Saturday, March 19, 2011

Don't Defeat a Main Purpose for Starling Hunting

It's easy to get carried away with Starling Hunting and forget that one of the main purposes for which we eradicate Starlings is to help other cavity nesting birds, so remember to make a few birdhouses for a good variety of species. Manage them well, keeping unwanted tenants out, like Starlings and H. Sparrows, of course, and Squirrels (when getting rid of the legally "huntable" species, remember to leave them until settled, then ambush them at night), and cleaning the houses out yearly. I just completed a log house, made from a naturally hollowed out piece, with plywood for the floor and ceiling.
The log came from my new job for this year, taking care of the property of the Larimore House Plantation, the same place where we usually have the Art Festival. We (the owner, his son, and I) were working on some brush, and I found the hollow log.

Remember, safety first when building birdhouses, Oh, and don't forget the movie music! (that's the only reason for wearing the huge goofy ear gear!!)
Photo by Marjolaine

I'm looking forward to seeing this bird soon. What do you think it is?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Preparing for Starling nesting season

Spring is near and the Starlings are searching for places to nest. To keep them at bay, I just assembled a new birdhouse trap, a little larger than my first two. I have also been repairing ordinary birdhouses from Squirrel damage. On my smallest house built for wrens, they chewed the hole from the original 1" diameter to about 3x4", almost as big as the house itself!

Once the Squirrel got in, it seems he abandoned the house anyway, it being so small inside!
 Last week I had an unsuspected captive in one of my birdhouse traps....a Southern Flying Squirrel! I wanted to show him to the others, but when I put him in a chicken wire cage, he surprised me by squeezing right through!
One of the most confusing things about hunting Starlings in spring is that along with huge flocks of these birds also come huge flocks of returning Grackles and Blackbirds, both somewhat difficult to distinguish look-alikes. One simple way to remember is that Starlings have very short tails, while the Common Grackle has a long extravagant type. Brewer's Blackbirds have been very confusing for me, because they land and walk very much like Starlings, but a quick scan with binoculars can set things straight. Brewer's and Rusty Blackbirds both have longer tails than Starlings, but not as long as Grackles'. Be careful of mixed flocks. Often Starlings will move around with other blackbirds, so look carefully before you shoot into a crowd.

Note the tail differences. Starling on top, Grackle below
I added a Starling and male House Sparrow to my kills list from this past week. I hit the Starling through a small space in the branches, where his head was popping up. It was a perfect head shot! (any other would have missed!). The H. Sparrow was at a feeder, I got both with the Gamo.

I recently completed Statistics with Aleks, and am finishing up College Math, to further work on Natural Sciences (I'm rather busy, as you can see!)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Aftermath: Art Festival

As it turned out, the Art Festival went quite smoothly, although I didn't get to play much accordion with Nikola and Sara like I had hoped to. This was mainly because serving drinks took up most of our time, even though we had Peter, his cousin Alex, and myself all on the job!
I only had one other person in my age group, and the outcome was expected with so little competition; 1st place for my "German Girl", and 2nd for my "Cooper's Hawk".
The photo contest is always a different story; there's always lots of competition there! This year won 1st and People's Choice with my "Leopard Frog", and 3rd with my "Dragonfly".
Peter won second with one of his Yellow-bellied Marmot photos (they were up on his blog Conjecture Only awhile back). Here are my entries.
"Leopard Frog", 1st Place, People's Choice
"Dragonfly", 3rd place

"German Girl", 1st place

"Cooper's Hawk", 2nd place

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More on the Art Festival


All photos, except Swallow (the original) are by "Mazzou" (Mazzou's Mellifluous Memories).

Here are the photo entries and last year's pictures for the Art Festival. This years festival will held this coming Tuesday, at the Larimore Plantation. Peter and I are usually the "bar tenders" (pardon), as seen above, and this year I'll also be playing some accordion with my older sister and Peter's, Nikola and Sara, respectively.
Below are my  two art entries from last year, "Barred Owl" (pencil, 3rd place) and "Turtosaurus" (colored pencil, 1st place and Peoples Choice).

Photo for 2009, "Damselfly"
2nd photo for 2009, "Greener on the Other Side" (2nd place)
Last years 1st entry, "Bank Swallow" (People's Choice)

Last years photo 2nd entry "Whitetail Dragonfly" (2nd place)
As far as Starlings go, I haven't been getting enough time to pursue them, although I did recently shoot one, and also caught one in the birdhouse trap, but he escaped.