Thursday, January 18, 2007

Overrun by Starlings

In the last month, the Colvin Run Habitat has become overrun by a flock (that is, a very large flock) of European Starlings. They are aggressive birds that run the native, resident Habitat birds away from the suet and seed feeders and the bird bath. These starlings are consuming so much seed and suet that it is stretching my bird food budget.

These three photos include a red-bellied woodpecker with an arriving starling. This woodpecker is slightly larger than the starling and usually moves other birds from the feeder if for no other reason than his size. In the first photo, you can see the woodpecker squawking even before the starling has landed. In the second, the woodpecker remains upset by the arrival of the starling. In the final photo, the woodpecker has yielded the suet feeder to the starling.

The funny thing is that these starlings are imported European birds released in New York City – if only they had stayed in Central Park: Conditioned by centuries of living in settled areas in Europe, this species easily adapted to American cities after 100 birds were liberated in Central Park, New York City, in 1890. Since then it has spread over most of the continent…Hordes of these birds create much noise, damage vegetable or fruit crops, and do considerable damage around feedlots, consuming and fouling the feed of domestic cattle, and have proved difficult to drive away. Starlings compete with native hole-nesters for woodpecker holes and natural cavities. (from eNature)

The eNature site also offers a story titled Bully Starlings Usually Win.

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