It’s a starling, darling.

by Bella Rum

starling swarm

H showered and dressed and gave me a goodbye kiss on his way out the door this morning. A few minutes later, I heard a banging noise below my window. I went to investigate and found him on a ladder outside the back door. He was sticking a mop handle into the dryer vent and swishing it around.

I asked, “What are you doing??”

He said he’d seen a starling grasp the edges of the vent with his claws, and actually lift the cover with his beak and go inside. Upon further investigation, H found that he/she was building a nest in the dryer vent. Lovely.

H called a service that cleans dryer vents and was quoted the price of $261.00, and told that they couldn’t make room on the books for us till next Thursday. I will be out of clean bras by tomorrow. Let’s just say, it wouldn’t be pretty.

Nest construction: Males start putting nesting material in the cavity shortly after picking a site. Once they have paired off (late February through March), the couple builds the nest together, usually in the morning and evening. Sometimes the female takes out nesting material brought by the male. They may also remove nesting material from a previous nest. A nest can be built in as little as 1-3 days. The nest is bulky and slovenly. The cavity is filled up with grass, weed stems, twigs, corn husks, dried leaves, pine needles, etc, with a depression near the back. Feathers, rootlets, paper, plastics, cloth, string etc. may also be added. The cup lining may include feathers, fine bark, leaves, fine grass etc. Some nests also have fresh green plants (thought to work as fumigants against parasites and pathogens) like yarrow in them. The nest cup is about 7–8 cm in diameter and 5–8 cm deep.

Source: Sialis

We decided to tape the flap closed (against H’s better judgment). H was concerned the bird was still inside the vent, but I convinced him to tape it shut so the bird couldn’t get back inside. I told him the bird would be fine if he/she was still in there. He [H] could release him when he returned home. He finally agreed, taped the vent shut and left.

Ten minutes after he left…

“suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.”

Oh, my God! I couldn’t stand it. I thought of how it would be to be entombed alive. I had visions of The Cask of Amontillado. I went out to the deck and climbed the step-ladder H had used. I wasn’t tall enough and I had no business being on that ridiculous ladder. I’ve told H a million time to toss it. I went back inside and found the mop handle and climbed the stepladder again. This time I was successful in scraping the tape till it was free. The starling must have found freedom because it was quiet after that.

H returned home and pulled the dryer away from the wall and stuck the shop vac hose down the vent.


This was the result!

He then went outside and did the same from the other end. It worked and it saved $261.00.

My hero.

He’s putting a wire screen over the vent tomorrow.

I just want to add two more things to this post. Susan of  Bear Swamp Reflections left the link to a video of starlings swarming. It’s a beautiful sight. I just had to add it. She also mentioned that dryer vent buildup is one of the leading causes of house fires. That’s another good reason to clean your dryer vents! Check out this video.


We priced this service when we moved here eight years ago, and the price was $60.00 dollars.