Friday, February 20, 2009

Bird Fight, Flight & Feathers

FYI: Very cool story alert that I got from Yahoo News on my sidebard. A NYT story on people helping Whooping Cranes migrate. AWESOME STORY! Cool Bird Story

Today was the day that old man winter decided to come back and remind me spring is still a little while away. The wind blew fiercely as I went about filling up the feeders. I knew it was going to be one of those days when I looked over at my neighbors tree and saw about 50 starlings on it and eye balling my feeders. With no will to fight them, I went back indoors and decided to watch

The starlings came and the feathers flew. They love my suet and will fight to the death to get a piece of it. The picture above is a good example of the type of war fare the starlings are capable of in my peaceful back yard. The others perch upon the green fencing directly behind the suet feeder. I put that up as a deterrent to neighborhood cats getting to the birds. I have the regular fencing up there too and wanted to get rid of the green wiring but it is frozen solid into the ground!! It looks like I am stuck with the convenient perching spot for the starlings for the time being.

While this goes on the other birds watch along with me. I often wonder what they think of the fighting and the starlings in general. Do the starlings annoy them just as much as they do me? I am guessing the answer is yes.

Finally this little goldfinch is brave enough to fly to the Nyjer feeder for a little breakfast. I have to laugh seeing all of the finches on the tube feeder. They will take a little nibble of their meal and then turn their heads to watch the fighting. The gold finches make me smile every time I see them. They are such optimistic birds with their subdued mannerisms and cheerful call.

The junco watches too and is a little hesitant to go join the others in his flock who are directly below the starlings. The juncos know with all of that fighting, that suet crumbs will fall to the ground for a convenient meal.

The mockingbird on the other hand could care less what the starlings are doing. It goes about its business and has recently discovered my bird bath. If the starlings do decide to give this bird an attitude, he is a force to be reckoned with and will fight right back. He didn't want any part of that today though and spent most of the afternoon with his lady friend on my privet tree.

The woodpecker watches and is obviously annoyed that the starlings have decided to hijack her favorite suet feeder. She waits patiently for her turn and nibbles on peanuts in the coconut feeder instead.

Tomorrow will be worse. The starlings are at their most obnoxious right before a snow storm. They remind me of the folks you see at the grocery store stocking up on bread, eggs and milk before the first flake falls. We are expecting snow this weekend and the starlings will know this and take over my yard. This is why I will be birding elsewhere. Time to make more suet I guess.

Does anyone know when starling flocks start thinning out some? Right now a flock of 10 of these birds would be like heaven to me. I cannot handle the amount I am getting right about now. Spring cannot come soon enough for me.


Betsy Banks Adams said...

Aw--Starlings... Glad we haven't seen any around here in awhile. BUT--we still have a TON of Pine Siskins. I did read that they are winter visitors only here. GOSH--I hope so. My other birds are getting cheated...

Hope you have a good weekend. Stay DRY and WARM.

Kelly said... are so right about those starlings. They swarmed in today and scarfed everything up, and snow is now predicted for tomorrow! Great pic of the fight...and of the sweet, gentle goldfinch. Fun post!

Shelley said...

Kallen - it looks like in the first photo the starling is delivering a karate kick to the other one - lol! Great photo! The downy and goldfinches were sweet! I'm not sure if I already told you - but last summer to dissuade the Starlings - we pelted them w/ our beebee gun (it didn't kill them - they were the plastic pellet kind that just startled them.) They learned pretty quickly and left our yard. I didn't feel bad doing it cuz starlings are so invasive and prevent other birds from nesting and eating.
Bad Shelley

Kim said...

Betsy, you still have the siskin invasion? I bet they will be heading up north very soon and then all of your other birds will have a chance at the feeder again.

Kelly, I am glad i'm not the only one who has noticed this. I am telling you they drive me crazy right before a storm!

Shelley, I don't think you are at all bad for pelting the starlings. They are one of the biggest reasons why out native birds are declining every year. I couldn't do it myself because I would have to open my window to do so. This would cause one of my house cats to escape, panic because it's never been outside and run and hid which would cause me to panic and try to find it! HA! I have thought of getting a squirt gun and using that because I could do it through the screen with no chance of a cat escaping.

Anonymous said...

I don't see starlings here but where I grew up, there were hundreds that would descend upon us. The goldfinch picture is cute. Nalley's mom is nearly 90, and she just swears that they are canaries!!!!! The goldfinches here love the black-eyed Susans at the end of every summer. The plants just sway back & forth from the weight of the birds.

Ruth said...

Great pictures! I have never had starlings at my feeders and they are in the area. My suet must be second rate!

Anonymous said...

A couple of my 'snarlings' were back as it was a pretty heavy snow and cold temps...brrrrrr... Michelle

emarkd said...

The Starlings will occasionally take over my suet and peanut butter feed stations as well, but I don't use plastic pellets in my BB gun. It doesn't bother me to take out a few Starlings, but I do hate to do it because the noise startles every bird in the yard. It's like a Hitchcock scene when I pull the trigger.

And Betsy, we're also still covered up with Siskins here in West Georgia. Their consumption of thistle seed is up to about 15 lbs a week. I've enjoyed them but I'm ready to see them go.

Mary said...

Looks like you had a lot of activity even with the starlings. I'm always thankful that the large groups of starlings only visit during the worst weather and most of the time stay in the fields. I think the little goldfinches are the most uneffected by everything around them. As long as they can find a thistle sack or a free perch they just sit and eat and ignore everybody else!

Rich said...

That is a great story about the cranes. Pictures are great too. Just a great blog.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thank goodness we don't have any Starlings. But we still have tons of Pine Siskins. Same battles, just smaller opponents. Great pictures.

Jayne said...

Knocking on wood before I even type any further.... I have not had a problem with them here thankfully, but I know they can be such a nuisance.

troutbirder said...

My... so much for peace on earth good will to all birds. Fortunately we rarely see starling here in our woods.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE your analogy of Starlings being like the crazy storm shoppers. Perfect!

Anonymous said...

Love the shot of the Starlings fighting Kim. I am lucky (knock on wood) I don't have that problem.

You might want to try Starling resistant suet feeders. I put up an upside down suet feeder that pretty much keeps the Jays from using it, only allowing clinging birds to feed (like woodpeckers and nuthatches).

There are also caged suet feeders that wouldn't allow birds as large as Starlings access.

Great captures of the Goldfinch and the Downy too!

Leedra said...

I agree with Betsy, glad they aren't at my house. The Goldfinch is so cute. I am surprised the Mockingbird didn't just run them off.

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