Tuesday, March 20, 2012

European Starlings

I forget who asked for it, but someone wanted a picture of a starling -

The bird shown is in it's winter plumage - by spring the buff and white tips will have worn off of the feathers and the bird will be a plain shiny black color.  This wearing of the tips thus causing the bird to look different depending on the season is called "wear molt."  As you can tell by the name (European Starling), the birds are native to Europe, not the US.  They were brought over specifically to be released in Central Park (New York) because a group of people in the 1890's wanted America to have all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's work.  Because the birds are relatively new transplants and it was only a set number released, they don't have very much genetic diversity.  Female starlings may lay their eggs in other birds' nests (parasitism) - this tends to happen if the female starling finds a mate late in the breeding season (a female who finds a mate at the beginning of the season will incubate her own eggs).  Starlings are able to mimic other birds and even sometimes speech (I once read a book where the author and his wife did wildlife rescue and raised a clutch of starlings - one didn't molt correctly so he stayed with the couple for an additional year, he learned to say "hello, Arthur!").  Additionally, Starlings cannot digest sucrose (table sugar) so they won't eat foods that contain it.


Cat said...

Cool facts, Katina! I've not seen this bird at my feeder...I'll keep an eye out for them.

Ally said...

It's too bad they are so bad for our environment. They're not bad looking birds. I've never seen one in my neck of the woods, so I guess I'll count myself lucky. The bird feeders at my house have been pretty quite lately. I'm waiting for the first painted buntings to appear.