Starling Young - So fearless? What do I do?

Hi - Sorry I'm new here I don't know if I'm posting this at the right place :) 

I've been feeding the birds all year round and have recently had an influx of starlings that since having babies are constantly in the nearby trees (sure my neighbors appreciate that at 5am). This morning I noticed they were feeding off the ground and my dog did her usual bout of morning zoomies and in my shock one of the birds didn't fly away.. she actually bowled one over. It seemed to be okay - I think my dog was more in shock than anything! but I found that really strange, they are always brave and cheeky but they always do fly away if anyone gets too close. it wasn't until later I noticed there were quite a few young just walking around on the ground, some alone and some following their parents. They were just fearless.

I live at home and unfortunately my parents do have a cat. She's not normally a problem because all my feeders are quite high. But with them fearlessly on the ground I just knew it wouldn't take long for her to kill one and to dismay sure enough when i came out a few hours later she'd not only killed one but was batting another one around, I scared her off and luckily that one managed to get away. Then later on one got trapped in the netted trampoline we have for my 5 year old cousin - it had obviously flew in there and didn't know how to get out. 

Is there anything at all I can do to help them? I just feel its a double edged sword, i can't stop feeding them as they've come to rely on it. I've stopped sprinkling mealworms on the ground and only putting food in the feeders to try and stop them being on the ground so much.

I'm a real novice at this if that wasn't already clear so any help would be appreciated, thank you :)   

  • Very little can be done. Loads of young starlings are wiped out by cats and sparrowhawks. As you say, they don't seem to know about threats to their safety and take far too long to work things out. Strange how many species have in built senses, and others have to learn the hard way.

    That said, it would be good if cat owners took care in what their cats spend their time doing.
  • p.s. re feeding, I am against 24x7x365 supplementary feeding. It does young birds no good what so ever and congregations on young birds will attract predators and encourage them to keep coming back. Birds don't need extra feeding, especially when the weather is good. If they rely on manual food handouts, they are at unsustainable levels. Realistically, for declining species like starlings, that is unlikely.
  • Young starling's etc are not bothered  with people. I had 3 starling's 1 young blackbird & sparrow all young & they didn't notice how close I was to them.  I was by the shed watching them. Adult birds will fly off

    J

  • Thank you for the replies guys.

    So do you think that I should slow the feeding down now that its nice weather and stop encouraging it? I just read a lot that its encouraged to feed birds all year round. Like I said, I'm a real novice - I just love feeding them and watching them, I find it really therapeutic. But I don't want to encourage that sort of thing. and re: the cat, yes I agree - I do try as much as I can to watch her as much as I can, if it were me I wouldn't own one I'd choose the birds but unfortunately that's not up to me right now.
  • I am in a minority in terms of supplementary bird feeding. It depends what the thinking behind it is as to whether it is something worth doing. No one will disagree if the reason for supplementary feeding is to see birds close at hand, or to get photos of. If it's about conservation, or boosting numbers, or sustainability, that's where disagreement might occur.

    High profile celebrities, conservationists etc believe in, and in some cases paid, to support 24x7x365 feeding. They are more qualified than me.

    I think my view summed up would be this. If a population of birds, say house sparrows, or goldfinches is low. Someone then moves in and rents a house and puts out niger seed and sunflower hearts etc and the population explodes, is that either sustainable or conservation? I personally don't think so, as the cause of the population boom will move away as soon as the tenant does. Likewise, no one will doubt greenfinch population growth a few decades ago was due to a surge in popularity of bird feeding. I would argue their collapse in population, along with other bird diseases which seem far more prevalent these days in species like chaffinch and great tit, are also as a result of bird feeding. Some people will argue with that. However, unless people pay for science to prove common sense, it'll never be agreed upon. Does a large congregation of disease carrying birds increase the risk of spreading disease or not???? Unproven some will argue.