Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Starling Scourge

I have written about it before, but sometimes if you see proof, you'll understand better.

Our water is back on, Keith, God bless him, put a heater in the well house, and the filter, which we think was full of ice crystals, thawed out.  We knew the pump 100 feet down was okay, the temp down there was 20 degrees... so the problem was at the filter.  Tomorrow morning there will be a new one in there, and the heater is on for the duration of winter.

By this evening, it was still cold, but clearing.  One more night of bitter temps, and then we are expected to get up into the mid-fifties by Sunday, so perhaps some of this snow will melt (and we'll have mud!) - hallelujah!  We are both so very tired of it, as I know you all are.

This is what I saw when I opened the door of the henhouse yesterday:

This is a bag of grit, I usually reach in and grab a handful and throw it in the bedding, since the birds have not been going out daily. It's covered now. 
Notice the fortex on the floor to the right of the ladder, full of poop.  There was white starling poop everywhere, and even on the birds. 
This morning when I went out to do chores, I found this, sadly,

This is Four, one of the two little gray roosters. I found him just inside the door to the coop.  I need to explain that One, Two, Three and Four have been trapped in the rafters for almost three weeks.  Sometimes one or two would come down and hang out on the lower roosts for a while, but Rambo would chase them back up.  They have been eating and drinking on the top of the closet built into the coop side of the building as opposed to the "feed room" side.  On the feed room side are the nursing cage, the rabbit hutch, the feed bins, and a large cabinet, home and roost to Butch, whose three ladies (The Survivors) roost just above the door in the rafters.  When we first converted this little house to a henhouse, we pulled down the ceiling tiles except for ONE section of three tiles, and the fence between coop and feed room goes all the way to the top except for this ceiling tile area.  The birds walk around on it, and the smart ones go back and forth on it.  Four had never done that, but somehow, during the night, from stress of being shut up, stress of Rambo bothering them, and probably the intense cold, the starling invasion and the hit or miss food and water the last three days, (the waterers were dry when I got home for the last two days, despite filling full in the morning)... the combination got to him.  These four roosters were due to turn five in June, sons of Fred, our original Japanese bantam rooster. 
We are going to open the coop tomorrow so everyone can get some air, and the braver ones can venture out into the snow-filled henyard.  That way there won't be so much tension in the coop.  After tonight, when we will have intense cold, the temps are supposed to climb to 55 on Sunday.  All the birds will be able to get out and stretch their legs and wings.
The more cynical part of me says that at least it was a rooster who died... and not an egg layer.  The sentimental side of me says that one of the roosters I loved to watch the most is gone. 
This, then, is what the last ten starlings looked like as I came in the henhouse.  They are trying to get out the hole in the eaves.  This hole will be shut up in the spring, when we build the new henhouse and do major repairs to this.  It gives you some faint idea of what scores of them flying back and forth look like.


  1. Mary Ann I am glad your water issues are solved. I am so sorry about your little rooster. I really think that is why we have no critters anymore because I just can't handle the sadness of losing anymore. You and your husband and farm have been on our minds and in our prayers. The starling thing is just really bizarre. At least the warm up in the weather will help you with farm chores and make things easier. Take care and hang on, the warm up is coming!

  2. There's always something to temper the good news, isn't there? I am going to watch the video, but I can imagine what it's like having had starlings set themselves up in a condo birdhouse my sister once had. They were ruthless...divebombing anyone who dared go near. The problem was that the birdhouse was right outside her kitchen door. I didn't know that they attacked other birds, but why not? It'll be good once they are blocked from being around. Nasty critters. I prefer snow to mud, but there's no avoiding mud season. Ours won't arrive before the middle of March. To think that last year we were outside in 70 degree temps on the first of April. Sigh.

  3. Sorry about the loss of your Roo. Glad Keith got the water going again.

  4. Dont keep more than one rooster per 20 hens.

  5. You and Keith have certainly had your amount of bad luck this season. Hope things are looking up. Glad you got the water pump going. LOL Mary G.


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