Tough Season

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roymg1
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:41 pm
Location: Covington La

Tough Season

Postby roymg1 » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:51 am

This has been the worst year for my colony since I've been putting up a house for them. Started out with hawks back in the spring when Martins arrived. A Red Wing (Tail) hawk hung around, as he has every year, until early summer, then what I call a Sparrow Hawk took up the task the rest of the season along with two Kite hawks. They were constantly harassing these Martins. I lost three jumpers, that died, and found one pile of feathers on the ground. All others have finally fledge and I'm not sure how many the hawks were able to snare in flight, as there were a lot of chases.

After fledging of the young usually all of the birds would come back for happy time, until mid July,at the house or on a light pole on the next block. Not this year. Haven't seen any since about a week ago when the last of the young ones fledged.

I'm glad this season is over.

Spiderman
Posts: 737
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:19 am
Location: Gladewater, Texas

Re: Tough Season

Postby Spiderman » Tue Jun 25, 2019 8:21 am

I'm Sorry this season has been so hard on you and your Martins. We are usually plagued by Hawks but this year they have hunted elsewhere for some reason.

Usually in my experience red tail Hawks aren't much of a problem when it comes to Martins. The Martins will sound the warning and fly but the red tail is usually after squirrels, rabbits or mice. If he nests near by he will defend his territory and keep smaller Hawks away.

That said every year for me Cooper's and Sharp Shin Hawks are an increasing problem. Since DDT was outlawed the predator bird species numbers have bounced back and are thriving.

Their is also a smaller Falcon species called a Merlin. He is fast and accurate and rarely comes through our yard without catching some kind of bird on his way thru.
2008 - 33 PAIR - FLEDGED 96 YOUNG
2009 - 51 PAIR - FLEDGED 166 YOUNG
2010 - 45 PAIR - FLEDGED 146 YOUNG
2011 - 33 PAIR - 128 HATCHED, 97 FLEDGED
2012 - 37 PAIR - 119 HATCHED, 101 FLEDGED

Black Jack
Posts: 38
Joined: Mon May 06, 2019 4:37 pm
Location: NC

Re: Tough Season

Postby Black Jack » Tue Jun 25, 2019 9:34 am

You might want to set up a yard feeder for songbirds. Let them be the cannon fodder. Unless you have a lot of sparrows. A red shoulder hawk or red tail will not bother martins. I have seen martins beat up on them. Cooper hawks and sharp shinned will usually take the easiest prey sick or dumb like doves. They do love quail thou. :mrgreen:

Spiderman
Posts: 737
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:19 am
Location: Gladewater, Texas

Re: Tough Season

Postby Spiderman » Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:27 pm

That's actually a good idea.

We put out sunflower seeds in our feeders. As much as I dislike blue jays they have saved many of our Martins by sounding the alarm cry and allowing the Martins to get airborne in time.
2008 - 33 PAIR - FLEDGED 96 YOUNG
2009 - 51 PAIR - FLEDGED 166 YOUNG
2010 - 45 PAIR - FLEDGED 146 YOUNG
2011 - 33 PAIR - 128 HATCHED, 97 FLEDGED
2012 - 37 PAIR - 119 HATCHED, 101 FLEDGED

MorganW_AL
Posts: 44
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:21 am
Location: Alabama

Re: Tough Season

Postby MorganW_AL » Tue Jun 25, 2019 8:38 pm

I have battled a hawk or two all season as well. I haven't witnessed one take a martin, but they try a time or two every day. I have had hawk issues for the past 4 or 5 years, and I will say that the martins seem to get better and better at fending them off with each season.
I agree that an abundance of other birds is a must for helping sound the alarm. Encourage swallows and bluebirds; they are some of the most watchful. Never shew away a dove; they are slow, clumsy, and make for easy prey. And this year has made me an even bigger believer in decoys. I have had more decoy strikes than I can count, and I know that every time a decoy is hit that the martins were most likely spared. Now, if I can just get them to not flip out and attack the decoys every time I move them....lol.

MorganW_AL
Posts: 44
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:21 am
Location: Alabama

Re: Tough Season

Postby MorganW_AL » Thu Jun 27, 2019 4:13 pm

The birds and I just fended off another hawk attack, me with my air horn....them with their dive bombing and alarm sounding. He or she left empty-taloned.
I'm fairly certain this particular hawk has a nest around a half mile or so the the west of me in a tree line. Every time it has made its retreat, it has circled back to that general area. Still, I haven't witnessed a successful attack on the martins. A couple of doves have not been so fortunate.

mjfog
Posts: 205
Joined: Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:40 pm
Location: Palm City, FL
Martin Colony History: 2018 will be my first try. 6 S&K B09s. 29 eggs - 8 fledged
2019 - 12 Troyer Horizontals with tunnels, 6 S&K B09s and 12 B011s all with tunnels. 43 eggs - 36 fledged

Re: Tough Season

Postby mjfog » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:45 pm

Thanks to martin lovers, like all of us, we erect our colonies to preserve, observe and increase this wonderful species. Nevertheless martins are a species that is no more wonderful than hawks, owls and falcons.

Our martin colonies greatly assist martin productivity because the number of natural cavities don't exist like they once did. Modern forestry practices do not allow standing "old trees with holes." But our colonies concentrate a prey species like martins and this concentration is noticed by predators. So folks, we must expect witnessing the occasional personal disappointment to our enterprise.

To actually observe a merlin taking a Purple Martin on the wing should illicit a "WOW" rather than prompting a colony owner to run for the shotgun. Please observe this mantra, "All wildlife gotta eat." Be kind to all species. Our colonies are never going to be 100% successful, hawks and owls will get a few, but appreciate the overreaching "good" we doing for the Purple Martin.

Happy Martining, Mike, retired wildlife biologist, Florida Wildlife and Fisheries Commission

Andrew Smith
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:11 am
Location: Burford, Ontario, Canada
Martin Colony History: 2019 - Hundreds of fly-bys August and September. Half a dozen birds landed on house.

Re: Tough Season

Postby Andrew Smith » Fri Jun 28, 2019 7:51 am

Well put. It's the circle of life. I try to convince my wife every time we loose some goldfish to herons or king fishers. Like you said...everything has to eat to survive.

roymg1
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:41 pm
Location: Covington La

Re: Tough Season

Postby roymg1 » Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:50 pm

This has been the worst year for my colony since I've been putting up a house for them. Started out with hawks back in the spring when Martins arrived. A Red Wing (Tail) hawk hung around, as he has every year, until early summer, then what I call a Sparrow Hawk took up the task the rest of the season along with two Kite hawks. They were constantly harassing these Martins. I lost three jumpers, that died, and found one pile of feathers on the ground. All others have finally fledge and I'm not sure how many the hawks were able to snare in flight, as there were a lot of chases.

After fledging of the young usually all of the birds would come back for happy time, until mid July, at the house or on a light pole on the next block. Not this year. Haven't seen any since about a week ago when the last of the young ones fledged.

I'm glad this season is over.

Well heck, just after I posted, the very next day I get a flyby by 6 birds and so far every day now during the mornings. The house is lower and closed so they don't land. Feel much better now that some are still around.

MorganW_AL
Posts: 44
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:21 am
Location: Alabama

Re: Tough Season

Postby MorganW_AL » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:35 pm

That's great to hear! They will remember your spot and see you next year, hopefully. If we all had the same perseverance those suckers had, we'd all have it made.


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