Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image A starling sits on the warm pavement near Blue Peak Road.

March 6, 2014
Starlings shine even outside their flocks

In the late 1800s, Eugene Schieffelin, an admirer of Shakespeare and the head of the American Acclimatization Society organization, wanted to introduce all the kinds of birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays to North America. In 1890-91, he released 100 starlings in Central Park in New York City and today, it is estimated that there are more than 200 million starlings residing in the United States.

Starlings are known for their unique way of maintaining a flock of 100,000 birds or more while retaining organization at ranged speeds of 48 mph. This alone is remarkable, but it is not the starling’s only fascination.

For example, starlings do not possess their own natural song, more like loud annoying chatters that can be heard from great distances. Though like their relatives, the mockingbird, they do mimic and are capable of learning 20 different varieties of sounds provided from other bird species. Another interesting fact is their life expectancy. These birds can live up to 15 years in the wild.

When Mr. Schieffelin released the birds in New York City, he may have been trying to control pests too, but unfortunately, once the pests are gone, the starlings become the pests!

A flock of starlings can also be known as a constellation, cloud, scourge, vulgarity, filth, murmuration, chattering, congregation, or a clutter. Fledged young already capable of fending for themselves can at times be seen following their parents still begging for food.

Starlings during the winter months have black beaks, whereas during the summer their beaks become yellow. Females sometimes resort to “parasitic behavior” and attempt to steal another’s nest by laying her eggs in it, rather than taking the approximate three days for she and her mate to build their own. Starling eggs are often mistaken for robin eggs, for they resemble the same pretty blue color.

 

Addie T. Lindsay is 17 years old. She is an accomplished writer and photographer of wildlife creatures, big and small. She can be reached at CritterChatter@Live.com.

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