Sunday, January 25, 2009
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)