Thursday, March 13, 2008

Avian Junk

[Bird Brains] Fighting what feels like round 3 of the later winter flu, I'm working at home today. I have a laptop at the kitchen counter, where I can perch on a bar stool at a window and watch avian gymnastics at three different bird feeders.

Damn. In the past few days, the big-assed bully starlings (at left) have discovered the suet block that hangs from the cherry tree. I'd counted our yard as fortunate because, though I see starlings by the hundreds in trees around the neighborhood, they had yet to figure out we had a plentiful food source. Now they know.

The "woodpecker treat" suet block used to be just that--attractive to downy woodpeckers and the occasional black-capped chickadee. Now those starlings have turned it into their own private Chuck-a-Rama. They've scared every other bird away and are attacking the suet three birds at a time.

Except for the resident red-shafted flicker (member of the woodpecker family, pictured below, right), who at this very moment is hanging upside down from the suet block and eating like there's no tomorrow. He's a gorgeous male with the characteristic red head and mustache and red flashing from the underwing. And he's huge--about eight inches high. A few minutes ago, the flicker was down but not out. He kicked ass, chased off a half-dozen starlings and for now, is holding his own in the cherry tree.

He isn't giving up. I would call him the Hillary Clinton of the backyard bird world.

Does anyone know how to get rid of starlings? Without violence, of course. (Holly


  1. You could hide M80 in the tre...oh wait. Without violence...

  2. My grandmother would use a shotgun. It was hopeless.

  3. Of course. Check out Bird-X, Inc. based in Chicago, IL. They specialize in a large variety of bird deterrent products that are safe for both the birds and the environment.

  4. Thanks Kathleen, I'll check out that site. My husband tells me even the voracious starlings are "all God's creatures," but I'm beginning to wonder.


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