Turf Wars, Songbird-Style

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NASHVILLE — I became ingesting lunch on our the front stoop remaining week when a flock of European starlings descended abruptly, overlaying our backyard in a commotion of strutting and whistling and choosing and whirring. The spring wildflowers had been all bloomed out, nothing left but greenery, so my husband had mowed the meadow in front of our house into a few semblances of a suburban garden. A freshly mowed yard approach fewer locations for insects to hide, and the starlings were given busy gleaning and digging.Songbird-Style I am no fan of European starlings. I would love European starlings just pleasant if they had stayed in Europe. However, some foolish Shakespeare aficionados decided to introduce each bird ever referred to in Shakespeare into this united states, released a hundred starlings in New York City’s Central Park at some stage in the nineteenth century. The more than two hundred million starlings in North America nowadays descended from those first one hundred birds. Starlings compete for nesting cavities with native cavity-dwellers: bluebirds and tree swallows, woodpeckers and chickadees, timber ducks, and tufted titmice. There’s a couple of nesting in a woodpecker’s hollow in a tree in the front of my neighbor’s house and 3 pairs nesting inside the hole window frames of any other neighbor’s house. Every time I skip with the aid of them, I glower out of nothing but an old habit. 2003 take a look at disputed long-held assumptions that starlings displace native birds. “Only sapsuckers showed declines due to starlings,” consistent with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; “different species regarded to be preserving their own towards the invaders.” But long-held assumptions are hard habits to interrupt, and I actually have in no way warmed to these gregarious birds.

The bluebirds which have chosen the nest box in our front backyard share my dislike. The male bluebird installation an angry clicking from his perch in a close-by maple as quickly as the flock landed in our backyard, and while considered one of them had the nerve to look into the nest-container hollow — which is, by layout, too small to confess a starling — he immediately dived at the intruder’s head, startling it so thoroughly that it fell to the floor before it may stop its headlong tumble and fly away.

The relaxation of the starlings was unperturbed using this spectacle. However, the woman bluebird within the field became attracted to the fray, peeking out of the hollow of the nest box as her mate staged unceasing guerrilla raids at the intruders from a low-putting department in his lookout tree. As soon as a starling bent to stab its invoice into the soil, the male bluebird hit it inside the head from above and became gone again earlier than it could discern the source of its torment. Divebombing one starling after another, the bluebird carried on his relentless territorial campaign. Finally, the starlings lifted as one and disappeared into the sky through no signal that I should discern. The bluebird, badly outnumbered through larger birds, had efficiently driven all of them away.

Matters usually get stressful for the duration of the nesting season. “The sunrise chorus” is what we call the springtime tune that fills the trees at morning time this time of year; however, it’s miles, not anything like a human refrain. Birds sing to draw a mate, and they sing to set up a territory. And that territorialism is lethal serious. While the bluebird was effectively repelling the flock of starlings, I later determined that a tiny house wren became pulling all of the moss and speckled eggs out of the nest container on the other aspect of the house. Instead of a chickadee’s mossy nest, that box now holds a residence wren’s nest of sticks. Audubon still lists Tennessee as an unusual breeding territory for residence wrens, but they have got nested in our yard for a minimum of 5 years. Every yr they wreak havoc on the chickadees, and often at the bluebirds, too.

I can hardly fault them for doing precisely what the bluebirds are doing: staking out a declare and defending it against encroachers. I tell myself, too, not to fault the pink-bellied woodpecker, which this yr has taken an inexplicable interest in my safflower feeder, for driving away from the rose-breasted grosbeaks which have eventually arrived here on their long migration north. I await the grosbeaks each spring, and I purchase that highly-priced safflower seed for 2 motives: 1) starlings don’t like it, and 2) grosbeaks do. And now, this livid woodpecker maintains riding them away.


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