Tuesday, December 15, 2009

European Starling

On a clear day the birds come out. We don't have to many of those right now, clear days or birds, so I have to take advantage of the situation whenever I can. I was lucky enough to find this European Starling right outside my house. It's the first time I have been able to do that. They usually fly away too soon.

I've seen pictures of these starlings before but I never thought I'd actually see one. When I walked out my front door I heard birds singing in the trees. I still didn't expect them to stay long enough for me to get any pictures, but as I got closer to my truck I realized that they weren't leaving.

I was lucky enough to have my camera already in my hand because I was headed to the hiking trails. It was easy enough to turn on the camera and start taking pictures. The only problem was that I forgot that I had the lighting set for taking pictures in the woods. After several pictures I changed the setting.

I decided that since this was the first starling I've seen I'd do a little bit of research. I thought I'd find some of the regular fun bird information that I find all the time, but what I really found wasn't necessarily very good. These starlings aren't considered to be very nice birds at all.

It seems that starlings are immigrants to this country, like most of the people here. As their name indicates, they originally come from Europe, where over hundreds of years they adapted to living in and around human settlements. In  1890 one hundred starlings were brought here and released in Central Park in New York City. Since then they've spread over most of North America.

These birds allegedly group together in large hordes and have the capability of ruining everything in their path. They steal the homes of other birds, they eat and spoil the food of cattle, they damage crops, and they are very difficult to drive away. That's not a pretty picture at all. But their is a good side to them.

Insects. Insects are considered to be much greater pests than these starlings, and the starlings eat them. They eat insects like locusts and ground beetles, which cause much more destruction than them, so the final verdict on these birds is that the good they do outweighs the damage. So I guess there is a happy ending to the legend of these birds.

You might have noticed that these last two pictures are a little brighter than the first two. As I said above, I had to make an adjustment with the camera. The first two pictures were good so I decided to include them anyway. You can get a good look at the birds by clicking on any of the pictures though.

And finally in this last picture you can see the bird from the back. Notice all of the tiny white speckles all over it. This is what always fascinated me about starlings. Maybe that's how they got their name. All of those tiny speckles look like stars at night. Maybe. Maybe not.

I told you yesterday that the poll results had a small chance of being delayed again. That small chance turned into this flock of European starlings, so hopefully I'll have the poll results tomorrow. I also have some other things to catch up on around here, and I'll see if I can do that in the next few days. Talk to you then.


  1. It's really tough to like them when you see them swarming by the thousands and taking homes away from birds you've painstakingly tried to encourage. I saw two sitting on top of the bluebird house last week, and my heart sank.

  2. This is great Ratty! I enjoy reading about the European starling, and thank you for the information on them.

  3. The Startlings at my place are very very very noisy atop the trees, which they make these their home.

    They make fun at home. They make noise at home. They are arrogant at home.

  4. OH, man... do you want me to send you a crate of starlings? They are just awful. The juveniles are pretty, but I'd rather have even the aggressive kingbirds.

  5. Starlings are here to stay (by the millions) but they do displace a lot of our native birds. There is no way we are going to get rid of them, so all the other birds and humans will have to adapt.

    They are beautiful in the bright sun as they give off an irridescent color.

    I really like the way this particular piece is written.



  6. a swarm... like a fast-moving black cloud greets me every morning on my way to work... it's those starlings! *sigh* Thanks for the information! :)

  7. Great information, I didn't know that about starlings. I like your photos too. I do that all the time with my camera, have it set for one thing and then forget to change it the next time I use it. At least you were able to adjust your setting before they flew away

  8. Oh, but I do like the silly sounds that they make. Do you know they imitate other birds and sounds??

  9. You were able to capture him at every angle which is great. It's always so difficult for me to capture birds. I try and try but no luck. Great shots.

  10. We love seeing the European Starlings in the spring..they have a distinct sound when they sing, did you hear it? They do come in big groups but they don't seem to bother the other birds in the area or at our feeders...We like them!

  11. Ratty nice to see a piece on birds-more of the same? In the UK in Autumn you get large flocks that perform fantastic maneuvers when the are looking for a place to roost.

    Dark black clouds wheeling in the sky-truly awesome.

  12. Beautiful Starlings bird. I believe everything in moderation are always good. If their population are controlled, they will gives more benefits than harm

  13. OK. I confess. I'm one of those people who does NOT like starlings.

    Why? One spring, I was enjoying watching a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers excavating a nest in a hollow tree just outside my window. One day, while I was watching, a starling kicked them out. The female woodpecker flew off. The starling literally dragged the male woodpecker off the tree and wrestled it to the ground. I left the encounter feeling the woodpecker was lucky to have lived.

    They are extremely aggressive to cavity-nesting birds. I've tried to appreciate them; their survival strategies, their mimicry. I just can't.

  14. Great capture on the starling Ratty. I don't see them much in this area, maybe the crows and hawks keep them away. More likely they prefer the agricultural parts of our valley.

  15. I've never seen any of these around my area. At the moment, we have an enormous population of large vulture hybrid kind of creatures. They're huge and quite intimidating.