[Tweeters] starlings as Falcon Prey

jbroadus at seanet.com jbroadus at seanet.com
Mon Mar 9 09:17:29 PDT 2009

It may be that starlings dont' taste all that great and/or are loaded with parasites . I had the unpleasant experience once of taking
a class to stuff dead birds for Audubon, and I got a starling. It smelled so bad that I could hardly finish the class. i know that most
birds have no sense of smell, but it could be that they also taste foul. Also , if they are loaded with parasites, they may represent a
poor choice for taking back to the nest.
Consider, as well, starlings' housekeeping. Even more than most cavity nesters, starlings use a wide array of sites and an endless
variety of human-built structures. Typically cavity nesters lay their eggs on nothing more than a bed of chips or feathers, but
starlings build nests inside their chambers. In addition to gathering dead grasses for those nests, starlings carefully select fresh
green vegetation rich in chemicals that act as fumigants against parasites and pathogens. Green sprigs are added to the nest until
the eggs hatch. To maintain its insulating properties the nest is kept dry by removing the fecal sacs of the nestlings. Once the
chicks are feathered, nest insulation becomes superfluous, the fecal sacs are no longer removed, and fresh anti-parasite greenery
is no longer added. Thus, even before fledging, starling nests resemble a pest-ridden compost. But starlings are hardier than many
other cavity nesters. They can, for example, withstand the infestation of tens of thousands of mites per nest hole without
an increase in mortality. Therefore nest construction includes early (but not late) incorporation of leaves containing fumigants,
and minimal, but precisely timed, efforts in nest sanitation, the starling has reduced the energy costs of housekeeping while
decreasing the value of its hole for reuse by its competitors.
Clarice Clark
Puyallup, WA. 98371
mailto:jbroadus at seanet.com

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