Immature Starling (Sturnus Vulgaris)
Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
May 29, 2010
They 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.
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.
So, despite their pesky habits of robbing your feeder or defecating all around your property, try to remember the positive and interesting traits about starlings. And the next time you’re outside and you think you heard someone call your name, maybe you did.
Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 28 – 300 at 300mm
iso 100, spot metered, F6.7, 1/20 second