Friday, January 18, 2008

Starlings En Masse

Today has been one of those days when I wonder why I even bother feeding the birds. Yesterday I made the Zick dough that birds are supposed to love. Well, guess what birds came for the dough? Starlings, hundreds of starlings, all fighting over the dough and the store bought suet.

Literally, hundreds of starlings descended on Robin's Nesting Place today and I spent a large portion of the day going outside to shoo them away from my feeders. Starlings are so loud and obnoxious when they are fighting over food and with so many of them attempting to get to the feeders and the special dough it was very loud and annoying.

When I would shoo them away they would go just far enough away, watch me go back into the house and then right back they came.

It did look funny to see them perched along the rooftops of my neighbor's houses watching me. I finally got tired of the battle and removed the four feeders that had the dough and suet. They were quite confused for a while when they couldn't find their food.

I don't usually see the mourning doves in the winter unless there's snow on the ground, but there were several here this morning.

They all had something white on their backs and tails. When I zoomed in closer while editing my pictures I saw clearly that it was ice crystals. There was no frost on the ground when I saw them and we didn't have any snow or ice on the ground either. I thought that was a bit odd.

Yesterday, I was sitting at the table with a little friend in my lap, (I've been babysitting this week), and I saw this Cooper's hawk fly into my backyard. Thankfully, I had my camera on the table. It was a little difficult getting pictures while sitting down with little hands grabbing for the camera.

Usually, the Cooper hawks just swoop by the feeders once and leave, and only once have I actually seen them catch something. This one was obviously more hungry than they usual are. It went into the spruce tree, which is shelter of choice for the sparrows.

Then it walked through my corner flower bed intensely searching for hiding birds.

I was surprised at how long it actually stayed on the ground. After all that searching it went away with empty talons. Too bad it didn't come back today, it could have had its choice of starlings.

Early yesterday morning it was frigid outside, this little downy woodpecker stayed in the same spot for so long that I was beginning to wonder if it was alright. I even went outside to the patio to get closer look and it didn't budge. After quite some time passed another downy came to the suet feeder and this one flew to another tree.

Well, those are my bird adventures for this week. Hopefully, the starlings will move on and I can actually get some birds with nicer manners to enjoy my Zick dough.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

It is discouraging when the Starlings come in and take over feeders. Hopefully the racket will draw the Cooper's attention next time and it will shoo them away.

Kerri said...

Those are great pictures of the hawk. Yes, starlings are a pain. We get more closer to spring than now.
The morning doves are so pretty, aren't they?
I love the chickadees for their friendly boldness. We have lots of them this year (black capped). And tufted titmice, which is a relative of theirs. Plenty of downys and hairy woodys too, blue jays, nuthatches, juncos, goldfinches, purple and house finches, and of course, sparrows. Cardinals are around, but they don't come to the feeders very often.
I was reading what you said about discovering the little details since taking up photography. Me too! It's amazing what we missed before, isn't it? Nature is so fascinating!
Your bird pictures are wonderful!

Carol said...

I really enjoyed your post. I hope I don't end up with a bunch of starlings at my one little feeder! I know they have a lot of trouble with them around Monument Circle downtown, and resort to shooting off firecrackers and other noise makers to try to chase them away. I guess you can't do that in your neighborhood; I couldn't in mine.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

vonlafin said...

You sure take great pictures! I would not miss the starlings or the common sparrows if they stayed away from my feeders...and it probably would cost a lot less for seed.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Starlings can be quite a pest with their loud noises, their fighting and naughtyness.

It's great to see that the Cooper's Hawk came for another visit. It's turning into a regular guest at Robin's Nesting Place. Hopefully it did catch something to eat somewhere else.

The mourning doves are very pretty and gentle too. You can become quite attached to them. ;-)

Jayne said...

Oh my Robin! I hate that your first takers were unwelcome guests. Maybe try again in a few days when they have moved on? Love the Cooper's shots!

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Lisa, if the Cooper came today it had its fill of starlings, I'm sure.

Kerri, thank you. I love chickadees too. Seeing the little details is what makes nature photography so enjoyable for me.

Carol, I hope you don't end up with starling either. They don't really bother my seed feeders, but they love suet and peanut butter. You should be fine as long as you don't add those to the menu.
Firecrackers would be a fun way to disperse the starlings.

Thank you, Vonlafin. I would be happy if I never saw another starling or house sparrow. They do eat so much food.

Yolanda Elizabet, yes, the Cooper is becoming a regular visitor here. I love seeing it, and since I mostly have sparrows and starlings right now, it is a most welcome guest.

Jayne, I know, I was disappointed too. You have so many wonderful birds at your place and you were also the inspiration to make the Zick dough. Maybe the starlings will move on, but boy do they ever love peanut butter.

Sue Swift said...

In defence of starlings - yes, they're noisy but so what? They need to eat too. And the sheen on their feathers is beautiful - I bet if they came one at a time you'd love to have them.

I love them, especially in the autumn when millions of them mas here for their winter migration. Why do they always go for the area of the station? One theory says they follow the railway lines south. I wonder ...

Mary said...

Robin, your photos are wonderful. The Mourning Dove photos are sweet. I wonder what's the story with the frost on their backs?

Regarding your Starlings, you know I understand. I cut back on Zick dough a bit but they still want the nuts. Very frustrating :o)

School for Us said...

Wow! Now that's a lot of sparrows! And, we, too have had a hawk visitor! It showed up 3 days ago and has been by every day since. It might be a Cooper's Hawk, but I'm not sure. You can check it out at my blog: I am very thankful that he/she didn't find anything to eat at my house!

Kylee said...

I'll tell you what, Robin. You have the most fabulous bird pictures I've ever seen. I just love coming here and seeing new ones. I love looking at the older ones again, too. Thanks for sharing them!

Frances said...

What fabulous photos of birds you are able to take. How do you take the picture while inside the house? You must have really clean windows and a great camera and know how to take a wonderful pic.