Friday, May 21, 2010


We've lost our battle with the starlings this year. For the past eight years or so we've had to deal with them trying to share our home with us. The first year we thought, "Oh how charming, will you look at that, we have a birds' nest on our porch. The children will love it." By the time the nestlings flew away, we were so glad they were gone!

The second year, knowing nothing about birds, we were astounded to see them back again, building in the very same place as before. Though wise enough now to be immune to their charms, we were too late to prevent another nest and had to suffer with them again.

Starlings are filthy, noisy and potentially destructive. Though helpful in controlling the population of grubs and other insects in suburban lawns, they have been known to cause damage to homes. They are also aggressive and destructive to other species of birds, being known to invade or take over their nests.  They also build nests in places that are very inconvenient and potentially harmful to humans:

Once, there was a terrifically dreadful smell throughout our entire house.  We could not find the source of it but knew it to be something organic that was decomposing.  We figured perhaps it was something like a squirrel, bat or rodent that had gotten trapped in a wall and died.  It wasn't until the following Autumn when we turned our furnace on for the first time and noticed the smell took on a scorched quality that we found that a starling had somehow flown down the chimney and gotten stuck in the pipe where it meets the actual furnace itself.  The Viking unscrewed something and there we saw the blackened face of a bird, perfectly preserved in charcoal.  When The Viking touched it, it crumbled into ash.

Apparently, we aren't the only ones to have trouble with them. None of these photos are mine, I found them on different sites when I was looking for info on these pesky birds:

Yes, that's inside someone's patio grill.  How did they get in there?

And THAT is several years' worth of starling nests, piled several feet high. Ugh. Apparently, they don't remove the old nests before building a new one.  They just layer it on!  Can you imagine the smell in that attic?

And this one amazes me!  Did they get in from underneath the car?  They must have!  And I suppose this vehicle wasn't used all that much if the persistent birds had time to build in there!

Anyway, the third and fourth Springs, The Viking tried sealing up their old point of entry. They found their way in using another.   Then we re-sided the house and completely removed the soffit beneath the eave in which they'd been building.  We thought for sure we'd finally solved the problem.  It was kind of entertaining to see Ma and Pa Starling confusedly fluttering around the place where it had been, but our amusement ended when they just moved to the rain gutter slightly to the left of their old home!  AAAAUUUUUUGGGHHHH!!! Another two years of having to clean bird poop off of the porch railings and mailbox every other week!  Our mailman was horrified, I'm sure!

FINALLY, The Viking went out and sealed up every little crevice he could find in order to prevent them from returning.  And it worked.  They fluttered around in vain for almost two weeks, trying to find a way back in.  And they moved on.

For one year.

Then the next.

And the next.

And even the next.

Each year they'd come back, fluttering around the site of their old nest, looking for a weak spot, but then they'd go off somewhere else.  I always wanted to know where they'd been nesting during those years and why they didn't just immediately go back to those places?  Why always back to our porch first?

Anyway, this year, they made it in again.  I don't know how they did it.  I don't know why, after all those years away.  But they're back.  And they're super annoying!  Ask anyone who spends any time at all sitting in the kitchen or dining room (which is, like, everyone?) what the noise is like.  They make this kind of whirring, spitting, rattling noise that is very loud and distracting.  And they make it ALL THE TIME!  I think it 's the nestlings because just a few days ago they were peeping like that all the time.

From where I'm sitting in the kitchen, I can merely glance out the window and see the beginnings of the poop stalagmites on the porch railings.  Sigh.  Our poor, poor mailman.  And there's nothing to do but wait for the nestlings to fly away and then my poor Viking has to go back out there and seal everything up all over again.  I think I am going to get one of those fake owls that scare the birds away.  I've resisted because I don't want to discourage the finches and wrens who have also tried (and once or twice succeeded) to nest on our porch.  They are welcome to stay; they're not noisy, messy or destructive in the least!  But I guess it can't be avoided any longer.

So, score one more for the starlings.  But look out next year, you squawky, bird-brained pests!


Jayne said...

I have starlings in my yard. Dratted birds. So far they haven't built a nest in or on my house. I detest that awful noise they make, and you described it perfectly. Fewer starlings and more doves, please.

Leila said...

Time to get that man-cub a bb gun.

Amongst The Oaks said...

Yep, you gotta shoot 'em!