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European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

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Birdbaths in Winter

Does the image of a frozen birdbath bring to mind a small yellow bird with ice skates? Birds need water in all seasons, for drinking and for bathing. When the water is frozen, you can thaw it with hot water. Or go the slightly more expensive route and add a heater. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary, birdfeeding

Begging Sounds and Postures

After young birds have left the nest and can fly short distances, they still follow their parents and beg for food. They squawk and assume a begging posture, wings drooping and head hunched down. Most young birds, including this European Starling, depend on their parents for days, weeks, or even... read more »

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Bird Scare - Interview with Carl and Rita Comfort

When it's time to pick their four acres of wine grapes, Carl and Rita Comfort would rather the birds didn't beat them to it. Without some form of bird control, they could lose about 10% of their harvest. So at their vineyard, Comforts of Whidbey, they broadcast the distress calls of birds, to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  gardening

The Lowly Starling

Much maligned as a pest and cursed by many as an "invasive species," the European Starling has had many fans, too. Eugene Schieffelin introduced about 50 pairs into the United States in the 1890s. And Rachel Carson noted that the starling carries "more than 100 loads of destructive insects per... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music, vocalization

Bird of the Year, From Lyanda Haupt

Many birders play a New Year's game called "Bird of the Year." The first bird you see on January 1st becomes your theme bird for that year—one to bless your perspective, your imagination, your spirit. Author Lyanda Haupt was at first disappointed with her "bird of the year," a European Starling.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching, reflection

Parking Lot Birds

You can find birds nearly everywhere. Even parking lots. Next time you're at a mall, grab a coffee, take a seat outside, and look around you. How many different species of birds can you see? Crows and gulls command the rooftops. Rock Pigeons abound. A European Starling-like this one-picks up the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

European Starling Nightmare

You can find European Starlings in huge flocks from coast to coast, and from Northern Canada deep into Mexico. Yet not one of these iridescent-black, yellow-billed starlings is native to the Americas. One hundred starlings were released in Central Park in New York City in 1890. From that small,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

A Tree Alive with Song - European Starlings

What an amazing noise! Whistles and trills, squeaks, rattles, and gurgles that suggest an orchestra of birds tuning up in the urban forest. You look around – not a bird in sight. The sounds waver in intensity, but with no clear pattern. Perplexing, but strangely wonderful! Suddenly, a large... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound

The Most Abundant Birds in North America

By August, most birds in North America have finished nesting, bringing legions of new birds into the world. These Mourning Doves, which prosper in many environments, are among the most abundant birds on the continent. Their population is estimated at 350 million! In second place is the American... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, science

Starling Mimicry

The searing cry of a Red-tailed Hawk pierces the air. The distinctive scream is coming from a tree nearby. But when you scan the tree for the form of a hawk, you see only a small, black bird. You’ve been fooled. It’s a starling giving voice to the hawk’s cry. The European Starling — the continent... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Starlings and Roman Divination

European Starlings were present in great numbers in ancient Rome. They swarmed in massive flocks or murmurations — thousands of individuals cascading and folding in awe-inspiring geometric patterns in the sky. Roman augurs, or diviners, scrutinized these patterns for signs of how the gods were... read more »

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Starlings Say It With Flowers

European Starlings regularly adorn their twig nests with marigolds, elderberry flowers, yarrow leaves, and even willow bark — all of which are full of aromatic chemicals, which fumigate their nests and are thought to discourage pests and parasites. Scientists discovered that starlings hatched in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting
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