A lot of birders cringe when European starlings appear at their feeders, but in this deep part of winter, I welcome their diversion. Not only is it wonderful to have another winged visitor, but one with such spritely energy and industriousness is inspiring when the winter doldrums settle in.
A week or two ago, a flock of starlings descended on the yard for a few minutes, focusing their attention on the bare patch of ground that had appeared on the south side of the neighbors' yard, just north of my kitchen window. Maybe they were finding insects, or unearthing seeds, or just exploring grass - where has it been for so long? - but every inch of the terrain came under their probing scrutiny. They were climbing and stumbling over one another in their rush to check another patch, yet none got agitated or annoyed; they just kept looking for stuff, as finding stuff is the goal of a starling's existence. A few ventured into my shadier and still snow-covered patch, including getting a sip at the heated bird bath, but within just a few minutes, they'd satisfied themselves in their treasure hunting and moved on to greener - and presumably more stuff-filled - pastures.
I'm sure my pastures will be greener soon, and seeing how the starlings make do so fabulously with so little, I'll be sure to make my yard even more bird-friendly so they have more to explore and more to find when they return. Stuff awaits!