Open for Occupancy . . .


Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

By Larry D. Rea –

“The Stare’s Nest by My Window”

“Mama Stare (Starling) has returned,” I called to Erica, who was fetching us a fresh cup of coffee from the kitchen. “Scare her away,” Erica answered. “I don’t want her to nest inside the wall.”

We were drinking coffee and watching birds work in the orchard and what we could see of the side yard. We climbed the stairs to the second floor “tower” and sat in the bay window on the south side of the house. The bay window offered a perfect viewpoint for all the action.

A woodpecker had drilled a hole in the outside wall next to the bay window and the empty cavity attracted a pair of Starlings. When the female began to carry nest materials to the hole, Erica tried to discourage her by rapping on the window and yelling “NO!!!” Then, realizing her voice was about to fail, she decided to use a referee’s whistle. A shrill blast from the whistle proved to be more effective than yelling, but the Starlings were persistent.

A power pole about 30 feet from the house made an excellent observation post for the Starlings… they would perch innocently on the top of the pole. We could see them fluff their feathers and preen, pretending to be absorbed in grooming, but carefully looking around. When they were satisfied the route was clear, one would launch toward the woodpecker hole and the cycle would begin again. Erica would greet the Starling with a blast from her whistle . . .  the Starling would flee… and return a few minutes later. It remains to be seen who will persevere, Erica or the Starlings.

“Are Starlings protected by law?” Erica said. “I’m thinking about using my shotgun.”

“Let’s see what we can find on Google,” I replied.

According to Wikipedia, the Starling is not native to North America and was introduced by humans, so they are not protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Starling is shotgun fodder.

“Maybe using the shotgun is not a good idea,” said Erica. “There are more Starlings than I have ammunition and the neighbors might not appreciate the shotgun blasts . . .  maybe we could encourage the Starlings to go somewhere else.”

“What would you rather have nest by the window? William Butler Yeats prayed for honey-bees in his poem: “The Stare’s Nest by My Window” . . . the last line is: ‘O, honey-bees, come build in the empty house of the Stare.’ You could use the honey and wax from the honeycomb.”

“No birds . . .  no bees . . .  my house . . .  my rules . . .  no sharing . . .  they have their place and I have mine . . . they can leave me alone . . .  that’s the final answer.”

There was no room to disagree. It was time to change the subject.

Photos by Larry D. Rea; more about Larry at

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