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Invasive vs. native species: Starling

by DENNIS. L. CLAY
Herald Columnist | March 12, 2020 12:13 AM

City folk might not notice these problem birds as much those folks on the farm, but there is a reason. Hidden among the thousands on a city street, it is difficult to see the other thousands on the same street, along with thousands of pigeons and otherwise messy birds.

The pigeons are not necessarily a problem bird on the farm. Now, wait for it, let me clarify the words, “Not necessarily a problem bird on the farm.”

Two to three hunting buddies stop at a friends’ house just outside The Super Town of Hartline. Here we visit a bit then try to knock down the pigeon population a bit. If it is within the mourning dove hunting season, we also help with this population, plus there is the Eurasian collared dove populations.

Actually, we are on our way to hunt fall turkey. After a couple of hours of hunting and cleaning the birds near Hartline, we again visit with the landowners. The reward for our efforts is a slice of pie, with ice cream. Next, we head north and east looking a limit of four turks.

Back to the pigeons, those who wouldn’t eat a common pigeon, remember, the common pigeon is eating the same grain and other food the mourning dove has been eating. The meat from one dove should be as delicious as from the other dove.

Starlings, as a food source, do not appeal to me. They just don’t seem as clean as a pigeon. Of course, eating a city pigeon doesn’t appeal to me either.

Research indicates the European Starlings in North America descended from 100 birds set loose in New York’s Central Park in the early 1890s. The birds were intentionally released by a group who wanted America to have all the birds that Shakespeare ever mentioned.

Yeah, thanks a bunch New Yorkers. It seems invasive species are spread by people who want to see a favorite species, of some type, moved from one location, such as a lake, to another location, such as another lake.

Starlings cause significant damage to horticultural industries, particularly cherries, grapes, blueberries, olives, stone fruits, apples, pears and a range of vegetable crops.

They will damage drying fruits and occasionally birds will remove fruit from drying racks. Starlings also damage cereal crops, and will take food from feedlots, storage areas, piggeries, poultry farms and dairies. They may carry parasites and disease, with the potential to contaminate food, food packaging, factories, and livestock areas.

We stop by the Hartline farm on the back home, hunt some pigeons and eat more pie and ice cream.

Tomorrow: More information about starling damage to agricultural crops.