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Friday, January 16, 2009

Aghhhhh --Look what was at my Feeder


I had a 'new' bird at my feeder yesterday... Guess what it is??? I am sure that most of you 'birders' know what it is!!! It's a European Starling.... YIPES!!!!! At least I 'think' it is. It has all of the characteristics except a yellow bill. Our bird's bill was black. SO--is it a Starling or something else???


Earlier in the morning (it was 10 degrees outside), George noticed a HUGE flock of birds in our FRONT yard (not anywhere near the feeders).. I wondered at the time what they were --and thought about some of you complaining about having alot of Starlings, in huge groups.


Later, in the morning, I saw THEM at my suet feeder. Luckily, I only saw 2-3 of them at the feeder, and didn't see them again after that time (thank goodness). I hope they were just passing through!!!! They didn't scare off our regular birds--who were at the feeders most of the day!


I looked up info on Starlings since I didn't know much --other than the negative stuff. Here's some info I read: "The starling is a dark, chunky, muscular bird that is distinguished from other blackbird species by its short tail and longer, slender bill. In the winter starlings showcase a highly speckled, iridescent coat, while in the summer their plumage is much duller brown/black with less speckles. Starlings gather in massive flocks (some numbering tens of thousands) and these aggressive birds will drive out other native bird species often taking over the other birds' existing nests."


Starlings are regarded by most as pests but there are a few facts about these birds that many people don't know, yet if they did they might look at these birds a little differently. Despite their huge population, you may be surprised to know that starlings are not native to North America. In 1890, a fan of William Shakespeare's took it upon himself to have all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's writings found here in America. So, along with many other species, approximately 30 pair of starlings were released in New York City and after only 30 years they could be found coast to coast. Obviously, they are highly adaptable. It is also interesting to note that it was the population explosion of starlings in the United States that resulted in laws being established controlling the importation of alien birds.


They are relatives of the mynah bird, and back in Europe, starlings are often kept in cages because they can be taught to whistle tunes. It is said by experts that if you whistle a simple tune to your bird about 50 times over the course of three days it will learn to repeat it in the exact sound and pitch of your whistle. They make wonderful pets and even mimic words such as "pretty bird" or your cat's "meow". In fact, in the wild they can be mistaken for robins and red-winged blackbirds because they learn to imitate the calls of other birds they flock with. (Does that make you want a Starling???)


Even though starlings can be pests at your feeder throughout the winter, in the spring and summer their diet is more than half made up of insects, especially moths and japanese beetles. Any garden lover will find this a beneficial trait. George said YEAH to this since he grows roses and Japanese beetles can do tons of damage to roses. SO----am I going to 'poo poo' Starlings???? Maybe not--but I'd prefer them to NOT eat at my feeders. HA!!!


The picture above is one that George took when the Starling was on our feeder. He really is a pretty bird--this time of year, with his white dots!!! There are two more pictures below.



Above, you can see the Starling pecking on that suet. The temperature was about 10 degrees--so I'll bet that suet was HARD.



This is 'part' of the flock of Starlings (or some kind of birds) in our front yard... Yow!!!!