Alpha Male ??

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Hanover Bill
Posts: 627
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

I have been at this for quite a few years now and figured I had seen about everything. Not so. This season I have an "Alpha Male", that's the best way I can describe him. He is a large, powerful, and aggressive ASY Male. Over the years I have been scolded by a variety of Martins when approaching the housing. However not to the extent that this guy comes after me. He charges me with a head of steam only to turn away when he is uncomfortably close to my head, only to repeat this over and over again. He appears to have taken on the responsibility of protecting the entire colony all on his own. Hopefully he will take on any HOSP or Starling that approaches in the same aggressive manner.

This is my first experience with a Martin that is this aggressive. I can't help but laugh at his ferocity, and determination, while at the same time admiring his sense of responsibility toward protecting his Colony.

Is he the exception to the rule or is this common behavior. I have never witnessed it before.

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
Posts: 451
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:43 pm
Location: Raceland, Louisiana

I've had scoldings too but never really paid much attention. Some were more aggressive then others. You have me curious. Can't wait to hear what others say.
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.


I've had a couple "Alpha Males" over the years. They are pretty much as you describe, but mine never came after me. They were like warriors guarding their nest, chicks, female & the rest of the colony.

I currently have a lone ASY Male. He wasn't able to get a mate, so he took on babysitting duty. He often stays behind to guard a nest of chicks while the parents go for food.

Nature is amazing if you pay attention to it.

Toy in PA
PMCA Member
Black Jack
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon May 06, 2019 4:37 pm
Location: NC

I got a SY female that loves to beat me down and when i am not around she dive bombs my decoy to death. She has 3 little ones.
Posts: 128
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:30 pm
Location: Long Lake SD
Martin Colony History: 2006 - SY pair, unsuccessful nest attempt, 3 houses = 52 cavities

2010 - ASYM + SYF pair - male disappeared after storm, female fledged all 4 young.

2015 - Lone SYM stayed month of June...added 8 gourds = 60 cavities

2016 - 1 nesting pair (ASYM + SYF) 2/3 eggs hatched 2 young fledged.

2017 - 4 nesting pairs, 16/17 eggs hatched, 16 fledged, 16 banded - 2 banded SY returned in 2018 (12.5%), added housing: 11 houses w/gourds, 4 gourd poles = 376 cavities

2018 - 10 nesting pairs, 46/52 eggs hatched, 45 fledged, 29 banded - 3 banded SY returned in 2019 (10.3%)

2019 - 32 nesting pairs, 145/160 eggs hatched, 139 fledged - 87 banded - 12 banded SY returned in 2020 (13.8%).

2020 - 35 nesting pairs, 180/199 eggs hatched, 178 fledged - 150 banded.

Birds in my colony tend to get more aggressive towards me the closer to fledging their young get. However they settle down after I'm under the housing for a few minutes, but if my dogs walk under the housing, the entire colony will "mob-bomb" them until they are 35 yards from the colony. During egg laying, incubation and having young less than 20 days old, they seldom dive bomb me or my dogs.
Posts: 314
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm
Location: FL

I was doing a job in a subdivision where the martins nest in the streetlights. I was driving to the house and I saw a crow hanging off the light trying to reach inside. Just as that happened an asy male came hit the crow turned and grabbed onto the crows back and they both spun down and hit the road in front of my truck. I couldn’t believe what I had just seen. They both flew off and the crow did not attempt it again. I had seen martins chase crows but never make physical contact this male was not going to lose his eggs or babies to some crow.
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