Field Notes

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malachy cleary
Posts: 70
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: cold spring n.y.
Martin Colony History: First breeding pair in 2011. Site moved up hill 350 feet at beginning of nesting season
2019 to accommodate road construction.
Colony seems to have weathered the upheaval

Witnessed a martin fly out of a gourd with a dragonfly in its beak. It proceeded to fly up and down dropping and re catching its prey.Any thoughts?
A Coopers Hawk has taken to hunting my gourd rack.
The Martins call out an alarm but the raptor has caught two within an hour that I witnessed. I guess there's no way to deter him?
Whippy
Posts: 856
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:15 pm
Location: Plano, Texas
Martin Colony History: See Signature

I'm planning to get an air soft gun to use to deter the hawks. It won't hurt them at all since it delivers plastic BB's but will make it known they aren't going to be very comfortable in the area. I'm leaning towards one that is full automatic so I can chase him out of the yard with a trail of BB's on his butt.

I haven't committed to that idea yet but as long as it doesn't cause any harm it seems like an option.

I have one pair this year about to fledge three any day now. A couple of days ago a hawk landed on top of my gourd rack and I scared him a way by standing up and stepping towards him and that's when the air soft idea came to me.

Coolwhips.
2016 - late to put up, many visitors
2017 - 1 pair, 3 fledged
2018- 2 pair, 12 fledged
2019 - 4 pair, 21 fledged
2020 - 15 pair, 67 fledged
Martinfarmer
Posts: 153
Joined: Sun May 07, 2017 6:33 pm
Location: Guthrie KY 42234
Martin Colony History: 2015 put up a S-k house, visitors but no takers
2016 homemade Martin condo (40 nesting boxes) several visitors no takers
2017 changed crescent openings to Troyer Conley 2 openings and installed 4 super gourds with Conley2 adapters and 12 vertical Troyers.
Several nests and eggs. Hopefully will exceed one hundred eggs this year.
6-21-17 nest inspection 68 chicks and 26 eggs
6-30-17 inspection 90 chicks and a new nest with 4 eggs.
8-30-17 successfully fledged over 85 martins.

malachy cleary wrote:Witnessed a martin fly out of a gourd with a dragonfly in its beak. It proceeded to fly up and down dropping and re catching its prey.Any thoughts?
A Coopers Hawk has taken to hunting my gourd rack.
The Martins call out an alarm but the raptor has caught two within an hour that I witnessed. I guess there's no way to deter him?

So far when a Coopers hawk comes into range ,all my martins fly off the house and chase and harass him until he leaves the neighborhood. My neighbors martins join in, usually forty or fifty after him and the Cooper's hawk gets annoyed and leaves.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1932
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

The dropping and re-catching of insects is normally the parents way of training their young how to catch prey on their own. If you observe this behavior again you will probably notice a young one nearby.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
ToyinPA
Posts: 2166
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.

malachy cleary wrote:Witnessed a martin fly out of a gourd with a dragonfly in its beak. It proceeded to fly up and down dropping and re catching its prey.Any thoughts?
A Coopers Hawk has taken to hunting my gourd rack.
The Martins call out an alarm but the raptor has caught two within an hour that I witnessed. I guess there's no way to deter him?
Two options.....
1. As Dave said...training their chicks to catch food.

2. The other is how they kill them. They drop, grab, drop, grab until they are dead.

Not much you can do about hawks. They are protected.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
JRow
Posts: 52
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2017 2:23 pm
Location: Eastern South Dakota
Martin Colony History: 2017--super 24 gourd rack with a mix of Troyer horizontals and natural gourds

PMCA member

If you have king birds in your area, you may want to provide habitat for a pair. The eastern king birds hate hawks and are extremely aggressive when they come around. Here in the Midwest, it's helpful to have a pair within distance of the Martins. They get along fine with Martins. Flycatchers so they do eat insects but don't nest in cavities. That's been my experience anyway.
Best-
~Jen

2017-- 23 pair with 99 eggs: 81 hatched, 80 fledged.
PMCA member
-=DKC=-
Posts: 356
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:26 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX
Martin Colony History: ................
2019: 11 pairs
2018: 11 pairs - 43 fledged
2017: 4 pairs - 17 fledged

I would not shoot a hawk with anything. And I would call game wardens on any neighbor that I saw doing it. But I am sympathetic to the situation. I do go out and chase off hawks yelling and clapping. My Martins feel like family. But don't do it.
JRow wrote:If you have king birds in your area, you may want to provide habitat for a pair. The eastern king birds hate hawks and are extremely aggressive when they come around. Here in the Midwest, it's helpful to have a pair within distance of the Martins. They get along fine with Martins. Flycatchers so they do eat insects but don't nest in cavities. That's been my experience anyway.
Best-
Interesting you say that. We have nesting Couch's Kingbirds in a neighbor's yard. They are the neighborhood enforcers. No gull flies through unmolested. Or hawk. And they have been very successful breeding around here.
"If at first you don't succeed, keep on suckin' till you do succeed." - Curly Howard
JRow
Posts: 52
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2017 2:23 pm
Location: Eastern South Dakota
Martin Colony History: 2017--super 24 gourd rack with a mix of Troyer horizontals and natural gourds

PMCA member

-=DKC=- wrote:Interesting you say that. We have nesting Couch's Kingbirds in a neighbor's yard. They are the neighborhood enforcers. No gull flies through unmolested. Or hawk. And they have been very successful breeding around here.
Yes, I didn't initially think much about the kingbirds in this area. After seeing the interaction on my own property, I think they are around for a reason. Interesting how nature can make things balance!
~Jen

2017-- 23 pair with 99 eggs: 81 hatched, 80 fledged.
PMCA member
malachy cleary
Posts: 70
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: cold spring n.y.
Martin Colony History: First breeding pair in 2011. Site moved up hill 350 feet at beginning of nesting season
2019 to accommodate road construction.
Colony seems to have weathered the upheaval

Thanks for the comments. Helpful. What would constitute
Kingbird habitat ?

Additional Notes: I believe the Martin predator is a Sharp- Shinned Hawk. Interestingly it is leaving the nearby free range chickens alone and focusing on the Martins, a bird feeder with Mourning Dive decoys has been suggested.
I have now witnessed 4 Martins being taken over the course of two days with me sitting less than 60 feet away.
So I'm guessing the actual number is five times that.
I have about 5 nests with abandoned eggs and 2 where the young were left to starve to death. 1 gourd had 3 dead young that were 20 days old. Parents eaten?
I was somewhat under the impression the other Martins would take over the feeding but I guess I am mistaken.
I imagine theveawk is busy feeding its young.
ToyinPA
Posts: 2166
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.

malachy cleary wrote:Thanks for the comments. Helpful. What would constitute
Kingbird habitat ?

Additional Notes: I believe the Martin predator is a Sharp- Shinned Hawk. Interestingly it is leaving the nearby free range chickens alone and focusing on the Martins, a bird feeder with Mourning Dive decoys has been suggested.
I have now witnessed 4 Martins being taken over the course of two days with me sitting less than 60 feet away.
So I'm guessing the actual number is five times that.
I have about 5 nests with abandoned eggs and 2 where the young were left to starve to death. 1 gourd had 3 dead young that were 20 days old. Parents eaten?
I was somewhat under the impression the other Martins would take over the feeding but I guess I am mistaken.
I imagine theveawk is busy feeding its young.

Put up decoys if possible to deter the hawks. They may or may not work.

Martins will take over feeding a chick, but it needs to be in their nest. If possible move abandoned chicks to a nest with other chicks the same age or size.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
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