Archive for the ‘predators’ Category

REVOLUTIONARY OWL DETERRANT

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

I am quite excited to try this at our colony this year as so far I have heard a GHO (Great Horned Owl) hooting in a wooded lot across the street. It makes my blood run cold since I know that once an owl discovers the plump morsels that reside within the large white “orbs” in my yard, my colony is as good as gone. NOTHING is more destructive to a colony that owl predation…maybe snakes…hawks are up there also. But owls are up there for sure.
Several years back, we introduced NiteGuards as an owl deterrent, but we heard reports of these not working as well as expected. Also, they were pretty ineffective once an owl already discovered the easy meals at a martin colony. We now have DANCING SCARE CROWS! Read this testimonial:

“I have had problems with Great Horned Owls every year since my colony started, because my colony is pretty remote…I set (The Dancing Man) up with a timer that turned on at 10pm and off at 6am. That was the end of my GHO problems. I looked outside constantly and never saw a sign of a Great Horned Owl. I was losing 2-3 martins every night until I started using the dancing man.” R. A., Pa.

We have also heard rave reviews from some great folks on Facebook like Paul Whodatnation Gremillion. We are working on making a version of this dancing man available on our website, but if you look around and you can get it cheaper, GO FOR IT!!! We plan on getting one ASAP! Just Google SKY DANCERS or AIRDANCERS. Try and get one with a weather resistant blower as some are not. Also some are sold WITHOUT the blower and that is not always clearly stated (on sites such as Amazon) so beware. Let us know your experiences!

Snake Netting Making an Early Save!

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

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Snake netting is one of the cheapest, easiest, and most effective way to protect your purple Martin colony from the very real danger of snakes. Though it is early in the season, and the birds have just started nest building, a snake has already been caught in our snake netting.
Snake netting is really a product called bird netting. Available in the garden section of any home improvement store. Learn more by reading the following from a blog entry of ours from 2011.

How to Make Snake Netting to Protect Your Martins
Bluebird trails, Tree swallow boxes and purple martin landlords can all benefit from using snake netting (actually bird netting) on your poles. Snakes can climb up any pole and can even thwart many predator guards. Since no predator guard is 100% fool proof, this quick and easy tip can further decrease the chances of one of these critters from slinking their way up your martin pole.

Bird netting can be found at just about any garden center, home improvement center and is used to keep birds from eating the fruit and veggies in your garden. It can be found in either rolls or flat packaging, and comes in several sizes. We recommend using 2 sizes to protect against larger and smaller snakes. 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch.

The exact way to attach the netting to your poles is unimportant. The netting needs to be held out and away from the pole to both prevent ground predators from using the net to circumvent any other predator guards in place (such as a stovepipe type) and to make the snake go through the net rather than up and around it. Thus the exact way to layer the netting is a debatable issue. Many different techniques have been used successfully. The main idea is for it to be above your predator guard to serve as a last “hail Mary” of protection. The netting should be full and hang loosely. Think of a big fluffy skirt under your housing.

Season Having Ominous Start

Monday, February 24th, 2014

I hope this is simply a case of what my husband refers to as my “Glass Half Empty” tendencies BUT yesterdays joy about seeing the martins bringing in nest materiel has been dampened. While sitting at my desk a loud bang at the window got my up to investigate. Having heard bird strikes before, I looked down low outside the window. There, with wings sprawled open was a gorgeous ASY female with her eyes open. I ran out just in time to scare off a pair of hawks from withing feet of the martin. I suspect a young (fledgling) hawk was being instructed in his hunting technique and the martin hit the window in a desperate attempt to flee. After scaring them off, with the martin colony in hot pursuit, I turned to the female. She got up and flew (a tad bit unsteadily) off. I wish I could have caught her, to give her an hour of quiet and safe recovery. She obviously wanted none of my coddling.

Last year the end of our season was plagued by Coopers hawk attacks. Often 2,3, or 4 times a day, we saw Coopers hanging out in the trees at the edges of our property, hanging off gourds trying to flush out birds and nestlings, fly by attacks, and flying off with both adults and fledgling birds. I told myself that this season I would erect some sort of hardware cloth cage to protect the housing…but alas…that didn’t happen.

Though this photo shows what I wanted to do, my gourd racks have much smaller and lightweight brackets that would not support the weight of the wire.  Hmmm, it’s making me think!

 

(C)  2014 S.Halpin

Another Reason for Cats Indoors

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

I know I get a little “Soap Box-ish” when it comes to the American Bird Conservancy’s Cats Indoors campaign. This video is one of the reasons why. As a bird AND cat lover, I feel that I am 100% qualified to endorse ABC’s and the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (to name a couple) stand on domesticated cats being allowed to roam free. Check out this 32 second video to see why.

Purple Martin Orphans Take Flight

Friday, June 21st, 2013

At 26 days old and hitting about 47 grams, a trio of purple Martin orphans were released.
The hawk attacks have subsided and I even saw the much missed red shouldered hawk a few days ago. I hope that signals that the Cooper’s hawk has left the area. Enough damage was done this season by the Coopers who was hitting our colony upwards of 4-6 times a day. I was witnessing him taking ASY and fledglings alike from trees and directly from the housing.
Oh well…these 3 young martins got a full belly of live crickets and a dose of avian vitamins before taking to the air. I am proud to day they looked much better than when I found them on the ground after having jumped out of hunger & desperation. They were very much under weight and thankfully were able to recover. One nest mate who jumped 1 day after these 3 was unfortunately never able to gain enough weight and did not survive. Remember that taking a Martin fledgling to a wildlife rehabilitator should always be your first choice. If you need more info on what to do if you find a grounded purple, go to PurpleMartins-R-Us.com/Emergencies

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Perfect Storm

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Over a week of terrible weather due to the first named tropical system of hurricane season and a greedy Coopers Hawk has taken its toll on our colony. The hawk was coming several times a day. I witnessed him grabbing the sides of the houses and gourds and shaking them violently in order to try and flush out martins. He got 3 birds in one day that I witnessed. Of course, it could have been more than one Coopers…maybe a family of them for all I know. What I know for sure is that the large numbers of recently fledged martins are no longer being brought home at night and our numbers have plummeted drastically. There are about 4 nests being fed and night time is a much quieter affair. It is hard to say if the hawk has stopped coming by as often because there are less birds or there are less birds due to the hawk. I won’t take any credit in scaring the hawk off with our Scarecrow…but you never know.

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Another Study Proves Environmental Harm Cats Cause

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

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A new study completed by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute proves yet again that free range cats cause a huge and devastating impact to birds and other wildlife. Between 7-20 BILLION small mammals and almost 4 BILLION birds each and every year in the continental US alone. While some might say, “Hay, sounds like Garfield is eating lots of mice!” Remember, those are not just mice and those mice are a valuable food source for owls, other raptors and othr animals in the food chain. Along with the facts that cats that are fed will kill more prey. Just something to consider. Read the article HERE..

Purple Martin Colony Loss: Getting Your Martins Back

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Here is a question I received concerning what to do when a colony is lost due to predation.

Q:

Dear PurpleMartins-R-Us:
My 92-year old grandfather has two purple martin houses (a 24-compartment house and a 12-compartment house). Unfortunately, after about 10 years of successfully colonizing, snakes climbed the poles about five years ago and that was, of course, the end of the purple martins. He misses them dearly and is highly motivated to resume his landlord duties should the martins come home.
My question is, how do we bring the martins back? He continues to clean the houses and raise them in time for their migrations, but to no avail. Do we need to replace the houses? Do we need to move the houses?
We appreciate any advice you can offer and thank you for your time!

A:

Basically he has to start from scratch. Use tools like dawnsong CD’s to attract them in to the site and decoys, prevent any further predation from snakes and he should be able to attract new martins from his surrounding area. Unfortunately, The martins that lived in his houses, that lost babies due to the snakes, will never return. Moving or changing the houses should not be necessary.

This question highlights the need to vigilance when it comes to protecting your colony from predation. Predator Guards, Snake netting and nest checks are tools that can keep your martin colony healthy and thriving.

GoodBye Trio MSS-8

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Erva announced recently that is was discontinuing a couple of their aluminum purple martin houses. The MSS-8 is therefore being discontinued. I was never crazy about the MSS-8 as it was just too small and there are several much better values out there. Once you close off alternating compartments, as recommended by the PMCA and PurpleMartins-R-Us.com, you end up with a pretty standard, unimpressive 4 room house. Not giving you much room for a healthy colony, our opinion is a 4 room house is just wrong.

Why do we make such a big deal about enlarging compartments? 6×6 is so 20th century and so unsafe. 6×12 is the way to go. Predators such as Owls can reach in 6 inches with their feet making anything in a small 6×6 compartment an easy dinner. Even Fish Crows and in some cases Blue Jays, have been known to reach in and snatch an easy meal. Also PMCA studies show that purple martins that nest in larger compartments lay more eggs on average, more eggs hatch and more survive to fledge.  A simple feat to enlarge existing compartments. Some housing systems (Like Quad Pods) use a “baffle” to deter Owls. That is simply a plastic barrier, within the compartment that prevents the owl from seeing past it and into the compartment itself. Larger compartments simply increase the distance from entrance to the nest interior. The added length makes it difficult for an Owl to reach in and pull out birds with his talons. Since an Owl can not reach in far enough, houses or gourds that incorporate this added length can help your Martins have some measure of safety.

The other models being discontinues are the DH-12N (a budget version of the popular Trio Mini Castle system) and the winch version of the MSS-12. The Budget DH-12N has always had stiff competition from the Heath 12/6 convertible that has the added features of SREH (Starling Resistant Entrance Holes) and compartments that can be easily enlarged to the recommended size, and still has the same hexagon shape that folks find so attractive. Though Heath does make an even cheaper version of the 12/6 convertible, again we do not recommend it due to the safety issues it poses to purple martins.

Screech Owls Need a Hand

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

As a proponent of all native cavity nesting birds, I again was reminded of the housing shortage when the floor to the much sought screech owlsafter Flicker nest box fell out. After several seasons of hard use, interest by Woodpeckers, Greater Crested Flycatchers, Screech Owls and most recently, Horned owl attacks, 2 new nest boxes will be going up this weekend. I will be adding some experimental Owl Guards to keep the larger Barred/Horned Owls from killing their smaller “Screech-y” cousins.The Screech Owls seem to get caught by the Repeating nest box trap once a season. Even though the trap is placed lower to the ground than what Owls are said to like, my theory is that they are always desperate for nest sites and will investigate any cavity.

As a few cool days have reminded me of approaching winter and the news shows snow storms already battering some States, I welcome my yearly Eastern Phoebe friends that I have seen.