I feel cursed. I started with four white homers 3 years ago. It had seemed as if every time I got to 5 birds, I'd lose a few and be back to two or three. So the new babies were just keeping up with my losses. Here's an example. I had a breeding pair, two month old squeakers, and three younger birds who had been flying free but hadn't done a release. I left all the oldsters out around five miles from home. All came home in good time (before I did). The old hen went back into the loft to tend her squeakers. Her mate and three youngsters went out for another fly around. I found feathers nearby that seem to be a hawk hit. An afternoon storm rolled through and the 3 youngsters never made it back to the loft.) This is my worst loss ever. Usually it's a disappeared bird after an afternoon flight. Rarely a bird doesn't make it home from a longer release (20 miles or so). ------------- I have decided that maybe my problem is size of flock. Last week I added 8 young birds from two other lofts (total now of 11 birds - one old hen, two squeakers, and 8 young birds.) I am trying a different training regimen. Rather than waiting until they are strong flyers to avoid hawks, I am using the 'roof sitting' strategy. All the birds can fly well enough to get up to high perches. My loft opens into a 'courtyard' with a roof, carport, covered area with a perching area they love, and cedar hedge. For the last two days I have let them out and they have gotten markedly better at flying just moving between the roosts and the ground. They followed the old hen back into the loft both evenings. (She returned earlier than they did, but I could take her out and release her, she'd go in, they'd follow. They got better each day.) I am whistle training them and removing food several hours before they go out. I always release in the late afternoon - hawks our definitely worse in our area in the morning. They're gone by midday. I have food available on their return. ------------------ Any other suggestions? Does this strategy make sense? I find these monthly losses discouraging. I don't want a big loft - I had originally wanted a flock of 8. Now I'm hoping for perhaps 16 maximum. ---------------- I would also really like some suggestions for building a good perching area for the birds. We have a wide overhanging roof and they perch on our drain spout. It's great hawk cover and out of the weather as well. But I'd like something not metal for their feet.