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Friday, July 8, 2011

The Birder's Bane: #6 - European Starling; Philadelphia, PA

Some birds you just have to get out of the way. You see them everywhere, you have them on your life list, but you don’t really like or appreciate them. This is one of those birds. And I hate them.

Yep, I’m going on record as saying it. I hate European Starlings.

Sure they may be nicer in Europe, where they’re, you know, actually from. But ‘round these parts they’re a pest, an introduced species that’s spread like the plague and is starting to affect species that have fought hard and evolve to survive in our country’s ecosystems. Purple Martins are good examples of this. They no longer nest in natural cavities because they’ve been kicked out by nesting Starlings; now they live almost exclusively in man-made structures. The same thing is starting to happen in Arizona where Gila Woodpecker cavities in saguaro cacti are being used by aggressive Starlings. And that’s just part one of the problem.

Part two shows up while you’re out birding, and can occur almost anywhere. You hear a weird sound, a song or a call, and start frantically searching for the bird in question. You see it, up on the powerline, and it’s… it’s… a Starling? Damn it. But wait, you see some movement in the corner of your eye, follow it with your binoculars, and… ANOTHER DANG STARLING. Jesus! Those things are everywhere!

European Starling - Independence Square, PA; 05/15/2010

Anyway, like I said last time, James and I were up in Philly for our other brother’s college graduation, and we stopped by Independence Square in Philadelphia. Mostly pigeons and pigeon-crap everywhere, but also a ton of Starlings too. We found this guy eating a worm, and surprisingly, it’s remained our best photo of a European Starling. Not because we haven’t seen any as close or anything, but mostly because we haven’t bothered. As I said before… those things are everywhere!

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