Exploring Nature: European Starling

European starlings have a great talent for mimicry, they can make siren noises and even mimic music to a degree.

Sturnus vulgaris is the Latin term for the European starling. It is one of the kinder names used to describe this much-maligned bird.

Many folks consider starlings a nuisance and decry the fact they sometimes drive bluebirds from a nest box and take it over. However, such behavior is rare and all in all, starlings generally behave as well as grackles, crows and other large black birds.

Plus, if you look closely, they have some colorful, iridescent plumage that includes shades of violet, green and blue. On males, the base of the bill is blue, and on females the base of the bill is pink – most appropriate, no?

Starlings are good parents and make up to 400 trips a day to collect food for their young.

This is also a bird with great talent for mimicry. It can imitate the sound of a police siren, truck reversal tones, hens, telephones and bicycle bells. It is particularly adept at imitating other birds.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart kept a pet starling and the bird became adept at singing various musical themes written by the great composer. When the bird died, Mozart held a formal funeral service in his back garden and read a mournful poem written just for the occasion.

Today, the European starling is increasingly rare in its native Europe, but it is doing fine in the U.S., with an estimated 200 million birds and holding steady.

This is a handsome bird with a lot of sass and personality. It is resourceful, inventive and intelligent, as well as sometimes frustrating. Just like a lot of humans.

San Marcos Daily Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666