Thursday, September 23, 2021

Starlings of a Feather in a Tree #ThursdayTreeLove

Earlier this week, spouse and I took a noontime walk in a local park.

We were walking and saw a cloud.  A cloud of birds.  There must have been hundreds of them.  They made a pattern in the sky, shifted direction, shifted direction again and then headed for the tops of a couple of trees.


These non-native birds have an interesting history.  They originally were found in Europe, but, in 1890/1891, a group of Shakespeare enthusiasts got the bright (not really) idea to take members of every bird species mentioned in Shakespeare's works and introduce them into the United States.  So, they took a group of around 100 starlings, brought them over from Europe, and set them loose in New York City's Central Park.

It took a couple of tries but the population started to grow. And spread throughout the United States.  And grow some more.

That original 100 have, over the years, increased to about 200 million. 

Fun fact, they were the only one of the "Shakespeare birds" to succeed here in North America. And, genetic testing has proved that starlings throughout our country are descendents of those first few in New York.

Starlings also behave how they do in the United Kingdom, where many European starlings migrate to for the winter. (The U.K. also has starlings, but they tend not to migrate. Our starlings also stay put, at least where I live.)

Which is where murmurations come in.

Starlings cab form large flocks of over a thousand birds.  Close to sundown, especially in November, they will all take off at once and create formations in the sky, beautiful to see. It's like clouds shifting instantly on an unheard command. How none of these birds crash into each other in those sudden directional challenges is still a mystery to scientists.   The patterns are breathtaking, a kind of air ballet.

I've just never seen them doing this in late September, or at times other than later in the day.  But when they do this during the afternoon, they will pick the tops of trees to rest in.  I watched these birds fly from one tree to the next to the next.

This was the tail end - I had to dig my phone out of my purse and took a picture right at the end.  At least there are trees in this picture so I decided to use it today.

Perhaps this was a practice run for November.

After I took this picture, they formed another cloud and a couple of sky patterns, and then left for parts unknown.

Birds love their trees, perhaps as much as we humans do.  I don't know what kind of trees these were, but the starlings knew.

Joining up every second and fourth Thursdays of the month for #ThursdayTreeLove, brought to us by Parul of the blog Happiness and Food.

Why not love a tree today?


  1. I love your connection with nature. /Carol C

  2. I could endlessly watch flock of birds on the wing. How do they avoid collisions? Here, all the geese families have taken to the air. It's so fun to see the progression. At first, the babies just manage to stay 'up'. Watching them avoid collisions is actually quite humorous! Then they start to incorporate a bit of verbal contribution. The families begin to combine. Then they fly higher. And higher. By November, when they head out for places warm (and, until they arrive, poop-less), the babies are indistinguishable from the adults!

  3. I know they are damaging to crops, but they sure are beautiful birds! I didn't know their history in the US. Mankind has brought so many invasive species in trying to "fix" natural "problems." Or just not thinking.

  4. Starling murmurations are really quite amazing.

  5. I love this post because I knew nothing about starlings! Shakespeare enthusiasts! Go figure! xoxox, Brenda

  6. That must have been a sight. Too bad you didn't take a video of it.

  7. Lovely! Birds Trees are interdependent i guess. We have some species of Starlings in our region also. And one sees several videos of their Murmurations in the season.. I havent yet seen that but would like to.

  8. I was staying in the Lake District recently and there were thousands of birds in a nearby tree, they were really noisy. Unfortunately I didn't get a good photo. I'm not sure what birds they were but I think they were bigger than starlings.

  9. Wow! I love your informative posts and those many birds. So beautiful. Birds live in the trees and that's a thought that makes me smile. Thank you Alana. I am so glad you took that walk and shared this with us. See you tomorrow.


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