Thursday, April 5, 2012

Starling hunting, the Spring Approach

During the past Month I've been killing a good number of Starlings, six via the nest box trap, and the rest with my air rifle.
 I'm still dealing with telescope/mount issues, all tying back to the fact that I didn't know about the very useful recoil pin, a mechanism to keep the scope from sliding. I'm trying to clear up those complications, and hope to have my scope mounted and zoned in before it's too deep into the nesting season.
Here are some tips for hunting during this crucial time.

Over the weeks before, and during the nesting season are prime times for Starling hunting.
(This is for MO., but it should be generally similar in most states).
Before nesting season starts:
 Middle March to early April: The distraction to find nesting sites gives more of a chance for the hunter to sneak closer for a surer shot, and the absence of leaves on the trees at this point in the Month provide easy spotting of singing/sitting Starlings.
When the male discovers a cavity, he usually finds a nearby perch, and begins to sing for the female to join him, to verify the quality of his find. This is one of the most vulnerable moments for our bird, as he is doesn't move until the "song" (a series of chirps, gurgles, whistles etc., of varying length) is complete, thus providing himself an easy stationary target.
Mid April through May: A new distraction, though coupled with a new kind of wariness, is the raising of a brood. The meaning seems high at this point, as killing one or two signifies the elimination of the entire brood (usually 3-6). While the eggs are being incubated, the female can easily be eliminated by waiting till dark to physically remove her from the nest, if the hole is at a feasibly attainable position. (The easiest is obviously a nesting box).
When the eggs are hatched, the parents will be constantly traveling between the nesting site and the feeding grounds, requiring a quick shot before the bird disappears in the cavity, upon returning.
Late May to early June: At this time the young are starting to venture outside the nest, and it's a key time to pick them off, as this also means the young are almost ready to learn to fly, and in a few days, they'll escape safely with their parents to join other families to begin the summer travelling bands of a few adults and several noisy immatures. (see my Starling Hunting in Summer post).

Lately I've been keeping the Starlings I catch in the nest box traps alive, as decoys, but most have died on me from one reason or another. Out of a total of seven birds, I only have one still alive! :( They definitely worked well as decoys while they lasted, though I only killed one of the Starlings that were attracted to the cage, and skimmed another.

So sorry I don't have any photos, I must remember to take more, it's just that I'm usually concentrating on killing Starlings, not photographing them! :)

It took me such a long time to get this post, as I was extremely busy (even more than usual! :) ). As a quick update on things, my last test was the DSST, Management Info. Systems, and I'm working on Financial Accounting now. I now have 78 college credits!
 We just recently found that these credits can be use to fill high school requirements, and realized that I could graduate this year instead of waiting till the next. I'll be graduating in June, with the CHEF class of 2012.
I also am going to apply for Thomas Edison college. The last seven classes will be done through them.
So, lots going on, look like this is going to be a pretty busy year!