Starlings are not the favorite bird of many birders, and I was not particularly fond of them. Despite their greenish tinged speckled black coats they are not well liked because they have multiplied fast and driven out many other smaller bird species.
Brought to Central Park in New york City, in the late 1800’s by a man who wanted to bring all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works to the US., the Starlings proceeded to expand outward in ever increasing waves. Now they are spread over most of the US where they merrily go on expanding. So I was quite surprised to find quite another side to the Starlings — they can produce some spectacularly choreographed winged dance movements.
One afternoon I was at one of my favorite sites, looking for Harriers when I noticed an accumulation of birds, Starlings, festooning the lines on a nearby power pole
Wondering what that was all about, I went on to where I thought the Harriers might be and perched on my Walkstool with my camera in my lap. Behind me was a vineyard, its green leaves already assuming the vibrant colors of autumn.
Gradually I became aware of a faint, low-pitched murmuring sound behind me, and then without warning, a subtle pressure pushed against my back. Startled I turned into a rush of hundreds of silent birds – the Starlings – flying through the vineyard behind me on murmuring wings. I barely managed to capture a single usable image before they were off in a great cloud sinking down between the rows.
Abandoning my interest in the Harriers for the moment I turned to see that the Starlings had formed a huge cloud. Unfortunately I had only my long telephoto lens with me – my other lenses were in my car – so I was only able to capture a part of the cloud.
And then come back to rest on the power lines again.
I was awestruck. I had seen videos of Starling Mumurations on England but never expected to see them on the West coast of the U.S.
I cannot say that I wholeheartedly embrace the Starlings and their presence in the U.S. but I can certainly see why they attracted Shakespeare’s attention. Sometime I am going to look up which of his plays they were in and what he had to say about them.
But perhaps one of you know??