Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hello starling

European starlings are probably my favorite of the invasive troika that dominates Chicago (starlings, house sparrows and rock doves) and most urban areas in the United States. Their calls are more interesting than those of sparrows and pigeons, and the glossy plumage and bright yellow bills of mature adults can be quite striking in high breeding season.

Starlings are related to mynas, which are often kept as cage birds. I imagine that if we caught one of the starlings in our alley and put it in a cage, it would eventually learn to imitate our speech--much like mynas do. For now, we'll settle for their bizarre repertoire of squeaks, whirrs and gurgles in our alley.

Anyhow, it was raining dead starlings in New Jersey recently. The biblical deluge was caused by a pesticide at a nearby farm. The birds then drifted to a suburban area and died, best I can tell. Thanks to a driftless area correspondent for this story.

No comments: