25 April 2009

Starling

Starling in breeding plumageSo many people take no notice of starlings or consider them a nuisance or vermin. Yet, look closely, particularly when they're in breeding plumage, like this bird, and it's hard to remain unimpressed. Listen carefully, too, and be astonished at their ability to mimic a wide range of calls of other bird species. If these were rare birds, a sighting like this would be celebrated not simply because it was rare, but for the sheer brilliance of the bird.

I photographed this bird during the summer. Now, well into autumn, the starlings here have lost most of this colour and are superficially drab. But some of the iridescence — and all of that voice — remains.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

10 comments:

Anne-Marie said...

Wow - who knew starlings were so bright? This is a gorgeous photo.

I like starlings. I like their busyness, their community spirit and their chatter. A very under-rated bird!

the watercats said...

starlings are one of my favourite birds, the noise of their banter always takes me straight back to my childhood in british suburbia where the rowan lined streets would be alive with their roaring. thank you for such a gorgeous photo..

Zhoen said...

I've always liked them, as well as dandelions.

Relatively Retiring said...

Yes, indeed to all of the above. The starlings in my garden can do telephones, car alarms, police sirens and the shrieks of the children in the nearby nursery school. They can burble like water going down a drain and do cat and dog impersonations. Not only that, but their displays of synchronised flying at evening are hypnotically beautiful.

Word verification: crumbs!

butuki said...

There is a reason they are called starlings. Those people who first named them were really looking at them.

I suspect that just about anything you look at closely enough will reveal beauty.

Emma said...

This is the first time I've ever seen what a starling looks like. I remember having read about them in a book as a child--something about freezing children in Victorian England, I think?--and of course they come up again and again in books and music as a symbol for something common. Surprising to see what they are like at their best. (Like the rest of us, I suppose, as Butuki alludes to in his comment.)

Michael said...

Handsome indeed.

pohanginapete said...

Thanks everyone. It's good to know some people really do appreciate them. In fact, I've looked closer at some of the starlings around here now, and even though the breeding season's well over, some of them are still almost as iridescent as this bird. Presumably the drabber starlings are this year's young.

While they do cause some damage to fruit crops (vineyards suffer a bit) and large flocks in cities can be pretty messy, starlings also clean up large numbers of pasture pests like grass grubs. But trying to work up a cost-benefit analysis of starlings seems pointless to me — a bit like trying to assess the "value" of a poem by counting how many times it's been published.

nz-ajb said...

...but surely it's the poems with the most words that are the best? :)

pohanginapete said...

nz-ajb — Ha! :^D