At one unusually long staff conference the Chief of Staff said in a clear, loud voice, "Sandy! We have a letter from one of the ladies of the garrison stating that she is very much concerned about the vast number of starlings that have taken over the post. She further states that it is well known that starlings are a menace to songbirds and are known to drive them out of the area. The lady suggests that something be done to get rid of these pests, and offers to help. Sandy, I'm bucking this to you for necessary action."
I was stunned. I knew a starling when I saw one, of course, and the mess they can make, but their evil influence on the life of songbirds was beyond me. I said, "General, sir, I'm just a city boy. I know very little about birds, and I would welcome suggestions from some of you country boys—generals and colonels present-as to methods of getting rid of these pests."
It appeared to be playtime. From the group came such suggestions as, "You've got money, Sandy—buy some stuffed owls and put them in the trees." "Have your electrical crew wire the trees with shock power." "Ask the provost marshal to provide a shotgun party." "Turn out the fire department, ringing bells and sounding sirens." And so forth and so forth.
The following Monday the staff conference again took place.
"Sandy!" shouted the C. of S. "What have you to report on a plan to eliminate the starlings on this post that chase away the songbirds and generally make such a racket and mess that they're a bloody nuisance?"
"Sir," I replied. "I have received many notes of advice, but out of the lot I have decided to act on that received from the lady of the garrison—to wit, to fill cooky tins with crankcase oil and birdseed lavishly sprinkled thereon. It is believed that starlings eating this mess will become infertile and so no longer be a nuisance to this post. The ingredients are ready for use; the provost marshal is ready to place the lethal weapons wherever starlings gather—together with neatly lettered signs to be placed behind each cooky tin. In order to make certain that songbirds of the post do not partake of this luscious meal which might make them sterile or their eggs infertile, the sign clearly states, FOR STARLINGS ONLY."
WILLIAM L. SAUNDERS
Lieut. Colonel, USA (ret.)
The clear-eyed, healthy, wholesome and natural beauty of Joanne DiMaggio Webber (PAT ON THE BACK, Sept. 7) was one of the finest surprise dividends ever supplied by your excellent magazine.
The DiMaggios are quite a clan.
ROBERT F. WITTSTEN