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. But she said: "As an urban dweller, I might turn to the starling as easily as any other bird for lessons in living with resilience and attunement to the natural world."
First Bird of the Year
Written by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
This is BirdNote!
[Small flock of European Starlings]
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. A magical bird, you hope—one to bless your perspective, your imagination, your spirit. Here’s what author Lyanda Haupt had to say about her “bird of the year.” [Single European Starling, female if possible]
“This particular year, my newborn baby is tucked softly between my husband and me in bed. There will be no sneaking away to some promising birdish locale. Still, I am optimistic, as lovely birds often grace our neighborhood. I slip out the side door, looking up expectantly.
Oh no! There’s no denying it, much as I try—before me perches the introduced species some ecologists refer to as “sky-rat.” Well, “Year of the European Starling” it is. I’m momentarily disheartened, but consider E.O. Wilson’s words: “Every species is a magic well,” a window onto all others. [Flock of European Starlings]
As an urban dweller, I might turn to the starling as easily as any other bird for lessons in living with resilience and attunement to the natural world. And even in winter she is pretty, glinting with flecks of gold, iridescent black, purple, and green. [Pause] My family is awake now, rustling about the coffee pot. And I am hopeful, amazed already by the coming year.” [Flock of European Starlings]
You’ll find a link to Lyanda Haupt’s books on our website, birdnote.org.
Selection adapted from Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt, Sasquatch Books.
Calls of the European Starling provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Small flock and single bird  recorded by G.A. Keller.
Flock of European Starlings recorded by Martyn Stewart of naturesound.org
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature January 2014/2017 Narrator: Mary McCann