Sunday, July 03, 2011

Starling Surpise

My Purple Martin House this morning - after

A few days ago we discovered that there was a starling nest in our Purple Martin house.  How we discovered this fact was that Bill happened to be looking at the Purple Martin house through his binoculars and noticed that some big baby birds were having trouble getting out of the narrow opening that is in our Purple Martin house  Those narrow openings are there for a keep out big birds like starlings!

After the baby starlings flew the coop - I check the damage

The last couple of years we've had a Sparrow Problem with those aggressive, killer, non-native birds nesting in our Purple Martin house.  I lost count of the number of time I tore out their nests and threw their brown speckled eggs in the adjoining cornfield.  Oh I know, I know.  How could I be so cruel?  I didn't always used to be this way but after a few dead blue birds and swallows, my view of the "cute" sparrow changed.  This year we didn't have any problem with the sparrows.  Apparently the world got out in Sparrow Land that they weren't welcomed here.

I begin the clean out - what a mess!

So this year I thought we were all find and dandy in our backyard habitat with one nesting of baby bluebirds already raised and out in the world.  The bluebirds have second set of blue bluebird  in another bluebird house, the swallows having taken over the original bluebird house.

Oh yeah, I'm loving this!

We have seen many new Purple Martins leave their apartment nest in the Purple Martin house but Bill's sighting a few days ago caused him some concern.  When we did determine that it was indeed starlings in the nest we were wondering how they were going to get out of that small opening.  The past couple of days it seemed like they were stuck.

So we decided this morning to lower the Purple Martin house and see what was going on.  Oh don't worry, I wasn't going to destroy the young starlings.  Once the birds hatch (sparrows included), I leave them alone.  I don't kill live birds although that's probably what I should do.  I'm not that hard...yet.

We thought the young starlings were to big to get through the opening.  I decided to open the front of the apartment and see if that was the problem.  Well, much to my surprise when I opened the apartment there were FIVE BABY STARLINGS!  They were crouched in the back of the apartment, on top of one another, terrified.  I looked at them and they looked at me.  Then one....two.....three....and four flew out of the apartment and into the open air.  There was one baby starling left.  He/she eyed me then decided to also get the hell out of there before this monster (that would be me) decided to DO SOMETHING.

Five baby starlings in that little apartment.  And what a mess they made of it.  Man oh man, did it stink. That little metal cubby hole was full of straw and bird shit.  I got my handy trowel out and started to scoop out this delightful debris.  WHAT A MESS!  Bill said I was grunting non-stop.  I guess!

While I had the Purple Martin house down I decided to check the other apartments to make sure there were no dead baby birds.  In previous years I have found baby birds that were killed by intruders like the starlings or sparrows attempting to build their nests.

What I found was two apartment with eggs in them.  Two more apartments with young Purple Martins.  And I might add, all the apartments were very neat.  It's interesting but both the starlings and sparrows have very messy nests.  Very messy.  Unlike the Purple Martins, bluebirds and swallows who have very neat nests.  And you know that me, with my anal personality, appreciates a neat apartment.

The Purple Martin house has six apartments.  If you were keeping count, you'll notice that I've accounted for five of those apartments.  I checked the six apartment on the other side of the Purple Martin house.  Uh huh, you guessed it...starlings!  Oh well, they're born and my rule is once they're hatched they become U.S. citizens.   That's the rule in my backyard.

All is well again in Purple Martin House Land  - they all returned home


Nathan said...

Well, after my recent experience with an evil baby starling... I can't say that I blame you for disliking them, lol.

Ur-spo said...

phew! what a lot of work!
I miss tending and feeding birds. But I didn't work half as hard as you do here.

Ron said...

Dr. Spo,

You're right, it was a LOT of work. Starlings are messy. The Purple Martins are so neat. What a contrast. I like to take care of my birds. It is my small contribution to nature.

slugmama said...

1st time commenter here....I found you via Mark's blog.;-)
I just love hearing about your birds and your yard. I know so little about birds but I find it fascinating. Hubs puts food out for them so we see many here but we have yet to do bird houses.

Ron said...


Welcome! I love birds. Always wanted to have birdhouses on my property. I love watching all their activity. Their world is like our only in micro. You should have some birdhouses on your property. They are always entertainment.

Ron said...


I don't like starlings. So aggressive and messy. Just like some people. Unlike the gentle Purple Martins which have a very neat nest and are not agressive at all. I prefer the latter.