Owl Predation

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daveh
Posts: 629
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:40 am
Location: Kingsville Mo.

Owl Predation

Postby daveh » Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:32 am

It has been a long stressful seventeenth season, maybe my last. The barred owl predation has been bad. I've counted at least 25 piles of feathers below the colony. I wonder how many were defeathered somewhere else? I had caged everything up about nine years ago. It seemed to work well for awhile but the last three or four years the owls have learned to hang on the wire, flap there wings and shake the houses and gourds so much it freaks out the birds and they try to escape. The owls grab them as they come out. If they would stay put the owl would not be able to reach them but that's not the case.

I host 60-70 pair every year, fledging 240-300 babies. The chicks that come back with the parents at night after fledging are the ones I think get eaten the most. They freak out and try to escape. They're lousy flyers and also have a hard time getting through the wire which gives the owl the advantage. They are also learning the starling resistant holes and can be rather slow getting out or in which gives the owl time to grab.

I really don't know if I want to do another season like this one. Really, the last three or four years have been bad. I think Mother Nature has got me beat.

There's been a lot of articles over the years in The Update and here on the forum of people caging up their houses and gourds to stop predation. I would be curious to know if any are still around andif the cages are working well today. Thanks

Dave
PMCA member

Hanover Bill
Posts: 583
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 3:10 pm
Location: Pennsylvania/Hanover Township
Martin Colony History: 2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72

Re: Owl Predation

Postby Hanover Bill » Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:15 am

Hi Dave;

Nature indeed can fully test our resilience. I know mine has been tested quite a few times as a Purple Martin Landlord. Just last night I heard a GHO hooting away in my back lot. Fortunately all of my Martins have fledged, but it sure gives me something to worry about for next season. I don't think the owls have honed in on my Martin housing as a food source as of yet, but who knows what next year will bring.

I hope you hang in there, we need all of the good landlords we can get.

Hanover Bill.
2009 & 10 - 0
2011 & 12 - Visitors
2013 - 2 pr. fledged 9
2014 - 3 pr. fledged 13
2015 - 7 pr. fledged 27
2016 - 15 pr. fledged 72

Wildriver
Posts: 31
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2016 2:48 pm
Location: Luck Wisconsin
Martin Colony History: Landlord of colony started in 1940 by grandfather. Completely lost colony due to houses that did not provide protection from owls.
New T-14 houses installed. 100% full with no nest abandonment due to owl guards, predator lights and decoys.
Starting new colonies in Minneapolis with new T-14 houses. Planning on community martin houses in park system. Re-claimed wetlands next to city lakes would be excellent site. Currently their are No colonies in Minneapolis, MN. Hoping to have same success as I had in Western Wisconsin

Re: Owl Predation

Postby Wildriver » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:04 am

Dave,
I had issue with my site like you are having. I lost all my martins until I started using the T-14 with owl bars. I had houses that I caged, but it did not stop the GHO from coming every night. They would crash my houses and do the grab. Good luck crashing a T-14. Ouch !!
I have also noticed less owls in my area due to the increase in Bald Eagles. I know it sounds strange, but the eagles and the martins seem to do well together. The martins can out fly them and the eagles are more interested in fish and other food. Please do not give up. We all have setbacks. I now offer three T-14s and are having my best year ever.

Emil Pampell-Tx
Posts: 6727
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

Re: Owl Predation

Postby Emil Pampell-Tx » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:25 am

I have had problems with the Barred Owl for many years, so here are some things that help:

1) Attach gourds so that they do not swing
2) I attach tunnels so that the martins do not see the owl. I use tunnels mounted to one side, and tunnels with a 45deg or 90deg turn.
3) If you can break the cycle on the owl that uses its wings to scare the martins, then new owls will usually leave the martins alone if they cannot catch any, they will not use their wings if they are new
4) I have a GHO nearby, it actually catches and eats some of the barred owls, but it has not bothered the martins (YET...hope.....)

Sorry to see this happen to you. but keep in mind that you are still a great landlord that is actually helping many martins. I would hate to see you quit...
PMCA Member, 250 gourds, 6 poles, 2traps

vman
Posts: 50
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:42 pm
Location: wisconsin
Martin Colony History: have not had martins for last 20 yrs. trying to re establish a colony
2018 1 asy pair fledged 2

Re: Owl Predation

Postby vman » Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:31 am

Are you sure it is an owl? feathers under the house sound more like a raccoon, do you have a good gaurd on your pole ?good luck.
jim
Jim

gray fox
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:13 am
Location: Tyrone, PA

Re: Owl Predation

Postby gray fox » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:20 am

A great horned owl probably couldn't reach back far enough to pull martins out of the nest . The owl could shake house or gourd all he wants he isn't going to get martins if they would stay put. Simple to us unfortunately not martins. I question if a Martin can't see out of gourd or even stationary gourd he will decide to stay put. I h ave tapped my pole up high and a Martin came out . I am at 11 pair of martins. I can hold 28 pair eventually. More mantins more noise as my wife would say. They don't know to shut up. The great horned owl is up on the mountain saying lets good down and visit Johnny some day. I see rabbit fur and other bird feather in yard sometimes. I could shoot them in the future nobody would know. No people are.Im going to try to avoid that. They have there place in nature just like rattlesnakes. The only good snake is a live snake.Good day

Spiderman
Posts: 693
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:19 am
Location: Gladewater, Texas

Re: Owl Predation

Postby Spiderman » Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:09 pm

Are you sure it is an owl? feathers under the house sound more like a raccoon, do you have a good gaurd on your pole ?good luck.
jim
From my experience a raccoon will pull the wings off & drop them to the ground directly under the housing. Piles of feathers is usually an owl.

I have Troyer Horizontal Gourds with tunnels and have not had but a few Martins lost to owls. I have a small but very bright rayovac flashlight and will shine the Gourd racks if I get up during the night to see if there is a problem.

I hope you can get past it and continue to have a Colony. To have that many Martins is really an accomplishment to be proud of!
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

daveh
Posts: 629
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:40 am
Location: Kingsville Mo.

Re: Owl Predation

Postby daveh » Sat Aug 10, 2019 6:25 pm

Yes, they are barred owls, a male and a female. I have flood lights in my back yard that I turn on every night and I have motion detected lights on top of my poles. Never seen anything but owls. They attack between 9:30 pm to 5:00 am about every night.

You are right Gray Fox, if they would just stay put they would be safe, but they don't.

My season is over. I have around 6 m0nths to figure out what to do for next season or retire.

Thankyou all for the feedback.

Dave
PMCA member

Don & Danielle
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2003 6:55 pm
Location: Dardenne Prairie, MO (suburb of St. Louis)

Re: Owl Predation

Postby Don & Danielle » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:32 am

Dave...

I have not suffered much owl predation, but I do know that it is difficult to protect the martins from owls & hawks. I personally have more hawk issues, but did have an owl a few years back. Thankfully, he didn't come back.

One possible solution for owls (other than the racks you are trying) - I've seen advertisements for a "Dancing Scare Crow" that you can activate at night. It looks like a smaller version of one of those fan-powered advertisements you may see at car dealerships. I don't know how effective it is, or how large of an area it may protect. But you may want to look into it.

I've seen something like this in the Troyer catalog.

Best Wishes!

Don

John Miller
Posts: 4739
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Owl Predation

Postby John Miller » Fri Aug 16, 2019 7:37 pm

Dave

Kathy Freeze of Licking MO just had a long article about her owl problems published in PM Update. She found nothing worked except a substantial cage around a gourd rack, closed top and bottom and held out from the gourds, I think she said 12 inches or so. Please get a copy if you have not already. She nearly gave up on martins, but finally got the owl under control. If you have to, reduce the amount of housing and just have one gourd rack done this way, maybe. I know she also would advise you on details of the framework holding up the fencing. She found it most feasible on a rack of gourds, and not her metal housing.

Now I know she was bothered by a GHO and you are having barred. I recall Steve Kroenke saying the latter is more parrot like and will hang upside down sometimes on housing, but I'm hopeful what worked in southern Missouri will work in NW Missouri.

John M

daveh
Posts: 629
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:40 am
Location: Kingsville Mo.

Re: Owl Predation

Postby daveh » Sun Aug 18, 2019 2:51 pm

Thankyou all for the feedback. All my seven houses have 2x4 inch wire that is about 4-7 inches away from the front of the porches except the T14. I wrapped the wire around the T14 owl guards so that is only a couple inches off the porches. I've seen owls fly head on and crash into the doors and grab birds as they come out. Kinda scary and crazy. I now know that I need to make my house cages larger to that 12-13 inches between wire and porch, thanks Kathy. That extra weight on my poles, I don't like.

All my gourds are under my seven houses and somewhat protected by the houses above. They all have prongs in front of the gourds except the castle and minicastle. They have the 2x4 inch wire that covers the houses and gourds. I've only seen owls hanging on the wire , never hanging on the prongs. Maybe it's to hard to get a grip on the gourd porch with the prongs in front. Also, my gourds swing, either front to back or side to side. What do you people thing about prongs? And like I said before, the gourds are tucked under the houses that have wire wrapped around them.

Dave
PMCA member

KathyF
Posts: 3499
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.

Re: Owl Predation

Postby KathyF » Mon Aug 19, 2019 7:17 am

Thank you, John for sharing the information about my article with dave.

I'm so sorry you're having this problem Dave. It is the MOST difficult problem a landlord can have.

Dave, it was indeed a slaughter on my Trendsetter - just like it sounds like it is on your metal housing. I had the same issue / concerns with weight of the cages on my smaller 2" poles. That's why I switched to all 3" Super system gourd racks. That also allowed me to turn the end gourds inward, so none of my gourd entrances are even near the edge of the cages. I know it's expensive, but you could do as John mentioned and just put up one gourd rack to begin with. I modified the 24 gourd rack to make it 28. I hope you can check out my article and maybe get some ideas from that.
"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

daveh
Posts: 629
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:40 am
Location: Kingsville Mo.

Re: Owl Predation

Postby daveh » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:36 am

I guess I'm going to try to make my cages larger around my houses. I'm hoping to have around 12inches of space between porch and fence. I'm thinking about using goat and sheep welded wire which is a 4x4 inch mesh to try and keep the weight to a minimum. I've only used 2x4 inch wire. Has anybody used it? Does it hold a shape? I would think owls couldn't get thru it plus young martins would have an easier passage thru it. What do you think?

Dave
PMCA member

Black Jack
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon May 06, 2019 4:37 pm
Location: NC

Re: Owl Predation

Postby Black Jack » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:08 pm

Are you sure it is an owl? feathers under the house sound more like a raccoon, do you have a good gaurd on your pole ?good luck.
jim
Yep, that sounds exactly what it is. Ask me I know from 20 yrs ago being a first time land lord without predator protection. :mrgreen: Never again.

flyin-lowe
Posts: 2630
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Re: Owl Predation

Postby flyin-lowe » Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:51 am

I can't find the link at this moment but there used to be a picture on the home page of an owl with it's leg extended into a cavity to show just how far it can reach, it is further then a lot of people think....
2019- Currently 31 complete nests (27 with eggs or babies) 94 babies hatched and 19 eggs still to hatch) 6-22-19
2018- 15 pair last count 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional SY's stayed all summer but never paired/nested.
2016 1 pair fledged 4
2015 Visitors
2014 Visitors
2013 Moved 6 miles away, 1 pair fledged 2.
2012 30 pair fledged 100.
2011 12 pair (11 that nested), 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair, 21 eggs, 16 hatched, 14 fledged.

daveh
Posts: 629
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:40 am
Location: Kingsville Mo.

Re: Owl Predation

Postby daveh » Thu Aug 22, 2019 12:29 pm

I never saw my owls reach into the openings and grab birds. The seven or eight inches between the porches and wire was ok for that. My owls would hang on the wire flapping their wings and making a commotion causing martins to freak out and try to escape. That's when the owls would grab. My new cages hopefully will be at least 12 inches from the front of the porches. I'm not sure that's enough distance but I'll try. Probably 15 to 20 inches would be better but now I'm adding a whole lot of extra weight and nest checks will be more difficult.

Dave
PMCA member

KathyF
Posts: 3499
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.

Re: Owl Predation

Postby KathyF » Fri Aug 23, 2019 12:00 pm

I never saw my owls reach into the openings and grab birds. The seven or eight inches between the porches and wire was ok for that. My owls would hang on the wire flapping their wings and making a commotion causing martins to freak out and try to escape. That's when the owls would grab. My new cages hopefully will be at least 12 inches from the front of the porches. I'm not sure that's enough distance but I'll try. Probably 15 to 20 inches would be better but now I'm adding a whole lot of extra weight and nest checks will be more difficult.

Dave


I did - even got video of it: https://youtu.be/CjAHqA13-qA
"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

colliemom
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2016 10:13 am
Location: Sandwich IL

Re: Owl Predation

Postby colliemom » Fri Aug 23, 2019 2:44 pm

I have used night guard solar lights for many years. This year I didn't get them up early and I had a GHO. Hadn't had an owl for
years while using lights. We used pieces of aluminum to attach 4 lights (4 sides aluminum sheets about 3-4 inches square to
hold lights. They set about 2-3 feet above the gourds on a rack or houses. I put this on each rack or house unit. With the
four lights on 4 sides of this unit, the lights flash intermittently all night long. I put these back on my racks after having the
GHO earlier this year and haven't seen an owl since. Hope it works for you.


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