Not so Darling Starlings

These rascals, who strut around like little Mafioso, converge on diners at the Boat House in Central Park and the minute a person isn’t looking they steal their food.
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Common Starling, Central Park 10/28/2016
Common Starling, Central Park 10/28/2016
Common Starling, Central Park 10/28/2016
Common Starling, Central Park 10/28/2016

Starlings are very smart and are mimics. I read a charming little book about one called Arnie, the Darling Starling: Margarete Sigl Corbo, Diane Marie Barras, Leslie Morrill: Amazon Books:

“The true story of a talking starling and the grandmother who raised him is as heartwarming a book as you will ever read. When Margarete first came upon Arnie, he was just a familiar springtime sight: a baby bird lying helpless in the daisy patch. After unsuccessfully trying to return him to his nest, she took him into her Texas home and raised him as carefully as she had raised her own child, teaching him to perch, to fly, even to talk. Arnie resisted all attempts to restore him to the wild, preferring steak and canned corn to worms, which frightened him, and even developing a taste for wine. Arnie is full of life, laughter, and love. It is a completely irresistible book.”

The spectacular aerial feat that a murmuration of starlings performs (Video by Dylan Winter):

Eugene Schiefelin, a member of The Acclimatization Society, wanted to introduce all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare. He released about a hundred starlings in New York City’s Central Park in 1890 and 1891. By 1950 starlings could be found coast to coast, north past Hudson Bay and south into Mexico. Today their North American numbers are over 200 million. (Source: “Call of the Reviled” Scientific American).

27 thoughts on “Not so Darling Starlings

  1. leegaywood 2016-11-03 / 6:28 am

    Startling Starling indeed, great imagery *!*

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wãshē Kōdä 2016-11-03 / 6:29 am

    I would clap loud with leather gloves to spook them to fly south (thousands) while in Iowa yrs ago

    Like

  3. Midwestern Plant Girl 2016-11-03 / 6:32 am

    I’m both mesmerized and perturbed by these guys. When they come to my feeders, they bully all the other birds away for the day. With diligent pounding on the window when they come, I can get them to move on 😉
    While writing a post about them awhile ago, I learned from a scientific study about how they are able to perform their murmurations.
    “Measuring how a change in direction by one bird affects those around it, the team discovered that one bird’s movement only affects its seven closest neighbors. So one bird influences its seven closest neighbors and each of those neighbors’ movements affect their closest seven neighbors and so on and so on.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Barbara Bryan 2016-11-03 / 7:57 am

    The stealing food you describe makes them sound no different than my 2 cats! I think their plumage attractive and sophisticated looking!

    Like

  5. smackedpentax 2016-11-03 / 8:02 am

    Brilliant! About 4 or 5 years ago we suddenly started getting a large flock of starlings circling overhead at dusk – thousands and thousands of them, their patterns were amazing and we were mesmerized by the spectacle. Then just as suddenly it all stopped, the whole thing only lasted about 2 or 3 weeks. We haven’t had it since. One of the neighbours thought they were disturbed by someone chopping down some trees in their gardens, but we never did find out. It was an amazing time and we used to look forward to their displays – but not to washing the cars afterwards.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherry Felix 2016-11-03 / 8:12 am

      Beautiful. I would love to see that. I enjoy their antics. I wish they weren’t a problem. They also steal nests, such as those made by woodpeckers.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sherry Felix 2016-11-03 / 7:27 pm

      The goose that hit that plane was a migrating Canada goose. So the stupid response was to kill local non-migrating geese.

      Like

  6. bythebriny 2016-11-03 / 11:39 pm

    Love your photos! Also, the video is amazing…the music is the perfect accompaniment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherry Felix 2016-11-04 / 12:06 am

      Thank you. The video is nice. Not mine though. I’ll add a title.

      Like

  7. BeckyB 2016-11-06 / 5:56 am

    Their numbers are falling here in the UK. Once they strutted their stuff around our garden, looking glorious in all their hidden colours. These days I am lucky to see them flying overhead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherry Felix 2016-11-06 / 8:35 am

      I have heard that their numbers are down 80% and I saw very few of them in London last winter. There are many reasons and many unknowns. Sad.

      Like

      • BeckyB 2016-11-06 / 10:14 am

        Think that drop is probably right and they’re not the only birds disappearing from these shores 🙁 agree it’s dreadfully sad

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Jet Eliot 2016-11-08 / 2:44 pm

    So many birders have deep disdain for the starlings, and there are definitely problems with this species, as you and I know. But I am glad you featured them here, Sherry, because, as you pointed out, there are some beautiful aspects to the starlings too. Their plumage, at certain times, is gorgeous; and the murmurations are undeniably glorious. I laughed outloud at your mafioso comment. Excellent post~~

    Like

    • Sherry Felix 2016-11-08 / 3:15 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it. Shame that they are becoming rare in Europe – no more large murmurations.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. the dune mouse 2016-11-09 / 11:41 pm

    lovely birds though cheeky. The males have feathers like a Chinese silk coat. I’ve seen the murmuration. It’s incredible!

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  10. wildlifewatcher 2016-11-16 / 9:53 pm

    Hi Sherry, I used to see a lot of Starlings back in California when I lived there. Have not seen many at all here in FL and only a few up in TN. Lots more Grackles. Both are similar kinds of flocking birds (and yes, the Starlings are really bright birds). Have a fine day tomorrow!

    Like

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