. . . or a shotgun permit. For some reason the municipal leaders frown on people cleaning out cedar trees infested with starlings and grackles inside the city limits by using a 12 ga. Look, if the Most High had not intended for us to use birdshot, we would not have birdshot.
The other evening I went for a stroll just at sundown. It was a lovely evening, with a soft, striped sunset sky and gentle winds. A few birds chirped here and there, and all was well with my soul. Until I got to the next block, and a cacophony of cackles and caws erupted, spreading as I walked. Grackles and starlings streaked overhead, going from one pine or cedar to another, drowning out everything short of a lawn mower as they screamed at each other. Ugh.
Like that, but in trees.
As far as I can tell, neither grackles nor starlings add anything to property values, cultural heritage, or civilization in general, unless you count corrosive guano. Starling poo will ruin airplane paint, and we had permission to shoot them with bee-bee or pellet pistols so long as we didn’t put holes in the hangar roofs.
We are fortunate in that we don’t usually get the enormous (as in tens of thousands of starlings) flocks, the murmurations, that plague farmers farther east. Starlings and grackles are nuisance birds in Texas and can be shot without permit or season. They can strip fields of sunflowers and other crops very quickly. Plus they make messes and drive off desirable birds and starlings are not natives.
The common starling lacks the lovely plumage of some of its cousins. It ls dark with speckles and is a pest, introduced to North America by someone who is on my list of “people to have words with” if we ever get time machines perfected. The great-tailed grackle is the one that hangs around in this area. The male can be momentarily attractive, because of its irridescent plumage, but otherwise lacks redeeming features, and will eat corn by stripping off the husk and eating the kernels. They also eat insects, smaller critters, and have been known to kill “good” birds in flight.
They seem to have taken up residence in several cedar trees growing on other blocks. The dense branches and needles make good cover at night, and are not easy for predators to climb into. I’d like to take a shotgun, or hire a falconer (if I win the lottery) and dispatch the avian delinquents.
But no one asked me.
I hope the hawks come back soon.