Prejudice Against Starlings

starlings

You know them—raucous, noisy birds with insatiable appetites that can be seen chasing off larger aggressive woodpeckers and jays to take over a bird feeder or someone else’s nest. I remember my university would set off regular firecrackers to scare them out of the trees and off the campus. It became an annual event to hear the booms and watch the boisterous flock rise black against the sky and fly away, often circling to settle back down until the next blast. As we got accustomed to the booms, so did our feathery friends.

Turns out starlings are immigrants, probably illegal at that. They fly from England to the Americas without bothering to check in with Border Patrol. Now I am faced with a dilemma. Shooting starlings is legal in the United States. In fact, using any means to get rid of them is legal; their estimated population in North America declined by 52 percent between 1966 and 2015.

I am no fan of the starling. They lack both manners and beautiful color. But I don’t know whether their natural habitat is no longer able to support them. They may have fled starvation or worse. I can afford an extra bag of seed now and then to accommodate them. The neighborhood woodpecker can wait its turn at the feeder. I vow to open up my heart and make room for these tiny immigrants, to think of them as a species in need rather than invaders.

Not so sure about pigeons!

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