Niagara Gazette

Opinion

March 12, 2013

CONFER: When the sky rains starlings

Niagara Gazette — In incidents that seem to have become rites of winter throughout the northeast, rural residents living within a couple of miles of large dairy farms were recently subjected to an odd, even frightening, sight — starlings literally falling out of the sky and dying before them. When the carnage concluded, homeowners found dozens of the birds dead in their lawns. This columnist picked up an even 10 dozen from his.

At first blush, some might think that a deadly contagious illness overtook the avian community. Others might believe it’s another sign from an angry god that followed once in a lifetime blizzards in the northeast and meteors exploding over Russia.

Their deaths were caused by none of the above.

Instead, the birds expired due to an application of a chemical agent known as “Starlicide.” This compound is produced by Purina (which some may find strangely hypocritical given the company’s basis in animal health) and it is the most effective tool — maybe the only effective tool — in controlling this most onerous of birds. Upon consuming feed tainted with Starlicide, starlings slowly expire over a 24 to 36 period as their organs congest.

As unsettling of a sight as hundreds of dying and dead birds may be to the average person, it’s a welcome sight to farmers, aviators and nature lovers.

They are all affected by this invasive species, brought to our shores in the 1890s when fans of William Shakespeare made the ill-advised decision to release every bird mentioned in his plays to the Americas (the very same reason we are inundated with English/house sparrows). The starlings multiplied and took over the skies, being just as much at home in the big city as they are in farm country. It is estimated that there are over 200 million of them in the US.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • NIA Hamilton, Ken mug HAMILTON: Popeye's '7-Minute' guide to educating southerners -- and me! Writer Mark Twain said that when he 14, his father was so ignorant that he could hardly stand to have the old man around. But upon turning 21, Twain said that he was astonished by how much his father had learned in just seven years.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Bianco mug 072514 GUESTVIEW: Business First ranking casts Falls in a new light There are those in the community who like to cite Business First's annual rankings of school districts and speak unfavorably about Niagara Falls' low standing.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • CHEERS AND JEERS: The best --Â and worst -- of the week of July 25 It sure sounds like the Buffalo Bills really will be "Living on a Prayer" as far as Western New York is concerned if the team is purchased by the prospective ownership group that includes rocker Jon Bon Jovi.

    July 25, 2014

  • NIA DeLuca, Michele mug DELUCA: Wegmans call warns of bad fruit I was humming to myself the other day, getting ready for work on a lovely summer morning, when I decided to check my messages on the house phone. I hit the play button and heard a message from Wegmans warning me about some fruit that I had bought at their store. As quick as that, a message with the scary potential to change my life or the life of someone I love.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Glynn, Don mug GLYNN: Ortt jumps on drive to repeal the SAFE Act It was a no-brainer for North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt, a Republican candidate for the 62nd Senate District seat, to join the forces to repeal the state's SAFE Act.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Delaying refuse law really just makes situation worse It's obvious the rollout of the city's new refuse and recyclables collection program has caused confusion and consternation among some city residents and business owners.

    July 24, 2014

  • NIA Giannetti, Robert mug 072414 GUEST VIEW: Village of Lewiston parking issues related to Artpark need to be addressed On Artpark nights, the South Fourth Street area and many other parts of the Village of Lewiston are covered with pop-up parking lots on residential lawns that operate in spite of existing zoning laws prohibiting commercial activity.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Bradberry, Bill mug BRADBERRY: Tourists attracted here by history, beauty, politics As my friend and colleague, writer Don Glynn has so artfully portrayed over the decades, "For many years after the dawn of aviation, U.S. presidents visiting Western New York started at the Niagara Falls Airport. The reason: The main runway here was longer than that of the Buffalo airport and could easily accommodate Air Force One, the presidential aircraft."

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Experience Center vital to tourism here From time immemorial, Niagara tourism leaders have expounded on the need for a first-class orientation center to showcase our assets for the millions of annual visitors here.

    July 23, 2014

  • NIA Confer, Bob mug CONFER: A constitutional convention is not the answer For the past few years it has been popular for folks of the right persuasion (Republicans and neoconservatives) to call for a constitutional convention ("Con-Con") in hopes of passing a balanced budget amendment (BBA.) A lot of people have jumped on that bandwagon; no doubt your email inbox or Facebook news feeds have shown that.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page