Beaverton Bird Watch: Ravens vs Raptors

By Anne Harris03 Starling

I looked out the window today to gauge the weather on one of my last mornings in Beaverton, when two starlings (sturnus vulgaris) on the roof next door caught my attention. Starlings rarely perch. They stand around like people do and this pair appeared to be having a conversation, looking around, heads cocked in thought. They were soon joined by another starling, then another. I know what they were doing.

It took a male flicker (colaptes auratus) weeks to chisel a hole in the siding of that house two years ago, leaving chucked tufts of brightly colored insulation below, heaped like sweepings from a punk rock barbershop to make room for a proper bed of wood chips between the walls of the structure. His hours were long, but his tenure was short. Within days, Mr. and Mrs. Flicker were displaced by starlings, known to fight the drudges of the bird world unto death, rather than excavate on their own time.

The hole in the siding was repaired a few days ago. It’s impossible to tell it was ever there now. The starlings on the parapet were wondering where it went.

I’m retiring to the Great Lakes region in a few weeks. You could call it a senior migration of the human kind. Sadly, this is my last inning at the Beaverton Resource Guide, but I like the final score: Flickers 1, Starlings 0.

Anne Harris is a local author who finds watching her avian neighbors quite fascinating as they loudly inhabit a mixed stand of conifers and broadleaf trees behind her home. “Provide food and they will come,” is what she discovered, and has been avidly studying their diverse habits ever since.