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Are Starlings Feeder Pests
January 16, 2017

We actually had a few peaks of the sun this past week.

We even had a clear sky to checkout the full moon this past Thursday.

Miss Penny went into her first Estrus (heat) a couple weeks ago.

At five months, this is a bit unusual.

She came home Saturday a new kitty (minus some parts).

All is well with the fur kids, as Snickers has her little friend once again.

(Check out that adorable face as she gets a few licks from Miss Penny.)

Miss Penny ans Snickers have a special relationship for sure.

You will also find a rare picture at the bottom of Akita and Miss Penny Sleeping together.

As a rule, Keet (miss Diva), wont give kitty the time of day.

For the past three weeks now the weather roller coaster has been in full swing.

Cold and snow, Warmer and rain (with a lightening bolt and clap of thunder as well).

And more of the same.

(A Fox sparrow, winter visitor.)

I want snow.

We need snow.


What started out s a nice, good old fashion winter is now one of abnormalcy.

Mid January, no snow on the ground and the thermometer is promising to tickle 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 C.) by this coming weekend.

I suppose when I was having to drive back and forth to work I would appreciate a mid winter break.

Now that I don't have to get out if I don't want to, I don't mind a cold and snowy winter.

Yes I get out M-F to take Yolanda to Hope Network, but I don't have to if i don't want to.

If you live in what is typically snow country, you know temperatures drop below freezing a vast majority of the winter.

Dormant plants appreciate a good blanket of snow for insulation (protection) from the temperatures.

When temperatures fluctuate too much, plants break dormancy.

Breaking dormancy, plant life begins to awaken.

Buds and crowns swell as juices flow.


Temperatures drop and swollen buds and crowns freeze.

Cell structure explodes as plant juice expands.

(Miss Penny Checking things out.) Destroying and killing cells.

For some plants it doesn't take much.

For other maybe a few freeze and thaws to take place.

I have lost many, many plants to upheaval and freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw.

Yes, we need the cold and snow to help our gardens.

It is a violent act, if it were possible for you to see.

Have you ever left a full can or bottle of something in your freezer?

Only to discover a big mess later on.

Now picture plant cells as they refreeze.

Just when I thought I wasn't going to be long winded this week.

Those pest starlings.


European Starlings

They descend on your neighborhood by the thousands.

Your yard is peppered with hundreds of European starlings.

Maybe just a few dozen of the aggressive birds appear.

This can happen.

Few people like starlings.

But disdain of the species may be tempered if your are armed with some knowledge of its biology.

Take, for example, its bill.

The European starling has jaw muscles that work "backward." Instead of using most of their power to clamp the bill shut, these muscles use it to spring the bill open.

Thus the bill functions not just to grip prey but also to pry apart obscuring plants.

The closed bill is inserted between blades of grass in thick turf or other cover, and then sprung open to expose hidden prey.

As the bill opens, the eyes move forward toward each other, permitting binocular vision.

This readily observed foraging technique enables the starling to detect not only active prey but also dormant or stationary prey, as well.

William Beecher, who made this discovery during a seven-year study of songbird head musculature and skull adaptations, suggests that this unique hunting maneuver was also key to the high rate of survival of starlings during winter.

If you have ever walked, or checked out an area recently visited by a flock of starlings you obviously notice the disrupted area.

The strength of the bill is in opening, removing grass and ground debris as it looks for food.

If you look at the bill shape and size, you can notice how different it is from our native songbirds.

Because the bill is weaker in closing, the starling is unable to crack open hard shelled seeds like sunflower, safflower and some millets.

The easiest and best way to keep starlings from invading your feeding stations is to off nothing but hard shelled seeds.

I do have a peanut feeder and a suet feeder that get attacked from time to time, but the main feeders and feeding area is nothing but Black Oil sunflower Seed.

Oilers are enjoyed by most of our songbirds.

Jays, woodpeckers, doves, chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, tufted titmouse, various sparrows (including Juncos), the various finches, plus a few species I haven't mentioned.

If you must feed the starlings because they too are God's creatures, toss a handful of cracked corn elsewhere for the starlings to graze.

House sparrows have adapted and learn to eat most anything over time.

Pigeons (Rock doves) will graze on all of your feeder offerings as well.

For pigeons, it it best to have feeders where they can't perch.

Small tube feeders, feeders with cages.

Possibly build your own contraption where smaller birds have access, but larger pigeons don't.

Pigeons aren't an issue for me.

Sparrows and Starlings can be.

Black oil sunflower seed is really all you need to have a happy bird population.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

“A lot of dreams don't come true in life.

If you can make somebody's dream come true, you should.”

Jameer Nelson (Pro Basketball Player)

Follow the way of the Lord my friends.

It is pleasant to see dreams come true,

but fools refuse to turn from evil to attain them.

Proverbs 13: 9

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb.

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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