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!)

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