Beliefnet
Beginner's Heart

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via google

We have several bird feeding stations on our deck: suet feeders, a seed cylinder, sunflower seed, and small seed (mostly millet) for our sparrows. In the summer, we trade out one of the 2 suet feeders for a hummingbird feeder, and add yet another. There are also 2 different-sized watering saucers — one deeper for the robins & mockers — and another shallow. Plus a tiny saucer filled w/ pebbles for the bees, butterflies, & moths.

We like feeding birds. 🙂

Our reward is a symphony of bird songs: the rat-a-tat-tat of downy & hairy & red-bellied woodpeckers; the cacophony of sparrows, the chirp of cardinals, the shriek of hawks who prey on the smaller birds (& squirrels), as well as finches, blue jays, robins, and many many more. One of our favourites is the house wren, and we’re lucky to have at least 3 (maybe more).

Unfortunately, we also have starlings. LOTS of starlings. Sigh. BIG sigh. The robber barons of birds. I try to think of their beautiful wheelings & soarings, the murmurations that are endlessly fluid & lovely in the wide Oklahoma sky. But mostly? I just see them monopolising the feeders, chasing off even our stalwart mockingbirds.

via wikicommons

via wikicommons

I hate it.

Every time I see the starlings, I remember how much the seed cylinders cost, and how a chattering of starlings can clean out the whole feeding system in a matter of hours. Sheesh. So I make harsh noises, bang on the window, and go outside and yell at them. Today I may even throw a snowball! Darn starlings. And still they return. Until finally I give up, and try to remember that even a greedy starling needs to eat in this cold cold winter. They have families, too.

It’s the way, I’d like to think, that aggressive conservatives feel about feeding the poor: they don’t want the human equivalents of starlings to ‘eat’ what’s earmarked for the house wrens & mockingbirds of humanity. Except… I don’t really believe this, I’m afraid. Yes, there are those who take advantage (like the rapacious starlings). But while the anti-welfare and anti-WIC forces want to abolish feeding stations for ALL the poor and/or hungry, I’m still feeding the blasted starlings. I continue to put out food, even though I know it won’t last as long.

via commons.wikimedia

via commons.wikimedia

Yes, the starlings will gather and gorge. But otherwise? How will our house wrens, our tiny chickadees and finches, the overwintering yellow-rumped warbler, and the flicker make it through this heavy snow? What would happen to the mockingbird, the early robin who has taught himself to feed at the swinging seed cylinder? Or the utterly adorable downy & hairy woodpeckers who cling to the wire suet feeders?

I will suffer starlings. If not gladly, at least w/grace (well, most of the time). And I wish I could convince those who are in charge of human feeding stations of the wisdom of the same. Overall? The starlings are a fairly minor nuisance. I wouldn’t trade a single house wren for the lot of them. Nor would I want to see a single child go hungry, because someone might take advantage of the system…

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