Posts Tagged ‘hawk’

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

Purple Martin Season Is Over for 2010

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

SY maleIt’s official, the last of the nests have fledged and all the babies have taken to the air. A hawk was making daily visits and though I am sure (s)he got at least 2 fledglings, I am sure more fell victim. I was unable to get a good look so I am hoping it was the resident Red Shouldered Hawk, a slower and larger hawk that poses a formidable threat but less so than the smaller faster Coopers Hawk that are common in South Florida also.

The Red Shouldered hawks nest close by and protect this as their territory from other hawks. If that can be counted as protection…I am not too sure.

Night time is quiet and I am not sure if many martins are returning to the nests to roost at night. They may have moved on to a local assembly area or pre-migratory roost. The fact that I am talking about the roosts already almost sounds crazy! Can time have flown by so fast? I guess I will start planning another trip to the roost in Davie this year.  It has almost been exactly a year since I went to see it and video taped it. You can see it at my blog post titled Purple Martin Pre-Migratory Roost Spectacular. It is a great YouTube clip taken at the roost with swarms of purple martins.

The webcam will not be up again for the remainder of this year as the computer I had it running on is dead. I plan on replacing it as soon as I can and it will be up again next January. I promise.

©2010 / S.Halpin

HY Purple Martin Euthanized

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

The deed was finally done. The HY purple martin that was found at the Davie roost was peacefully euthanized over the weekend. With a broken shoulder and no hope of rehabilitation he was put down.

Then yesterday on a non purple martin note, one of my gouldian finches was on the verge of death. Egg bound and with her eyes closed, I picked her up off the cage floor and after almost 20 minutes of warm steam, mineral oil and gentle massage, she expelled the egg.  I totally blame myself as I had not been giving her egg shells to eat. Today she is a bit greasy looking but chirping and flying about her cage. I even watched her take a bath.

At the colony here, the purple martins were busy dive bombing a large hawk that was painting lazy circles directly over the housing. I am sure it was on the look out for fledglings. The heat index was well into the hundreds. 110 in some locations and was just miserable. I stayed in and watched from air conditioned comfort.

Fledglings & Hawks

Monday, May 18th, 2009

The fledglings are clambering all over the gourd racks and the house causing a ruckus all day long. The rain has been falling on and off for the last 2 days and they seem to be enjoying the it. All it takes is me stepping on to the back patio and I set them off in a slurry of purple. The flock moves en Mass except for the remaining parents that are still feeding nestlings. More than half of the nests have fledged and my season will be starting to wind down shortly.

The Red Shouldered hawk is persistently attacking the colony and I can only assume that it has been successful, though thankfully I have yet to witness a successful attack. Yesterday I witnessed 3 such attempts that set the purple martin off in an alarming cacophony. I am sure that now having said that, I have jinxed myself and come tomorrow morning I will see the blasted hawk plucking a martin right before my eyes. Please knock on wood!

I have had so many “firsts” this year. First snake attack. First dead nestling on the ground. First pair to actually nest in the gourd hanging on the 5 foot shepherds hook. First nest check with my son. First time broadcasting the webcams. Never mind all the milestones and “firsts” with the website and blog. I already am missing my birds and can’t wait to show them again next year what a wonderful place this is to call home.

©2009 S.Halpin/

Red Shouldered Hawk on the Prowl

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

The Red tailed hawk continues to make half hearted passes at the purple martins but I have yet to actually witness any kills. (knocking on wood frantically)  I have seen the hawk looking for the mockers nests and perched low in branches looking for snakes and what not. Today’s pass at where the mockers are nesting was too close for comfort. Though I do not think he actually found the nest, he was looking and the mockingbird parents were being brave, if not foolish in their attempts to distract the hawk. Pass after pass the mockingbirds dove his head, a small annoyance to the hawk. The hawks gaze was intense and though I am unsure if he actually saw the nest. It could be that he was not interested in eggs and is just keeping up to date with the happenings in the nest. Perhaps he will return when the nestlings are a more satisfying meal. If the neighborhood crow does not get there first.

The martins are doing well and today I saw Chimney Swifts for the first time. I have heard people describe them as flying cigars before, but today I realized what an apt and fitting description that really is. Almost as if the have no tail and wings fluttering faster than a martins, they twittered loudly. The martins flew about not as interested in the swifts as the swifts seemed interested with them. They stayed, flying about for about 3-4 minutes until finally flying off. Not a very attractive call, the twittering reminded me of the clicking of dolphins. But then again, compared to my beloved Purple Martins, no bird sings as sweet.

Close Call #1 of 2009. HAWK!!!

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Copyright: S.Halpin/

Last nights temperatures dipped into the 30’s and all day today the highs did not reach the 60’s. Though these temperatures are not anything to cause concern, South Florida Purple Martins still face thier own set of challenges. Today was a prime example.

The 7+ birds that I estimate are here so far, were subdued and quiet. All morning, till about noon, they sat on the gourd rack with feathers fluffed and wings hanging low. Backs to the sun and beaks to the wind. They seemed to know better than to waste energy foraging for insects that would not be found. Even the Mockingbirds were eating berries off of the Sabal Palms. The Purple Martins are not so lucky to have such an option. So instead they sat, and sat, and waited. Eventually they ventured out but by 4PM they were already making their way back as if giving up in defeat to resume the same posture they had adopted in the morning hours. The few pair bonds that have formed, were huddled close at times. At other times they would enter the gourds together, as if to seek a warmer spot within. Eventually many of them just sat on the gourd rack. Waiting patiently for the day to end and the next challenge in their lives to begin. Little did they know the next challenge would take form of a feathered predator.

Being a typical South Floridian, the temperatures outside curbed my usual observations of my colony. Instead I took up the hunkered over posture that had my husband offering me Geritol. We happened to be talking about the birds and we both looked out just in time to see all the martins fly off in alert mode. A large red-tailed hawk followed in pursuit. Just as fast, I was out the door. Taking on the role of Purple Martin flock member, I ran out into the backyard and saw the hawk land in a tall pine tree next to my property, about 60 feet or so away from the Purple Martin housing. The martins were flying about, yet quiet in their concern, saving energy perhaps? Maybe they were just watching to see what the strange human that ventures so close to them was doing. I could not let them down. They were all watching me. The hawk included. So I did what any red blooded Purple Martin Landlord would do. I ran out to the tree in a clumsy lumbering gait. Semi- disabled by the frigid 56 degree temperatures. Partially twisting my ankle, I ran towards the tree and the hawk flew off in partial disgust, and partial amusement. The martins circled over me. A quiet nod of understanding and new found appreciation, I think I sensed. Then they landed. Backs to the sun and beaks to the wind, feathers fluffed and wings hanging low. Waiting for the next challenge.

May 20, 2008

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Another nest is out and about! I was out with my 2 1/2 year old son. We were walking in the yard and I hear the alarm. Flying low WITHOUT any martin in his talons is a hawk flying away from the housing. Every Martin was in high alert mode. I have never seen so many calling in alarm so loudly; Even with the other attacks I have witnessed. I am sure it had to do with the 14 or so baby martins just learning to fly. All the birds were super vigilant and chased the hawk to a tree across the street. The screaming alerts continued for about 3 minutes until the hawk finally just flew off, in disgust down the street.

The martins seemed to be particularly interested with a very high, sparse pine about 100 yards from the housing, in a neighbors yard. Maybe some are roosting there tonight.

I posted some Purple Martin cartoons on my gallery site. Feel free to check it out.

May 2, 2008

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

2 hawks made their presence known. The martins are on their toes as 15 babies are constantly sticking their heads out. Tomorrow is the official day. The earliest that the Martins can fledge from nest 1,2 and 10. They are noisy and on nest cam they are a curious sort. A comical bunch to watch. One will be napping, one preening, one or two at the entrance, another pecking at the camera. Very cute to watch. Hard to imagine how tiny they were 25 days ago.

Another pair seems to have taken up residence in the gourd that was abandoned. Hopefully that will end well. The ASY male sleeping on the porch is holding his own. I am running the pool till about 12:30 at night to mask any noise the birds make. Hopefully that is keeping the martins from becoming the owl dinner hot spot of Loxahatchee. Of course, my pool guy keeps changing it…humpf.

April 27, 2008

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

A male Starling haunting my Martin’s housing was the beginning of bad omens. A hawk attack this AM heralded more doom. A failed and abandoned nest of 6 eggs is now being investigated by occasional Martins. The Starling flew off with one of the eggs in his yellow beak. I had been watching the gourd hoping beyond hope that maybe I just added the days wrong and just didn’t see the pair returning. Whatever happened to the pair, it’s not happening in that gourd. Probably a hawk got the female. I remember when I checked the nest there was a green leaf on the eggs, like she was going to return shortly. But alas her eggs grew cold and dead and those 6 little babies followed their mommy up to the big bird house in the sky… What a downer.

Then the ASY male. Still sleeping on his porch. Oy, my ulcer…

April 20, 2008

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

female martin & dragonflypurple martin and dragonflyMy Martins are busy and so am I. Both my children are ill and I have been back in the nurse mode. Staying up with my little one, running the humidifier at all hours of the night. My husband rewards me with no guilt trip as I spend hours outside communing with my birds. Yesterday I sat under the housing with my camera and shot about 100 pics. Some really nice, up close shots of the parents bringing all sorts of bugs to hungry mouths. Dragonflies, bees, wasps, and many other unidentifiable by my non-arthropod appreciating eyes. Amazing though, how with beaks full of biting insects, unflinching they pause on gourd rack to inspect me, then enter- nonplussed, to the demands of their lives.

A large hawk (red shouldered-I believe) was making wide circles over head. The Martins were in a frenzy and I was armed with a plastic child’s golf bag. In a death grip, I was waiting the moment that I would wave it madly in the air and advertise to the whole world…,”YES, I am INSANE!!!!”  Luckily, the hawk flew off. That’s showing HIM!