Sunday, March 1, 2015

Backyard Drama

Ok, it was actually in the side yard ...

Our protagonists meet.

On top of the stump, in all black, European Starling (the crowd boos!). And on the side, in the dapper orange cap, Red-bellied Woodpecker ("Yay!" "Woo Hoo!" "You show him!").

The red-bellied is not happy about this newcomer on his stump.

The starling calls for backup ...

Red-bellied's having none of that. He's got em both jumping!

A third starling joins the fray.

Red-bellied goes on the offensive.

He's really taking it to him.

The tide appears to turn ...





My hero!


European starlings are a non-native invasive species that were introduced in the United States in 1890 as part of a plan to bring all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays to the new world. It has been very successful here, with the population estimated at 200 million birds. And that's a problem as it is an aggressive bird that will evict native species from nest cavities.

Some number of years ago I watched a pair of starlings and a red-bellied woodpecker fight over a tree cavity in Colliers Mills WMA here in New Jersey. The starlings seemed to be getting the better of the flght that day. And I never understood that. I could see how starlings could oust most birds, but woodpeckers have a powerful weapon. A few pokes with that jackhammer bill and that starling will be quickly looking for new digs.

The red-bellied had no problem with any other birds being on the stump, with the exception of the bluejays. I wonder if they recognize starlings as competitors for next sites and thus the animosity?

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