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Friday, Aug. 29, 2014

Jake wages war against starlings

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Years ago I remember watching the Mutual of Omaha "Wild Kingdom" show on TV. In this particular program, a lion was crouched behind the log while the other lions of the pride were chasing the impalas, which jumped over the log. When the timing was just right, the lion, which had been crouched down, leaped into the air and brought the impala to the earth and completed his kill.

I stepped out of the house the other day and looked out into the dog pen where Jake, the 11-year-old Shorthair, was sunning himself and Drifter, the English Setter, was crouched flat on the floor of his pen, not moving, much like the lion behind the log. When the door clanged shut, a starling, who had apparently been trying to get into the dog food, flew up, and Drifter leaped into the air like a giant cat, snapping at the bird as he flew across the pen. On that particular attempt he was unsuccessful, but evidence is proving that he is increasing his skill while at the same time reducing the starling population. At last count, he averages a bird every other day. Once caught, he chews on the bird awhile and then leaves the carcass on the floor of the pen for me to remove. In aerial combat, a standard for considering one an ace was five confirmed kills of the enemy aircraft.

Jake has already surpassed that total and seems to be intent on wiping out every starling that dares to venture into his pen and try to steal his food. Yesterday I found his most recent kill just inside the front door of his dog house. I don't know if he was saving that body for a rainy days, but, nonetheless, I removed the bird before the turkey vultures start landing in my backyard, looking for fresh kill. It seems to me that there are fewer starlings in the backyard, and those that remain better be on their toes or, should I say, on their wings because lurking on the concrete floor of the pen is an English Setter who has declared war on the pesky birds.

Maybe I should put a log in his pen so he can have some cover; on the other hand, I think he is winning so maybe I should leave well enough alone.

Dick Hedges
Fort Scott Community College