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BBC Earth – Swarms of ten million starlings in Rome

An evening pause: These birds know nothing of social distancing. And good for them!

Hat tip Cotour.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Skunk Bucket

    These images of huge flocks of birds in flight are beautiful and mesmerizing, but the poop problem is very real. When I was a child back in the late sixties and early seventies, the campus of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley faced the same issue that Rome does now. Millions of jet black starlings (a non-native species in the US) would fly in for the night after a day’s feasting on the bountiful Weld county fields. Their cacophony was near deafening and the resulting mess disgusting.
    The university came up with a plan in which campus personnel and neighbors in the immediately surrounding area would simultaneously play that same starling distress call on whatever audio equipment they could find and bang blocks of wood together until the flocks took off.
    Living just a block from campus, my father, a professor there, would haul our big console stereo out onto the front porch, then play that horrendous screeching bird noise while my little sister and I banged our blocks together until our ears rang. Our neighbors up and down the street did likewise.
    It was all very scientific, with the local experts determining the best time of the evening to launch the attacks. It evidently worked, too, because as I grew older, flocks of starling weren’t an issue anymore. Still, for years after that we would occasionally pull out that 45 of the tortured starling and play it on the stereo to drive our pet cats absolutely batty.

  • Alex Andrite

    Call in the Falcon’s.

  • Captain Emeritus

    Just before dark, a crop-duster would spray liquid detergent over the massive roost.
    Spraying was timed to co-ordinate with light rain falling, and near freezing temperatures.
    The detergent washed away the birds protective oils, and they simply froze to death overnight.
    Front end loaders hauled them away, along with their droppings, measured in feet, below the trees.
    I still have small scaring in a lung from my own bout with histoplasmosis..
    That was the way the infestations were handled near Memphis Tn. in the late fifties.

  • Chris

    Mother Natures swarming drones

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