Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sturnus vulgaris

I watched a European starling hop around a supermarket parking lot today. His iridescent feathers glistened in the sun and he was puffed up a little from the cold. He was about as pretty as it is possible for a starling to be. I don't think any passerine has a more ungainly walk than a European starling, and the relative lack of a tail is a pretty serious fashion handicap, but when they're standing still, giving a full frontal view like the guy in the photo, they can be handsome birds.

Looks aren't everything, though, and I don't think there's any bird Americans hate more than starlings. My grandmother, who was not generally prone to violence, used to go after them with a pellet pistol. We'd be sitting in the kitchen having breakfast, and Granny would spy them through the window. She'd jump out of her chair, a woman on a mission. Starlings at my feeder! she'd say with fury, then she'd commence shooting at them out the back door. ...(more)


Anonymous said...

I don't know why, but we've never had starlings on our feeders. We have plenty of them (starlings, that is)-- they've made our best hammock location uninhabitable-- but they just don't seem to like our sunflower seeds. I have a dear friend who regularly goes after them with her shotgun, but she seems to have as many as ever.

Mary said...

Enormous flocks of them everywhere around here right now. And yes, they like to gobble up my seed. They are so loud, so annoying.

But the worst birds for me are seagulls. Basically, winged rats.

BitterGrace said...

Bozo, Granny never made any headway either. What type of feeders do you have? Maybe you accidentally found the one kind they don't like.

Seagulls are a little creepy to me. Fortunately, not a problem around here!

Anonymous said...

We have a cylindrical one which is perfect for finches, nuthatches, chickadees and even bigger birds. And we have one that is simply a foot-square tray. We use whatever kind of sunflower seeds Kroger sells. I don't know why the starlings stay away, but it may be that they don't like seeds with shells.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Right now there are juncos and goldfinches everywhere. Wonderful. My mother-in-law used to say that if birds are feeding in the rain (which it's doing here now) it will rain for a long time.

BitterGrace said...

They like my seeds with shells just fine. The only thing they don't like is safflower seed, which they systematically throw out of the feeder onto the ground. The bluejays do that, too.

I think your grandmother was right. The rain here shows no sign of stopping, that's for sure.