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European Starling - Thank you, Shakespeare!

Posted April 27th, 2008 at 02:06 PM by Hex_Enduction_Hour
Updated April 27th, 2008 at 05:00 PM by Hex_Enduction_Hour
The Surprisingly Amazing European Starling

Image from Whatbird.com

The European Starling - they can be found almost everywhere in America. Just yesterday on a coastal bike ride in Monterey, I was feeding Starlings nuts from my trail mix in a McDonald's parking lot.

I've never thought highly of the bird as it seemed uninspiringly ordinary and ragged with its scrappy-looking feathers.
But poking around on the internet about the species has broadened my appreciation for this fascinating bird.

The millions of Starlings found in North America today can be attributed to a group of about 100 released in the 1890s.
Industrialist Eugene Schieffelin was a member of the Acclimation Society of America. He introduced the birds to North America in order to bring to the U.S. every species of bird Shakespeare had mentioned in his literary works.

Shakespeare mentions the Starling in Henry IV for their mimicry ability. Starlings can copy the sounds of many species of birds. They can incorporate sounds from the environment including car alarms!

This complex set of vocal vocabulary has made them a prime candidate in the study for research into the development of human speech.

Starlings flocks will occasionally fly about in the thousands as seen here in this YouTube video (one of countless on YT) uploaded by palicoot42. I would love to see a display like this someday in my life!

The European Starling is definitely no ordinary bird!
Posted in Nature
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funrun's Avatar
This is one of the many bird species that I have identified on my balcony feeder. Only one has come and I've only seen him twice, briefly, so I'm surprised they travel in huge flocks like that awesome video! I was also surprised to learn they are so common because I don't recall ever seeing this species in my life. It's kinda cool how they were introduced to the US, but I also think it is very wrong to introduce a species to a land it is not native in.

I have photos of the one on my balcony and will be posting that blog sometime in the next day or so.
Posted April 27th, 2008 at 06:35 PM by funrun funrun is offline
Hex_Enduction_Hour's Avatar
Yeah, very wrong to have introduced them to the US. I've read they aggresively fight for nesting spots and can evict those birds who originally created the site. No wonder they can be seen flying about in the thousands - they're aggresive and successful in procreating!
Posted April 28th, 2008 at 11:05 AM by Hex_Enduction_Hour Hex_Enduction_Hour is offline
Gulp's Avatar
Thanks for linking the nice video. Very awesome. Too bad it was starlings! NPR had an ornithologist (is that the bird scientist?) on the show talking about the starlings causing species to become endangered because the starlings are kicking birds like woodpeckers out of their mating grounds. Kind of an ugly bird. If every starling was replaced with a hummingbirds... hmmm. Maybe if I built a time machine...
Posted May 14th, 2008 at 08:18 PM by Gulp Gulp is offline
Hatchetbill's Avatar
“Nay, I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak nothing but Mortimer.”

They are one of the most amazing birds to watch in flight but what an ecological disaster story as far as our native cavity nesting birds are concerned. Its really amazing what the extreme ignorance of one person can accomplish. Starlings do not make their own nest, they just take from other birds. Unfortunately many of our wookpecker species will never have healthy populations again because of the starling.
Posted May 27th, 2008 at 11:43 AM by Hatchetbill Hatchetbill is offline
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