A pair of starlings, Sturnus vulgaris, on the Nethermead were locked in combat the other day. Literally locked, as one had the other’s legs in its grasp. The fight went on and on, until the captive one either broke free or the captor relented. Then they flew off in the same direction, and it looked all the world like a chase. The four of us who saw it, all experienced birders, had never seen anything like it before. (Keep these images in mind for my upcoming post on Walton Ford, who birds his paintings with many a starling.)

We can thank William Shakespeare for the presence of starlings in the North America. An Eurasian species, they were introduced here because some idjits wanted all the birds mentioned in the Bard to be around us. First Henry IV, I.3, Hotspur: “Nay, I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak/Nothing but “Mortimer,” and give it him/To keep his anger still in motion.” (Starlings being the poor man’s myna bird, fine mimics.)

4 Responses to “Starlings”

  1. 1 Out Walking the Dog April 18, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Oh. My. God. And here I’d just been musing on how the starlings I see are so sociable and voluble yet peaceable, as opposed to the many robins I witness getting into altercations with each other. But I’ve never seen anything like this! Wow. I’m gonna have freaking nightmares about that wee leg gripped by that fierce little talon! Thanks a lot, Matthew.

    • 2 mthew April 18, 2011 at 9:57 am

      Starlings can be quite aggressive, but I’ve always seen them working against other species: this time of year, they are working to take nesting sites from woodpeckers, blue birds, and other cavity nesters.

  2. 3 Robert Tracy June 17, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Ive seen swans fighting for hours over breeding areas .when they cant drown one and other they come ashore and continue there . as the Earth grew colder dynarsores just grew feathers . I think they are the most advanced animal in the world including man .

  1. 1 Starling Excavation « Backyard and Beyond Trackback on March 25, 2012 at 5:40 pm

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