Red Tail Hawk Question ??

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Hanover Bill
Posts: 603
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

How concerned should I be over the occasional visit of a huge Red Tail Hawk? He perches on top of my T-14 pole searching for prey on the ground in the big field behind my housing. He shows little or no interest in my Martins, and they show little or no interest in him. Nothing like the response from the Martins when a Sharp Shinned or Coopers shows up. They obviously recognize that threat immediately, and take appropriate action.

Of course I chase the Red Tail away when I see him as I am not interested in tempting fate, but I'm just curios as to how much of a threat they are to the Martins.

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
ToyinPA
Posts: 2110
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:07 pm
Location: PA/Avis
Martin Colony History: The 1972 St. Agnes flood wiped out all the Martins in my area. One day, in 1997-98, 5 or 6 Martins landed on the power wires crossing my back yard. I had no house for them. They kept coming back day after day. We got a martin house a few weeks later & they have been coming back every year since. I average 12-15 pair per year.

Hi Bill:

Red Tail Hawks aren't usually a concern, all tho my martins will chase after them.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
Dave Duit
Posts: 1665
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2019, 54 pair with 218 fledged youngsters. 83 total compartments available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified trio metal house units, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

Red-Tailed hawks mainly focus on mice for their diet. They are not fast enough in flight to pose a threat to martins. Not to say it never happens, but I have never seen a red-tailed hawk go after a martin.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 643
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

Whenever a red tail is nearby I see the martins and other birds dive bombing him. However I would be a little uncomfortable if one was sitting on top of my martin pole. It’s amazing how the martins and other birds recognize a predator bird from one non threatening. We have black bellied whistling ducks who often fly up and right over the top of our poles and the martins ignore them. Then there is the occasional vulture that flies over and they ignore those as well. But if any other type of hawk is nearby birds sound the alarm.
4th Gen Martin Fan
Posts: 1482
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:19 pm
Location: TN/Collierville
Martin Colony History: I have been exposed to purple martin sounds in utero when my mother went out to get my father away from his martin colony.
I played around the martin colony every summer and watched as my father maintained his colony. In the late 50's until the 70's he did not notice European Starlings in south Texas.
When old enough, I helped maintain his colony. My primary task was eliminating English House Sparrows with a 1956 Benjamin 317 .177 air rifle.
When I settled into my own home, I started my first colony with an original Trio Castle and Trio Grandpa. When I moved again, I did not put up any martin houses. Frustration with European Starlings in the Southeast US was overwhelming.
Found PMCA Forum and learned about modern enlarged compartments and SREHs.
Inherited my father's last martin house, a Trio Grandma, modified it to modern specifications and have had good results since then.

In my experience both as a purple martin landlord and a Quail Forever member that helps manage 300 acres for quail habitat, the Red-tailed hawks are more interested in a rabbit or field rat/mouse.
The opposite is true of Sharp-shinned or Cooper's hawks. They primarily go after birds.
If a Red-tailed hawk is in the area, Cooper's and Sharp-shinned hawks do not stay around.
So I prefer the Red-tailed hawk around my purple martin colony and at quail habitat.
Last edited by 4th Gen Martin Fan on Sat May 16, 2020 7:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Mark.
Firm believer in HOSP/EUST Control, Enlarged Compartments, SREHs, Pole Predator Guards, Owl/Hawk Guards, Mite/Parasite Control, Housing Insulation, and Vents for Compartment Cooling.
PMCA Member.
Black Jack
Posts: 71
Joined: Mon May 06, 2019 4:37 pm
Location: NC

You know hawks sometimes surprise me. I have a pond behind my house and i have a duck box for woodies. I usually have great success. About 5 yrs ago before i had the duck box up i saw a female wood duck about center way of said pond in the water and i saw a red shouldered hawk sweep in and attack her and actually drag her to the shore using its wings as a paddle. It was a female hawk and she took off with the full grown wood duck. Now i know this hawk usually goes after frogs, snakes and what nots. That is something that i will always remember. They have such little skinny legs and beak.

Regards
Spiderman
Posts: 776
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:19 am
Location: Gladewater, Texas

I have seen Red Tail Hawks kill Mallard ducks that come up to our bird feeder in the yard.

They also catch allot of grey squirrels as well. Which is amazing because grey squirrels are very fast in the trees and on the ground, I guess the element of surprise.

I don't worry about them around the Martins, they will get airborne and keep an eye on him when he is here, but they don't sound the alarm or get too upset.
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
RAMSMARTINS
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2016 7:22 pm
Location: HOUSTON, TX

The larger hawks like red-tailed, red shouldered, and others generally aren't agile enough to catch adult martins: however, the ones in my area DO catch fledgling martins. They grab them off the tops of trees where they rest when learning to fly. The fledgling martins freeze when a hawk approaches and become fatalities. I have a pair of larger hawks who have been scouting my colony every day waiting for fledglings.
Jones4381
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:54 pm
Location: Rocky Mount VA
Martin Colony History: Newbie 51 years old and stumbled onto this by accident. Amazing bird. Just wanna help and give/receive happiness and be one with nature. Don't mind shooting an intruder of any kind though. Have a blessed day.

RAMSMARTINS wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 3:09 pm
The larger hawks like red-tailed, red shouldered, and others generally aren't agile enough to catch adult martins: however, the ones in my area DO catch fledgling martins. They grab them off the tops of trees where they rest when learning to fly. The fledgling martins freeze when a hawk approaches and become fatalities. I have a pair of larger hawks who have been scouting my colony every day waiting for fledglings.
That makes a lot of sense and good info sir. I love Red Tail Hawks seen em kill snakes and thousands of mice around here and like others said they get squirrel, rabbit, and other small varmit. Imagine small coons, opossums, and weasels. Amazing bird.

The one I got real familiar with and read about on here is the Coopers Hawk we have also in VA. That thing killed several dozens of my chickens years ago. Would only eat the eyes and areas around the throat and leave the rest for me to discard. I assume they will be rough on any bird as they are so fast and agile...but it's natures way to thin the herd of all species. Interesting read and string.
51 year old HY beginner. Year 1 for me!
4th Gen Martin Fan
Posts: 1482
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:19 pm
Location: TN/Collierville
Martin Colony History: I have been exposed to purple martin sounds in utero when my mother went out to get my father away from his martin colony.
I played around the martin colony every summer and watched as my father maintained his colony. In the late 50's until the 70's he did not notice European Starlings in south Texas.
When old enough, I helped maintain his colony. My primary task was eliminating English House Sparrows with a 1956 Benjamin 317 .177 air rifle.
When I settled into my own home, I started my first colony with an original Trio Castle and Trio Grandpa. When I moved again, I did not put up any martin houses. Frustration with European Starlings in the Southeast US was overwhelming.
Found PMCA Forum and learned about modern enlarged compartments and SREHs.
Inherited my father's last martin house, a Trio Grandma, modified it to modern specifications and have had good results since then.

Cooper's Hawks were notorious for raiding and killing Farmers' chickens when the chickens ranged free on their farmyards. So they acquired the nickname - Chicken Hawks.
Before the Federal laws protecting Birds of Prey, it was a practice to kill them if possible and as many as possible to reduce the loss of chickens on a farmer's property.
With Federal protection the Cooper's Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks have flourished. No free range chickens now, so Purple Martin colonies make a second choice.
There are a lot of them here in the MidSouth and they seem to be increasing in numbers each year. It is what it is.
Mark.
Firm believer in HOSP/EUST Control, Enlarged Compartments, SREHs, Pole Predator Guards, Owl/Hawk Guards, Mite/Parasite Control, Housing Insulation, and Vents for Compartment Cooling.
PMCA Member.
Jones4381
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:54 pm
Location: Rocky Mount VA
Martin Colony History: Newbie 51 years old and stumbled onto this by accident. Amazing bird. Just wanna help and give/receive happiness and be one with nature. Don't mind shooting an intruder of any kind though. Have a blessed day.

4th Gen Martin Fan wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 10:40 pm
Cooper's Hawks were notorious for raiding and killing Farmers' chickens when the chickens ranged free on their farmyards. So they acquired the nickname - Chicken Hawks.
Before the Federal laws protecting Birds of Prey, it was a practice to kill them if possible and as many as possible to reduce the loss of chickens on a farmer's property.
With Federal protection the Cooper's Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks have flourished. No free range chickens now, so Purple Martin colonies make a second choice.
There are a lot of them here in the MidSouth and they seem to be increasing in numbers each year. It is what it is.
That's some good stuff there Mark. I have a good story for you over here in Western VA. My brother had a nice 12X8 coop built out of Hemlock rough cut with 3 windows facing out. One afternoon he heard a loud crash and breaking of glass. Went up to coop and found a Coopers Hawk lying motionless inside the coop on the floor, thought it was dead from flying threw the window. Went to get his phone to take photo and when he came back the Hawk was up on the rungs jumping from rung to rung following his rooster. He called the VA Game and Inland Fisheries to report. they Warned him of doing any danger to the hawk (Federal and state crime and he just laughed as he thought the damn thing nearly killed itself flying through the glass window. Anyway He opened door and shoosed the rooster out and the hawk was eye balling him now. He went around and the hawk went doorside and managed to fly off. we still laugh about that story today as that was one crazy coopers hawk...but man those things no how to kill birds for sure.
51 year old HY beginner. Year 1 for me!
4th Gen Martin Fan
Posts: 1482
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:19 pm
Location: TN/Collierville
Martin Colony History: I have been exposed to purple martin sounds in utero when my mother went out to get my father away from his martin colony.
I played around the martin colony every summer and watched as my father maintained his colony. In the late 50's until the 70's he did not notice European Starlings in south Texas.
When old enough, I helped maintain his colony. My primary task was eliminating English House Sparrows with a 1956 Benjamin 317 .177 air rifle.
When I settled into my own home, I started my first colony with an original Trio Castle and Trio Grandpa. When I moved again, I did not put up any martin houses. Frustration with European Starlings in the Southeast US was overwhelming.
Found PMCA Forum and learned about modern enlarged compartments and SREHs.
Inherited my father's last martin house, a Trio Grandma, modified it to modern specifications and have had good results since then.

Jones4381,
I have no idea how I missed your last post. That story makes the point how aggressively a Cooper's Hawk will attack a bird. That Cooper's Hawk saw that rooster through the glass window and was determined to kill it. In an earlier post, you made the point how wasteful a Cooper's Hawk is. They will kill a bird, peck out its eyes, and leave the carcass. They won't even eat the bird for food.
I obey the Federal laws not to kill Predator Birds including Cooper's Hawks but they are one of several reasons why wild quail do not exist in the South anymore.
Mark.
Firm believer in HOSP/EUST Control, Enlarged Compartments, SREHs, Pole Predator Guards, Owl/Hawk Guards, Mite/Parasite Control, Housing Insulation, and Vents for Compartment Cooling.
PMCA Member.
mjfog
Posts: 233
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
2020 - Rack 1 - 6 B011s, Rack 2 - 24 B011s, and Rack 3 - 24 Troyer Horizontals. All gourds have tunnels, porches and crescent/Conley 11 entrances; racks have predator guards. 161 eggs - 88 fledged

Jones4381,
Quail numbers have diminished in the southeast because of farming practices. Very large farms and no "edge habitat" for quail. The single most destructive practice for diminishing wildlife numbers is agriculture. Despite of what the farmers say.
Mike
4th Gen Martin Fan
Posts: 1482
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:19 pm
Location: TN/Collierville
Martin Colony History: I have been exposed to purple martin sounds in utero when my mother went out to get my father away from his martin colony.
I played around the martin colony every summer and watched as my father maintained his colony. In the late 50's until the 70's he did not notice European Starlings in south Texas.
When old enough, I helped maintain his colony. My primary task was eliminating English House Sparrows with a 1956 Benjamin 317 .177 air rifle.
When I settled into my own home, I started my first colony with an original Trio Castle and Trio Grandpa. When I moved again, I did not put up any martin houses. Frustration with European Starlings in the Southeast US was overwhelming.
Found PMCA Forum and learned about modern enlarged compartments and SREHs.
Inherited my father's last martin house, a Trio Grandma, modified it to modern specifications and have had good results since then.

Mike,
I cannot agree more. Our MidSouth Quail Forever chapter has maintained 300 acres of quail habitat for over 20 years. Our multi discipline approach includes native prairie grasses, prescribed burns, ecotone transition areas, fire ant control, etc.
Today we had our monthly meeting at the quail habitat. This morning four of us arrived several hours earlier to clear a large oak tree that was blown over by a windstorm and bridged a perimeter firebreak.
http://www.midsouthquailforever.org/
Mark.
Firm believer in HOSP/EUST Control, Enlarged Compartments, SREHs, Pole Predator Guards, Owl/Hawk Guards, Mite/Parasite Control, Housing Insulation, and Vents for Compartment Cooling.
PMCA Member.
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