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 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

  • NIA Scheer, Mark mug CITY DESK: Hobel will be missed

    Lost in all the hoopla surrounding last week’s announced retirement of state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, was the loss of another well-known figure in local government and politics.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Higgs, Norma mug HIGGS: More pastors, a new church and more of everything Before I go further back in time, I want to just go back to last week where I took my own advice and spent a couple of hours at the Como, where I enjoyed one of their traditional "parade of bowls and plates of great salads, pasta and meat dishes" and listened to longtime friends of Tom Darro roast him with humor, accolades and best wishes. And best of all no one who came to the microphone mentioned garbage totes or carts. It was a welcome relief.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Time is of the essence in Maziarz probe Voters in the 62nd district and elsewhere across the state deserve the ability to make an educated decision about any candidates who take money from Maziarz while he still has the ability to dole it out.

    July 21, 2014

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 U.N. School in Gaza Hit by Israeli Strike Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Officials Warn of Avoidable Death in Hot Cars Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' House Committee at Odds Over Obama Lawsuit Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record
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