation and always have, they still go on. Trust me I know how you feel. My neighbors have a Coopers Hawk nest that produces several young every year in their pine tree. The Coopers Hawks are a constant presence around my colony. I was hit hard early this season as adults were returning and there was a lot of commotion around my colony. I watched how the hawk was approaching and cut some branches that hid its approach so the martins could see him as he came in. This helped a bit but still the Cooper's Hawks came for more. I then placed a bird feeder between my martin colony and the main tree the hawk was launching his attacks from, per Kathy Freeze's suggestion. This helped too as it provided more eyes to see the hawk and warn the martins, plus I didn't mind if the Coopers Hawks grabbed some of the White-winged Dove that hog up the seed instead of grabbing the martins. That helped too. I also noticed the different approaches the hawks would take (they would repeat them a lot) and I placed obstacles in their path as the hawks usually started up high in a tree, swooped down rapidly to gain speed, then come in low and grabbed the martins very close to the ground as they did their dive flight as they fled from the housing. The obstacle course in the hawk's flight path made them have to slow down in their approach and decreased their success rate. You can also put up decoys on your housing and on the obstacles to fake out the hawk. None of these methods are fool proof and won't protect the martins 100% of the time but will help. I have lost a lot of martins to these Cooper's Hawks this year and previous years yet my colony continues to grow and produce many successful martin fledglings. In the evenings there are still many parents and fledglings returing to my housing. The Copper's hawks are weeding out the slow, weak and inattentive martins. This is how evolution works. Purple Martins aren't domestic animals we can completely cage and protect from predators. You will lose some, that is part of being a martin landlord. It isn't easy to watch sometimes, but Accipiters are a fact of life for martins. To maintain a stable population a pair of martins only has to produce 2 young that make it to maturity over their entire lifetime, and naturally many young will be lost. Life goes on for the martins and they persevere and maintain their numbers. As Louise Chambers once said, "there are ups and downs with martins," you have to accept these ups and downs and try to mitigate the losses but they are inevitable. Look at all Kathy Freeze has done to protect her colony from the Great-horned Owl.

I try to view it as if I have a combination Purple Martin/Cooper's Hawk colony. My colony is down to its last nests of the year that will fledge soon and the martins will be gone shortly. The Cooper's Hawk's fledglings are becoming more independent and they like to hang around my yard and neighborhood in general. They sit on fences and are curious and a bit friendly, so I get to enjoy watching them. They aren't bad, just Cooper's Hawks being Cooper's Hawks. It would be wrong to do something rash and try to remove the Cooper's Hawks. There is a balance in life and they and the martins are part of it. Try some of my suggestions, try to consider yourself lucky to be able to witness the drama of wild bird life and continue to enjoy your martins!

Andy Troyer told me in a phone conversation years ago that the Cooper's hawks typically won't wipe out a colony (unlike owls or snakes) and I don't think I have heard of that happening. The Cooper's Hawks won't prevent birds from returning next year. Good luck with the rest of your season, I hope some of this helps!
James Rieman
Houston Texas
PMCA member
2011 - 3 SY pair
2012 - 7 pair
2013 - 10 pair
2014 - 12 pair
2015 - 16 pair
2016 - 17 pair
M.Stephens
Posts: 1130
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:14 pm
Location: Texas/Texarkana

Thanks James for your insight........ as fledging goes on Cooper's are going to be a part of it. Just a fact.

The martins will return next year as always and it will again be a new fresh start.
Malcolm
2015 (110 nesting pair)
2014 (92 nesting pair)
2013 (75 nesting pair)
2012 (35 nesting pair)
2011 (20 pair)
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PMCA Member
pmartinlover2
Posts: 521
Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2014 6:37 pm
Location: IL/Hillsboro
Martin Colony History: 2011 Home site--1 SY pair--2 fledged
2016 Satellite Site---4 pair--19 eggs laid--17 hatched--16 fledged
2017 Satellite Site--8 pair--37 eggs laid--34 hatched--34 fledged
2018 11 pair--fledged 60
2019 20 pair-fledged 94
2020 23pair-fledged 108

I enjoyed reading your comments Mr. Rieman. I believe we can provide the martins with a place to live and try to protect them from predators, but they are wild creatures and live by their own instincts as do the Hawks, owls, and snakes. We can't control their lives nor should we. JMO
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Jody
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