The Namesake

So what are the starlings doing now? I have neglected the namesake in favor of the show of color and sound. The birds have not left, everyone I run into is still trying to figure out how not to feed them or encourage the party-like atmosphere that ensues every time starlings get together. A bar fight usually is the end result.

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But what is really going on behind the scenes. One guy told me how the starlings used to make a point of removing the trash from their nest, a ┬ásmall white bundle tied with a string, and promptly dropping it into his father’s clean, sanitized pool. This went on and on. Trees were removed and shots were fired; strong, strong words were passed . The birds relocated but the bundles always found their way back into the wet waste fill. Waging war on nature never goes well.

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The starling female is persistent. She has no compunction about laying eggs in another nest if she hasn’t found a mate yet. A matter of pride and biology takes over as the weather screams ‘Now!’. She will sneak into some one’s home site, and deposit one, maybe two of her own bundles of joy then scuttle back out again as if she had just been adjusting the drapes.

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As for the male; I think he is a good guy in general. He chooses the nesting site and builds it up, then he finds a mate. She will take out half of what he did, (sound familiar?) and revamp things to her liking adding feathers and grasses. They both sit on the eggs, feed the little ones, clean the nest. The male, in particular, has a harder time letting go and often will hang around longer with the awkward juveniles, probably telling them stories about the time he took down a hawk.

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Family life is important to starlings which is the reason a lot of ┬ápeople have a hard time putting up with the the birds in their yard. When you invite one to have a nibble, you often get twenty; and every bird has an opinion that can not be staunched. If we could only understand what they were saying, maybe we would be more tolerant. Starlings are amazing mimics; they can learn other bird’s calls, as well as the sounds of machinery. I have met a woman who is teaching a starling to talk and will soon arrange lectures for him so the bird can make his case in front of audiences. Finally, the truth come out.

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Starlings are from an old family and a very large genius of birds so they are not going away anytime soon for all those people that just don’t appreciate the bird. And, I submit, thank goodness for that as we had enough loss in the avian world with rumors of more to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Up With Nature

I have been captivated. It happens every year at this time. I feel as if I am holding my breathe as nature spreads out her blanket all around me. I stop and watch, is that enough of an excuse for neglecting this blog?

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Spring tells us that everything is possible and that we must try once again to do the things we began to doubt we could do. Run that race, hike that trail, put in that garden, pedal along the outline of the lake. Imagine that; nature’s biggest creatures are imitating all of the others as they go about the business of basic survival.

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A busy feeder attracts more and more birds. Simple and yet the secret to seeing the most possible species that are in the area. I speak with many kind, yet frustrated people who would rather not feed this bird or that bird due to the habits and character of the species. To an extent one can affect this by choosing certain seed selections. But in general, lots of activity will bring more  variety of birds for you to see. Often the Starlings and Grackles provide the flock numbers seen from the sky for the migrating birds to know there is food below. Birds that are new or migrating, are much more skittish, and it helps to blend in with a flock of other birds eating, using the warning call of the Blue Jay when a hawk is around is a benefit for all the birds.

The young squirrels have traveled down from the nests to begin learning life on land. I watched a little one endure a cold heavy rain, his/her meager tail like a cheap umbrella, all I could think was that the little guy wished to be back in the warm nest.

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We shall all overdose on color in the coming weeks but it has started so subtly so to gently work us up into it. Maybe that is why the male hummingbirds came and went so quickly, glancing around, deciding we just were not ready and flying north. (As if the north part of the state will be more conducive, I snort) But, no matter, there are Orioles, Red Breasted Grosbeak, Warblers, Brown Thrashers, Flocks of Migrating Blue Jays- all of these birds have added to our yellow Goldfinches, red Cardinals, rose House finches, purple Finches, Blue Jays, black Starlings and Grackles. I am forgetting all of the smaller subtly colored birds.

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Happy spring and happy watching as there is so much to see as you are frantically trying to keep up with nature.