Thursday, February 21, 2013

For the Birds

I always look forward to this time of the year when the birds begin singing a different tune. It normally happens around the second week of February but I didn't notice it this year til just this morning.

 I used to think I was hearing some of the summer birds coming back from their Southern vacation, but the new song we're hearing now is actually being sung by the same birds who've been here all winter. They've just changed their tune, not because it's getting warmer, but because they have noticed the change in the length of the daylight.

 Ain't nature wonderful!

 It's too bad we humans won't leave it the Hell alone.

 Now I'm not talking about you and me......I'm talking about lunatic do gooders like Eugene Schieffelin who in 1871 was chairman of the American Acclimatization Society in New York City. He had this great idea to introduce to New York's Central park...every bird species mentioned by William Shakespeare.

 Great idea, right ?
European Starling

Eugene and the society's wildest success was with the European Starling.

Come on in you ugly, pushy, slimy, disease bearing starlings! Make yourself at home.

But don't expect us to like you!  Our native birds can't stand you either.

Eugene and his "Oh so brilliant" friends  had 40 of them shipped over from England and promptly released in New York's Central Park.

 Now look!

Starlings over Kentucky
Millions of them descended this week on a small Kentucky town fouling the landscape, scaring pets and raising the risk for disease in a real-life version of Alfred Hitchcock's horror film, "The Birds." The European starlings blacken the sky of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, before roosting at dusk, turn the landscape white with bird poop, and the disease they carry can kill a dog and sicken humans.

Starlings over Scotland
Today the starling is ubiquitous, with its purple and green iridescent plumage and its rasping, insistent call. It has distinguished itself as one of the costliest and most noxious birds on our continent. Roosting in hordes of up to a million, starlings can devour vast stores of seed and fruit, offsetting whatever benefit they confer by eating insects. In a single day, a cloud of omnivorous starlings can gobble up 20 tons of potatoes. The south-central Kentucky city of 35,000 people, about an hour north of Nashville, has hired a pest control company to get rid of the interlopers. Henry Jako, general manager of McGee Pest Control, said crews use air cannons and "bird-bangers" - similar to bottle rocket fireworks aimed into the trees where the birds roost. The artillery attacks are disturbing some locals as well as the birds.  -Wikipedia

The Starling appears in Shakespeare's King Henry the Forth when Hotspur plots on using the bird's vocal talents to drive the king insane. Good choice of weapons.

 "The common curse of mankind, - folly and ignorance"   -Shakespeare