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October 18 • 09:36 AM
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February 07, 2018
A snowstorm blew in the black birds last week. Their wings landing upon and about our Bradford pear is an annual spectacle outside my study window.

They'll flush away at my slightest move, hundreds of wings banking this way and that as if I'm a bird of prey. Why those silly birds choose the worst weather in winter to feed is beyond me.

Several weeks ago when the pear's leaves dropped, the birds consumed much of the fruit off the branches. I found their acrobatics and dining habits of the large berry amusing, albeit bad manners.

Later, I chanced upon a herd of whitetails when I pulled my car into the driveway one night—another raid due to folk like us who don't hunt deer and build our homes on their habitat.

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Former suburbanites, my husband and I didn't foresee this consequence of disturbing nature's balance. Neither did we anticipate cell towers and McMansions that went up on and around our country road.

First, I heard the birds spatting. They flew away when I stood in the window. I waited with my camera and shot some pictures when they flew back. It was high time to identify this bird that dominates the number of our visitors.

Some gathered along the edge of the sidewalk and front porch, fought beak-to-beak for their fair share. Others burrowed in the driven snow for a siesta.

I emailed a close-up shot to Seven Ponds Nature Center.

"European Starlings," Katie the naturalist said. "The bad news is they're an invasive species. They sailed in tall ships from Europe."

I'd heard this last summer when the sparrows plagued our hens with their red mites. The sparrows had killed our bluebirds in their boxes long ago. I'd solved the sparrow-hen problem, but what about the starlings?

"In some circumstances, the DNR offers permits to eliminate invasive species," Katie offered.

Caleb answered when I dialed. "The Europeans who brought the sparrows and starlings to New York didn't see the consequences either. They liked the familiar birds from home."

These transoceanic stowaways grew exponentially to "outcompete native cavity-nesting birds" and also killed our bluebirds. The frustrating reality is there's "no delete button to zap the invasive species," as Caleb summarized.

Education and prevention of releasing cargo bearing aggressive and diseased species is the only defense for some trees, plants, and animals—our ash tree, for instance.

Sawing down our Bradford pear would only deprive our native fowl of what food the starlings didn't gobble up. This tall ship survivor gone viral would invade another place.

Dear Reader, I'll continue my conversations with Caleb and Seven Ponds because there's much to learn regarding responsible land management.

Moreover, history and current events reveal the invading human species must want to see the consequences of our destructive devices—consumption of processed foods, opiates, and wireless radiation, to begin.

Otherwise, we continue to pay the consequences of humankind and nature off kilter. There's no undo key for what we've done.

We delete ourselves.

Email Iris at irisleeu@sbcglobal.net.

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Castle Creek
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