We live amidst a variety of trees, so we are visited in the summer by a myriad of birds: woodpecker, nuthatch, goldfinch, house finch, tufted titmouse, blue jay, mockingbird, mourning dove, robin, and the ubiquitous house sparrow. All co-exist, feeding on the tubes of feed and seed and cakes of suet I set out under our cherry tree, facing the window over the kitchen sink.
This summer, however, I have been plagued by starlings. In poetic language they form a murmuration. In my yard, however, they form a pack of bullies, driving all the other birds away. They don’t even share with one another. Instead, they fight for every toehold, every branch, every suet holder. They spend so much time fighting, they often don’t feed, so consumed are they with pushing each other away from the food.
Last week I put out one suet cake for the downy woodpeckers I had seen around. I hadn’t seen any starlings in a few days, so I thought the coast might be clear. The woodpeckers had the cake to themselves for five minutes. Then, by some starling signal, five starlings arrived and began fighting–not eating–on the suet cake. They drove off the woodpeckers.
I leave any analogy to the reader.