Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shining Stars

I had some welcome guests in the yard a few days ago, guests that many backyard birders scorn and shun but who are always appreciated in my yard: European starlings. Colorful, energetic, and perky, they were amusing to watch as they poked through the exposed mulch from melting snow and their cacophony of chatter was a welcome din to mask the bland traffic noises to which I am so accustomed in this urban area. While part of the flock foraged in my yard, another part feasted on the bounty that is my neighbor's golden delicious apple tree and the leftover fruit that has nicely over-ripened through the winter (which is a fantastic reason to have fruit trees for birds as part of your wildlife landscaping).

I know I'm fortunate with European starlings; I don't ever succumb to the massive flocks that many birders face, and for the most part, my starling visitors rarely touch my bird feeders - even when they're stocked with tempting hulled sunflower seeds, as they are all winter. I can completely understand the frustration of putting out plentiful seed only to have it vacuumed up by these greedy gobblers, but even with their voracious appetites they're still fine birds to witness. At the very least, they were a welcome addition to my backyard for the little while they stayed, particularly when my local flocks are quite bland and predictable this time of year. Spring may be on the way, but until it arrives the starlings do tend to be some shining stars in my avifauna assembly.

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