Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I'm not supposed to like starlings.
Most books will tell you what a wretched piece of crap this bird is. Usually something like:
"The European Starling is considered a pest, and included here only to help you repel it. One of the least loved backyard birds, these dumpy, screechy, greedy creatures ..."
The trouble started in the 1890s when Eugene Schieffelin introduced a few modest flocks (from England) in New York*. Now there's millions of them in North America. Their rap sheet includes:
  • raiding cattle feedlots (they eat the cow food, not the cows)
  • evicting bluebirds and woodpeckers from nesting cavities
  • smacking into airplanes
  • hogging all the food at the birdfeeder
  • making a mess
How hated are they? They're one of the few birds you can legally shoot, poison or beat to death. Even some people who consider themselves bird lovers have no problem killing this bird.
I enjoy starlings. I shouldn't, but I do. They're cute. I like their spots and iridescent feathers. I like their raspy voice and the way they flap their wings and puff out their neck feathers when they sing. I like how they collect shiny objects and get into mischief.
I like how I can watch them in so many places- parks, parking lots, or from my window.
I know they're bad, but I can't resist them.

*Popular lore says this was part of a plan to introduce all birds mentioned by Shakespeare to North America!


Linda said...

That link is hilarious. HILARIOUS!!!
I like your drawing a lot, too.

Namowal said...

Thanks, Linda.
I have to admire those little crooks for figuring out how to raid those quarters- and to work as a team to do it!

stray said...

I think they maybe blame starlings for a lot of histoplasmosis in these parts....

RHSteeleOH said...

When I was a kid my Uncle told me that starlings came from Russia. I considered that as fact for long long time.

Sally said...

I like them too.

Namowal said...

Hi RHSteeleOH,
That's funny that your uncle thought Starlings were a Russian import. I wonder why he thought that?

Hi Sally,
Glad to hear you like them too.
They're probably the reason why I've never seen a bluebird or a Purple Martin (as starlings hog the nest holes), yet I still enjoy them.

Namowal said...

Hi Stray,
It wouldn't surprise me if they were responsible for spreading histoplasmosis. A big population of messy birds can be trouble.

Lisa Fiori Dragonetti said...

I am so glad you like starlings, we are super star-lings! Just check out my interview here on TV! -Poppy the starling

Namowal said...

Poppy is your bird? Lucky! He's wonderful.