Starling

Starling was introduced into America by Eugene Schieffelin in the last decade of the twentieth century. He was, at the time, the president of the American Acclimatization Society, an organization that believed that it would be useful to introduce foreign species of plants and animals into America. Today, most scientists regard this to have been erroneous thinking and regard Mr. Schieffelin as having been something of a crackpot. Starling, in particular, is regarded to have been a biological error of massive proportions. Large flocks of Starling push native birds out of their nesting habitat, pose dangers to aircraft, irritate humans with their loud chatter, and often cause significant crop damage. Many who live in urban areas find Starling poop to be a particular nuisance.

Here in The Sea Ranch, we do not see large numbers of Starling and we do not believe that he is causing a whole lot of trouble locally. (He appears to like the excitement of the megapolis more than the quiet setting of the seashore.) Once you get past his reputation, you will see a rather dramatic black bird with white spots. These spots of white are on the ends of black feathers. They are not separate white feathers. During the year, Starling looses his spots as the ends of the feathers are worn off and he turns increasingly black until new feathers grow in the spring. The ornithologists call this "wear molt." Not very many birds change their appearance in this manner.

Starling is common around the world and is well represented in myth and literature. Of all of the literary references, however, the most important is that by William Shakespeare in his Henry IV. The fellow who brought Starling to America in the 1890s, Eugene Schieffelin, was a Shakespeare buff and he specifically made it his life's work to bring all of the birds mentioned by Shakespeare to New York City. Starling was his single most important achievement. Nobody really knows how many Starlings live in America today, but it is certainly well into the millions. It is one of the few birds that federal, state and local governments actively attempt to eliminate through control programs.

A flock of Starling is called a Murmuration of Starling.
That's very appropriate, but we suggest that a
Galaxy of Starling should also be considered.