|Our Feathered Friends - April 13|
|Wednesday, April 13, 2011|
By RAY POPE
Only the sounds of starlings invaded the peaceful Sunday afternoon along with the old dreaded House Sparrow. After a meal fit for a king, I wandered around the corner where I could watch the Martin Condos to see what was going on. Just two short years ago there were several families of Purple Martins raising their young, and now the place was devoid of this beneficial insect-eating machine.
Only starling and English (House) Sparrows remained. This is one of the reasons I fuss about people placing the condos out and never taking care of what wants to take over the houses. I would love to have the opportunity that was presented to the property owners about having Martins in their yard.
When it comes to starlings, I will go out of my way to forbid them access to some favorite nesting hole. Several years ago there was a hollow spot in a tree across from our old body shop where the starlings started to take nesting materials into. I thought that I would give them a hand doing this and after a few minutes there was no more room for anything else to fit into the former hollow, much less a starling.
Last week at our Lebanon-Wilson County Public Library, I noticed starlings taking nesting stuff into the two columns where the brick work didn’t fit together completely on the top. After getting permission,
Michael Bennett, one of the library aids steadied the ladder for me to fill up the hole with expanding foam. Problem solved! Where the starlings hovered about the area it was a nasty mess with droppings all over the night book depositories and sidewalk. Accumulated starling poop can harbor bacteria which contains spores of Histoplasmosis, a very dangerous lung disease, which can sometimes be fatal.
Looking out at Cedars Preparatory Academy, there were five light fixtures where starling would enter the top, where they should have been capped off when construction workers installed the light poles to start with. Maybe after a while some of the nesting sticks and straw could ignite from the heat of the lamps and put an end to the starlings’ home there. If I could somehow reach up that high, I would fix their problem also. Well, so much for my favorite bird.
With all the trees in bloom and flowering plants right behind, it’s time to consider putting out your Hummingbird Feeders. Last fall, I washed all twenty something that I had and put them up for the winter. Now they are ready to go. When placing them out, you should be able to see blue sky above them where they can spot them more easy.
Please do not use the store bought nectar as it contains red food coloring and no natural sugar. Hummers cannot process the food coloring which could wind up killing them. The formula for what Karen Franklin’s daughter Anna calls “Hummer Juice” is one part sugar to four parts water, warm enough to dissolve the sugar. Keep me in mind and let me know when you spot that first one.
On the 29th and 30th of April, I will be leading a birdwalk and owl prowl at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park in conjunction with the Elsie Quarterman Glade Festival. The birdwalk starts at 7 a.m. Saturday morning, and the owl prowl at dark. Maybe we can find a Screech Owl or more.