SAD

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
Post Reply
linsue
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun May 23, 2004 11:02 am
Location: South Carolina

I'm still sitting here looking at an empty purple martin gourd rack. SAD SAD SAD! I really hate those crows.
chickadee
Posts: 1126
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:02 pm
Location: ohio

Hi I am lost? Please catch me up. Why is your rack empty? And what about the crows? Hate to see anyone sad in Martin season. :cry:
2008 first year 1 pair. 2009 3 pair. 2010 7 pair. 2011 20 pair . 2012 44 pair 280 eggs 210 fledged. 2013 67 pair. 2014?
linsue
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun May 23, 2004 11:02 am
Location: South Carolina

Chickadee, thanks for your concern. Last year, the crows took every baby from my site. Total devastation! I've had a very successful site for 9 years but looks like I will have to start over. I added tunnels and changed to cresent entrances hoping the martins will accept them. My closest neighbor lost her colony too. She has an aluminum house and attached wire over the house. So far, she has not seen a martin either. Until the crows moved it, this area attracted more martins than we could provide housing for. I really miss sitting outside watching and listening to them.
MamaBruff
Posts: 1466
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:21 pm
Location: SW Missouri
Martin Colony History: 2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.

Maybe they are just late this year, too. A lot of folks are still waiting... Don't give up! ((hug))
~Mary B~

Lifelong PM Admirer and Nature Enthusiast.
Ruthless trapper of S&S year round.
2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.
Dick Sherry
Posts: 774
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:30 pm
Location: Tulsa, OK

Over the 30-some years we have hosted martins, there have been several times where storm losses or other factors caused the martins to abandon our site. You may have to take a more active role in trying to lure them back. If you have made the housing safe from the crow attacks, then obtain one of the several tapes or CD's that are available of martin calls, and play them each morning for a few hours. You might also put some martin decoys on your housing. It has worked for us, and should for you. It is like starting all over again, and it's like dating, you have to do some wooing and get them interested.

I am guessing that the culprits were fish crows. They have expanded their range to Oklahoma, and drive our martins crazy when they come around.
MamaBruff
Posts: 1466
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:21 pm
Location: SW Missouri
Martin Colony History: 2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.

Dick,
How did you combat the Fish Crows, as far as housing options?
~Mary B~

Lifelong PM Admirer and Nature Enthusiast.
Ruthless trapper of S&S year round.
2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.
linsue
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun May 23, 2004 11:02 am
Location: South Carolina

Actually Dick, they are American crows and there are a lot (probably 20 or 30) in this area now. Up until last year, I would only hear a few but rarely saw them. This had been an area with very few predators, just an occasional small hawk that was migrating through. We don't have sparrows or starlings here either so it was very easy to be a PM landlord. Guess those days are over. I am still hopeful the pm's are on their way and are just late due to the cold weather. Watching and listening to the martins is my favorite pastime.
Jaique
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2005 2:33 pm
Location: North Carolina/Greensboro

Something got my adult martins last summer. Never a problem in 8 years until then. All adults disappeared with 21 total eggs in 3 rooms. I suspected an owl or hawk but since I've seen your post, I also can blame it on crows. We have plenty of them too. I am also waiting and hoping some will return
linsue
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun May 23, 2004 11:02 am
Location: South Carolina

Jacque, sorry to hear you had a problem too. As soon as the crows got the babies out of the gourd, the adults left. There wasn't a martin in site by mid- May. I tried to run out and scare the crows but it didn't work. I even shot in the air but they still came back for more until nothing was left. Looks like we're both starting over.
eyeamtheman
Posts: 633
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 3:21 pm
Location: Quitman, La
Martin Colony History: Super colony

If you were able to shoot in the air, then why couldn't you shoot THEM?
I thought crows were considered "crop depredators" and you could shoot em.
You certainly can around here, and I would have done just that without hesitation....
Johnny
Dick Sherry
Posts: 774
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:30 pm
Location: Tulsa, OK

About 10 years ago we started to get frequent attacks on our martin housing by sharpshinned hawks. They would grab the martins off the porch of the house at times when the martins were sluggish. After losing two in a matter of days, I made wire cages that are attached to the Trio/Nature House aluminum houses. I made them large enough that the side of the cage is about 8 inches from the edge of the porch - far enough that a hawk, owl or crow could not possibly reach through to grab a bird off the porch, or out of the nest. These cages were made of hog wire which has a larger opening in the mesh that the martins get through easily, but hog wire isn't easy to find without buying a long roll of it.

About three years ago, a Coopers hawk grabbed a female martin off the porch of a gourd that had an aluminum rod owl guard on it. I immediately made cages for individual gourds (using plastic coated 2"x4" mesh wire). I attached these cages to the aluminum rods which made them very sturdy and by curving the wire it protected from the top, front and sides of the gourd, and the martins have been very secure from any flying predators.

Hosting martins has changed a lot over the last 10 years or so because the predator populations seem to be thriving, and recognize martin housing as a ready source of food. To keep the martins as safe as possible we have to protect them from flying, climbing and slithering predators. It takes a little more work, but it is well worth it to see the martins safely raise their young and get them on the wing.
chickadee
Posts: 1126
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:02 pm
Location: ohio

dick, 2 years ago we put wired cages around are racks. best thing we ever done. I feel safer when I hear story's about crows, hawks and owls. and I think my martins feel safer when they are here on their porches. you are right we attract them here and need to make them as safe as we can. even if it takes a little more work. the outcome is so well worth it.
2008 first year 1 pair. 2009 3 pair. 2010 7 pair. 2011 20 pair . 2012 44 pair 280 eggs 210 fledged. 2013 67 pair. 2014?
Steve Martin
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:38 am
Location: Tx/Bastrop

The American crow is a learning bird, they learn from trial and error and they learn by watching other flock members. Bastrop has a healthy population of these birds and it has a number of thriving martin colonies. It is possible that the crows here have not learned that the martin colonies are a possible food source.

I would try using the same counter measures that you would employ against screech owls. According to Wikipedia the smallest Am Crows are about 1/3 larger than the largest screech owls. The difference is that crows are one of the most agile climbers of the passerine world. Not as good as the parrots though. The crows have learned that they can get a meal from your colony. They will try again and they will use there climbing agility to get at the meal. They will try and try again to defeat the owl guard. It might take some time to give up if they can hear the chicks inside.

You might try to make a spit-wad shooter with 1/2 or 3/4 inch pvc pipe to shoot at the crows. They will learn to fear you more than other humans. There has been studies with American crows and if you wear an ugly mask (cut out the mouth) they will associate the mask wearing human with the threat. Once you get the crows afraid of you with the mask you might make a scare crow with the mask.
eyeamtheman wrote:If you were able to shoot in the air, then why couldn't you shoot THEM? I thought crows were considered "crop depredators" and you could shoot em. You certainly can around here, and I would have done just that without hesitation....
Crows are protected, you must obtain a permit to kill them. I don't think your state will grant you a permit on that basis. You must treat the crows the same as any other native predator. Martins and crows have been in an ecological balance for millions of years in North America.
Attachments
foo6.jpg
foo6.jpg (14.9 KiB) Viewed 1500 times
Jaique
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2005 2:33 pm
Location: North Carolina/Greensboro

Thanks all. I know you feel my pain. Part of me wants my martins to return; part of me hopes they won't come where they might meet with problems. Making owl guards is on my hubby's to do list. I hate to hear of any critter being shot, but I'm tempted, even tho I don't own a gun. :???:
Jose Rodriguez
Posts: 692
Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:34 am
Location: FL/Belleview

Wow! this is news to me about the crows. Our crows hate hawks. They actually spot a hawk and start dive bombing them and chase them away whether they are Cooper's or Red Tails. Because we were protecting other wildlife song birds around here to include our pigeons we would feed the crows small unwanted pigeon eggs only to keep them around as an alarm when a hawk shows up. The crows had their very own egg tray on a fence post. They knew where to get a meal. Sounds like I have to change things around here.

Sorry for feeding the crows! :cry:
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Jose, it's complicated - having nesting crows around can be a helpful deterrent to nesting hawks and owls - none of them wants the others around. Crows mob owls and hawks, hawks will take nestling crows, owls will take nestling hawks, etc.

It's usually not an issue to have American Crows around; usually the culprits are Fish Crows, slightly smaller and often near water. ID help here: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/crows/FishCrow.htm Even experts say they are not easy to tell apart. And listen, too: fish crow http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Fish_Crow/sounds

No matter which type of crow (or hawks and owls) a landlord is dealing with, the best protection is combination of deeper compartments and external guards. Here's a photo: http://www.purplemartin.org/forumarchiv ... guards.htm and here's another: http://www.purplemartin.org/forumarchiv ... lGuard.htm

As for feeding the crows, probably not a good idea to have them associate your location with food! A landlord in NY routinely left shot HOSP or starlings in his yard and crows got in habit scavenging them. Then, when cold spring weather resulted in weak martins on the ground... guess what the crows ate?
birdy girl
Posts: 1178
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

We have lots of crows around here and we do feed ours too especially when martins leave for Brazil and in the winter. Never had any problems with them getting baby martins. We do have tunnels on all but few of our gourds. The crows alarm martins and us of nearby hawks. Saw a crow chasing a red tail couple days ago. Chased it for a while. I hate the crows were so cruel to your martins. If you don't have tunnels on your martin houses, maybe add tunnels or add the cages like others do.

I hope you adult martins come back and things are better this year.
Jose Rodriguez
Posts: 692
Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:34 am
Location: FL/Belleview

Louise,

I do have the dual wire owl/hawk guards on order for all our gourds. As soon as they come in they are being installed. Thanks!
Post Reply