She said, "What?"
I looked out. "Oh. It's a starling." The cluster of feathers glued to the glass suggested what had happened. Looking out made the answer more specific.
Today is the start of Project FeederWatch 2008-2009.
"Project FeederWatch is an annual survey of birds that visit backyard feeders in winter. Throughout Canada and North America, volunteer participants count birds at their feeders over a two-day period every week from November to May. It’s a great family activity, and the results help our scientists detect and understand population trends. Over the last two decades, Project FeederWatch participants have helped track erratic seasonal movements in several species, and have documented long-term declines in some of our common birds."
So I set up my feeder, the one I took down last March when the rats appeared. This year I'll be extra-vigilant, rat-wise.
Regarding the rats: they were doing serious damage at the base of our retaining wall, so I snap-trapped a number of them. I discovered that if I simply dropped their carcasses on the lawn, they would magically disappear with a matter of hours, leaving no trace. Crows? Gulls? Herons? Some diurnal forager.
I wondered what would happen if I dropped the dead starling on the lawn. (BTW, I took pictures of the bird, but then I thought, who the heck wants to look at a dead starling? Here are live ones.)
We went out for a couple of hours, and came back to this:
Starling kerblooey, feathers only, spread over several square metres. Whom did I feed? A heron would swallow the bird whole. Would crows or gulls pluck it so thoroughly? There's a very busy Sharp-shinned Hawk around, which I see several times a week. Could this be his handiwork? A Project FeederWatch Mystery. (Or perhaps dead birds left out in the yard don't count?)
In any case, I need a camera trap and another suicidal starling.