[Tweeters] starlings as Falcon Prey

Bill and Nancy LaFramboise billnanl at verizon.net
Mon Mar 9 09:53:14 PDT 2009

Out on the Sammish Flats, we once saw a Peregrine Falcon take a Bufflehead
in mid-air. A Bald Eagle got the duck from the Peregrine. The falcon then
took a starling (so tempted to say - settled for a starling). It didn't
look like much of a meal.

Bill and Nancy LaFramboise
Richland WA


From: tweeters-bounces at mailman2.u.washington.edu
[mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman2.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of
jbroadus at seanet.com
Sent: Monday, March 09, 2009 9:17 AM
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Subject: [Tweeters] starlings as Falcon Prey

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
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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