Gone for Good

The last couple of days I haven’t had much time to monitor the flicker box and I didn’t see either Beaky or Flick. The day before yesterday, I found out why: European starlings. I chased one out of the box on Wednesday evening and when I pulled it down I saw that, between Monday and Wednesday, they had evicted the flickers and built a nest.

The beginnings of a starling nest. Note the dried grass and greenery. Photo by Jamie Simo.
The beginnings of a starling nest. Note the dried grass and greenery. Photo by Jamie Simo.

Like some other species of birds, male starlings will build a nest to attract a mate. For example, house wrens will build several stick nests and will show a female around them to choose the one she likes best. In the starling’s case, greenery in the nest is apparently a big draw for the female. So, to add insult to injury, not only did the starlings evict the flickers, they also ravaged the plants I planted. I found bits of yarrow, coneflower, and flax in the nest I cleaned out of the box.

The floor of the bird house where the flickers had pecked out a depression for their eggs. Photo by Jamie Simo.
The floor of the bird house where the flickers had pecked out a depression for their eggs. Photo by Jamie Simo.

I think I saw Beaky once yesterday after I took the box down for good. She never came back and I haven’t seen either her or Flick since. I’m really upset because it was clear they were close to laying eggs. Not only were they trying to enlarge the nest hole, but they’d chipped out a round depression in the bottom of the house so their eggs would have some place to rest.

I may not be the landlord of baby flickers this year, but I’m not going to let this happen again next time. I plan to do some starling trapping. Stay tuned.

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