I spent part of this morning drinking coffee in my family room and watching birds. I have a little birdhouse in my back yard that I can see through the window, and for 30 lovely minutes I sat quiet and watched Mama Bird (I assume it was the mother but I guess it might have been the father, I don't know much about my feathered neighbors) fly back and forth, bringing straw to make a nest. I attached the birdhouse to a fencepost a few years ago and this is the first time I've seen any kind of bird nest there, which made me happy. I have bird friends in Tennessee who are Purple Martin experts...and I kind of hope they aren't reading this because the busy bird making ready for her chicks is a starling. My Purple Martin friends tell me starlings are bad birds, and Internet research for the most part agrees: they're invasive, territorial, and "compete with, displace, and kill many native birds and their young." I've been hearing this for years because I have another starling family that returns to a nesting spot under the eaves by my kitchen window. I'll be washing dishes in the spring and watch the parents come and go, then I hear peeping, then the babies fledge. I feel a little guilty about providing a nesting place for the starlings, but the alternative -- flushing them out with the hose or rooting for the feral cats to do away with the chicks -- seems too awful. I don't have it in me. I even apologize to every summer fly I swat.
So...I've decided to enjoy the annual show and turn deaf ears to the bird experts. I don't love the starlings, but their arrival means spring is close behind. The temperature in Sherburne today is 36 degrees, not exactly tropical, but the clock is ticking forward and the starlings tell me the pile of snow in my driveway will soon melt and the flowers will push on up through the soil. Then I can drink my morning coffee on the patio and watch Harry spin in the bee balm.
We had a snowy winter, really lovely, but I'm done. At this point I might welcome a grizzly bear making a nest in my back yard if it meant spring is near. With that said, bring it on, starlings.