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Posted by: atowhee | May 3, 2019

GUTTER SNIPE? NO, GUTTER SNOOP

When I used to bowl I feared “gutter ball.”  As I bird I found myself having to admire “gutter bird.”

The dogs were walking me around the neighborhood.  They let me out every afternoon for some air and exercise.  We passed one neighbor’s lawn just as an adult starling lifted off the grass with a beakful.  It was a row of earthworms lined up tip to skull, adult starling serving starlets their afternoon tea.

The starling noticed me and my accompanying predators, not the loud display of the forest robins this morning, but still antagonistic in the extreme.  Prancing around the roof, shrill shrieks, glares from starling eyes.  After nearly a minute of this furious charade, with the adult wary of giving away the nest location, something happened.  The need to feed took over.  Perhaps there was some danger of the fresh worms starting to spoil?  Whispers of distress from hungry starlets in the nest? Suddenly, the adult dashed past the gutter’s fecal medallion and dodged beneath the bent edge of a metal leaf screen and ran to the nest nestled beneath said screen where no serious predator could get.  And with rainy season over, an open-air, safe nest site.

Starling 1, gutter screen 0.

None of us ever doubted the starling’s startling ability to adapt to the environment we primates provide, but this was a new level of avian ingenuity for me.

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