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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Starlings Inspire A Blog Post

I'm having difficulty focusing today with the distraction of a carnival of starlings in my backyard.

They squawk and sing and fight with each other and then take flight anytime I try to go outside to get some better pictures.

At one of the feeders, the one that still has some seed in it, they line up and try to crowd each other out.

I haven't seen this many birds all together in the backyard in quite some time. (See all that snow... For some of my southern gardening friends who wonder how long the snow from Wednesday will be here, you can see from this picture, with snow still on top of the bird feeder four days after the snow storm, that the answer is "a long time".)

Over in the neighbor's garden, the starlings are huddled under a crabapple tree, no doubt picking it clean of any fruit still on it.They are in fact picking at anything that looks like a seed or berry within all the backyards that are within viewing distance of my backyard, the ravenous beasts. Some of them have huddled under a nearby spruce tree for warmth, perhaps also crowding out a bunny or two?

I know I shouldn't laugh at their antics because these aren't the best kinds of birds to attract to your garden. They are noisy and dirty, and fight with other birds, the "good" birds, and drive them away. I shouldn't encourage them!

Last year I was trying to attract birds to my garden, and got some good advice from Mary of Mary's View. (After seeing my pictures, you might also think that I would benefit from some advice from Mary on photographing birds, too.)

She advised me to buy good bird seed, which I did, and before long, I had some nice birds in my garden. The nice birds are just as fun to watch as these old starlings, perhaps better because there is less fighting! But right now, the feeders are full of cheap seed, and you can see how that's worked out.

I still contend that blogging is a lot like feeding the birds. (Hint, follow the link to a post from last January that you might enjoy if you missed it the first time around.) Good stuff attracts a good crowd, cheap stuff attracts, well, a cheap crowd, sort of like a bunch of starlings.

Let me know if you agree.

(P.S. The entire time I was writing this post, the starlings were loudly playing in my back yard, and now suddenly, all is quiet. They've left. Where have they gone? Will they be back? I'm going out the front door to get the mail. Send a search party for me if you don't hear from me in awhile. They might be out in front, waiting for me. After all, I called them "dirty birds"...)

23 comments:

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Shades of Alfred Hitchcock, I'd be scared all right. That's a huge crowd of cheap birds. I would hope that your theory of blogging is correct. I try to put out the good stuff and keep it coming. I'm surprised about how much I come up with to write about in winter.
BTW, we've had continous snowcover since January 7.

MA said...

I got friends in low places.....

I know I am not supposed to like starlings but their speckled feather coats are lovely and they are LIVELY. Call me cheeeeeep.

jodi said...

A carnival of starlings? What a great description, although I would rather call THEM a murder than crows, because I could happily murder starlings but I love crows.
So far, we only have five starlings here, Carol. I'm hoping the hordes don't descend or I WILL get out the shotgun. (looking very fierce!)

Raymonty said...

Interesting birds in your backyard. I have a large rabbit hopping around and I am trying to get a picture of him.

Grace Peterson said...

We've got a lot of starlings this year too. I love how they congregate and flock together. Come to think of it, I might be a starling of the human kind. I like cheap and I've got no fancy feathers. :-)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Yes Carol, it looks like you have a herd of starling in your garden. The poor things are just hungry. They are lively beasts. I like to see them out in the country better than in the garden. We have had a few but the Cooper's Hawk drove them out of the garden.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I'm very tired of the starlings. They have completely taken over. That's about all I've had to take pictures of the last few days. They are getting so bold and brazen that they come to the feeder while I'm outside. Nasty, nasty birds.

Darla said...

I am not a fan of these birds, your photos are great though.

Mary said...

I guess everyone has their share of the dirty, noisy, fighting birds. Starlings hate me. I only have a few right now and they chow down like there's no tomorrow but as soon as I open the sliding door, they scram. They know I hate them, too.

There's no solution except to fire shots for a few weeks but it's against the law, I guess.

Good luck, Carol. When the snow is gone, they'll head back to the open fields and find some farmers to torment.

Mary

Kathy said...

I can definitely see that starlings are not the prettiest of birds, but what makes people hate them? Should only the pretty ones be allowed to live? If so, I think I'm in trouble.

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Thank goodness we do not have many here. I saw two today at the feeder and snapped a picture. Hopefully they are the only ones around. It does sort of remind you of the movie "Birds" :-)
Lona

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

All I have are sparrows. I don't think I have ever seen a starling. There were some noisy nasty grackles around last week. Thankfully, they left pretty fast.

Diana said...

Cheap seed or not, you're a good soul to keep feeding them all when I know you have to trek out and brave the elements. We received email photos this morning of the farm in the snow - boy - there sure is a lot of it. We don't really have starlings here, but our "trash" birds are grackles. Hideous things, they. And, I have to admit I'm like Tippy Hedren -- I think too many of any of them is just plain creepy!

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

That is a lot of starlings. I always dread seeing them, that they'll become "regulars" but they always seem to come through for a day, and then disappear for months. Maybe I have better seed than I thought.

Pam/Digging said...

They're kind of like grackles, I suppose. I like the individual grackle alright, with its glossy blue-black feathers and inquisitive eye, but a group is a messy, loud nuisance.

Carol said...

Hi, all. Thanks for the great comments. I made it safely back inside. It's night time, all is quiet, but I wonder if the birds will be back tomorrow? We'll know soon enough...

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

EAL said...

We have a bunch of birds making noise in the wisteria, but I can't stand being outside long enough to see what they are!

Roses and stuff said...

I love to have birds around the garden, but I must admit it's nicer to have a mixture of birds at your feeders, but I don't know how to achieve that... After all, what's a bird to do when it's hungry and there's no food around?
Katarina

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

I like your analogy. I think flashy, not thought-out writing might attract a big noisy crowd...but it might not be the crowd you want. I prefer the single, rare and discerning bird.

This post just reminded me of something. Back in high school we used to have a term for people who hung around the popular people hoping some popularity would rub off on them--flockers. In the last year, I've seen quite a rise of flockers in the gardening blogosphere. They're the people who leave a comment and then get all huffy if you don't link to them. They stop by to say "Nice photo." or "Good post" not because they're interested in any real dialog with you but because they're trying to drum up a following for themselves. Yep. Flockers.

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

I haven't seen many starlings in my new town since I moved here (Charleston, IL) a year and a half ago from the city of St. Louis.

When l lived in St. Louis, starlings would frequently come to our backyard every other day or so. From what I've read, they have become more populous in metro areas than smaller towns like mine.

At least I hope.

Hostabuff, Zone 6a said...

Don't you just love those little black birds flitting through the sky like a wave, only to blanket their landing site and then take to the skies in mass again. I'm always distracted by this sight!

Margo said...

I have to admit, I haven't been bothered by starlings lately, and have been missing them. Then again, I enjoy watching them cackle and scold while they bathe in the gutters and puddles outside my window. In that context, they're cheerful, exuberant and singing. But you're right - they're capable of devastation when they're in the mood.

Vetsy said...

Carol I like this post I can relate and I think it's very funny!

I too had to learn what seeds to buy if I wanted to attract the desirable birds like Nuthatch, Titmouse, wood peckers, Finches, and Chickadee's

The starlings and Sparrows were the problem in my case because they would chase and crowd out the other birds.