Stephen Harper Birds

Reid Dickie

In a previous post, I wrote about the Jerry Lewis Birds that inhabit my and my neighbour’s backyards. In fact, they are European starlings and come with an asinine genesis in North America. Having grown accustomed to the starling’s bizarre repertoire of trills, thrills and chills, mimicking cats, squeaky hinges and other birds with expert precision, their sudden absence this spring was obvious.

In their place, a flock of Stephen Harper Birds invaded my neighbourhood. These birds have shiny heads and cold yellow eyes.  They aggressively usurp the starlings’ nests, threaten smaller birds like the sparrows that nest in my neighbour’s birdhouses, en masse attack crows and other birds, dive at cats and squirrels and offer a boring repetitious song. Because I didn’t know what science calls these birds, their sinister appearance and unpredictable behaviour earned them the moniker Stephen Harper Birds.

Just as appropriately they are, in fact and by the bird book, common grackles. A lanky blackbird apparently, but when in flocks are noisy and aggressive. I noticed a pair of grackles building a large nest high up in a conical cedar tree in my backyard. I didn’t want these greedy belligerent birds in my life all summer so I applied some bird psychology. I know, how hard can it be to outsmart a bird? Read on…

In my decades I have come to understand that aggression understands aggression so, with that in mind, I tied a stout piece of rope about eight feet high up on the trunk of the cedar where the grackles nested and yanked on it vigourously. It caused the lean tree to sway wildly and the top section where the nest was to whiplash violently, sending the bird fluttering out of the nest. I started this mid afternoon and did it every two hours, always accompanied with wild growls, hisses and noises to add to the effect. During the day other grackles would come and croak away, defending the nest, I guess. But I kept it up until about two in the morning and the bird would fly out of the nest each time. I did this for two days, always with the strange noises. By the third day, the grackles had moved on.

I expected them to return and start nesting again but it hasn’t happened. I notice they have moved about a block west of here, apparently finding easier and more amenable nesting opportunities there. At least now that they have abandoned our backyards, the cats can peacefully snooze on the railings again, the sparrows sound much happier and the European starlings have reclaimed their nests. No more Stephen Harper Birds to defile the neighbourhood. (My apologies to common grackle lovers for the comparison to The Dark One.)

2 Comments

Filed under Birds, Canada Strong and Free, Winnipeg

2 responses to “Stephen Harper Birds

  1. Sharon Coates

    Awwww, I love grackles. They’re smart and beautiful! Just so you know, starlings where brought over here by Europeans, they’re not native, and they too drive our own species out of their nests. As a matter of fact, sparrows aren’t native either. Those Brits just wanted to bring EVERYTHING over here!! Including lawns!

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