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Headless Frank...

advisor to the lovelorn, weary, confused, and the overly self-involved

headless frank

Dear Headless Frank:

How do you feel about starlings? Specifically, really voracious, selfish starlings who scare away the little birds and consume all the sunflower seed at an alarming (expensive!!) rate. Do I take down the feeder to thwart those rude visitors but deprive the timid creatures their occasional nibble—or do starlings need love (and sunflower seed) too? Can you tell me anything positive about starlings—and their ilk—that might help me to deal more happily with their gluttony? What's a Nature Lover to do when Nature isn't very loveable?
—Fairfax Fan

Dear FF—
Whew! Are we angry?
First take a deep breath. Then let’s look at your situation rationally.

There are two principles at work here: 1) Survival of the Fittest and 2) Preferential Option for the Poor.

Wait. Make that three principles: 3) You Don’t Like Starlings.

The first thing to know is that you can’t control nature and if you’re going to love it, you have to love it both when it meets your performance standards and when you don’t like the way it works.

Take it from me. I’ve struggled through years of starling hating myself.

Here’s the deal: God made nature. God made Survival of the Fittest. God made love. The first two will always be a challenge to love. I’m pretty sure God did this on purpose.

That explains why God gave us starlings—and their ilk.

We gentle sorts aren’t that enamored with Survival of the Fittest—especially when we consider the Fittest to be "voracious, selfish" creatures. Selfish: Can you point that finger when your complaint is that they are costing you money and you just might withhold food?

Okay, enough of finger pointing, probably our only survival tactic against startlings since they can’t point back (yet!). But let’s try to maintain our gentleness, shall we?

You’re already on the right track as is evident in your suggestion that starlings might need love, too, and in wanting to see them in a positive light.

Let’s do that. Starlings’ aggressive nature (yep, God-given) takes more energy than passive natures. So they simply need more food. Typically, however, once satisfied, the survival mechanism turns to greed—in all creatures, forever desiring more until they explode.

You just watch: When the dearest and best of those little birds starts getting stronger and fatter, its occasional nibble will soon become—you guessed it—voraciousness!

This is where it becomes your responsibility to use your superior intellect to provide the preferential option for the poor—that’s social justice parlance for taking care of the timid little birds who can’t survive the voracious Fittest on their own.

…I’m feeling the St. Francis-ness in me coming out…

Equally important is teaching kindness and generosity to the starlings without resorting to violence yourself. No brooms.

Start by changing your attitude. First, buy cheaper sunflower seeds. Then, make a sacrifice: take time to sit with your feeders and get to know the starlings as individuals. Learn their language. A few choice terms, such as "Down!" "Share!" and "Seriously? Do you really need those five extra seeds?!" will do wonders in how they relate to you and the dear little ones.

Also, your speaking starling language on your back porch everyday will be really entertaining to the neighbors.

I’m sorry I’ve gone on too long, FF.
I’ll continue next week because I want to discuss ilk and intellect, but I have to consult my head, which is currently under siege by starlings after some joker covered it in suet!

Signing off: Medulla oblongata.

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