Friday, February 01, 2008

a flock of starlings

I was returning from an errand at lunchtime today to my workplace when a flock of starlings caught my eye. I admired how they moved as one, although there seemed to be a small fringe flock that didn't quite assimilate into the bigger flock. Teenagers maybe? :)

Then, suddenly, the entire flock took a dive. And there was not a bit of individual dissent about it; they all just dove. Then I saw an accipiter, probably a sharp shinned hawk, fly into the midst of the flock. I could not tell if the hawk was successful in obtaining a starling meal, I just saw the flock make an abrupt retreat in unison.

Wow. The timing also amazes me, since I rarely if ever witness stuff like this at the feeder at work.

Also this day I heard a great horned owl hooting just before dawn, saw not one but two pileated woodpeckers flying, and spotted a red tailed hawk on my drive home, way off in a pasture where she/he was just a hint of white. Birds are amazing.

I am currently reading "Mind of the Raven" by Bernd Heinrich. All the more evidence that birds know more than we give them credit for.


Lynne said...

I love that book! I have another of his but can't remember the title. I'll look it up and let you know. I really enjoy it when you share what you see when you're out and about.

MojoMan said...

I also like Bernd Heinrich's books. (Even if I can't pronounce his first name. Is he related to Bret Favre?) Two favorites are "A Year in the Maine Woods" and "The Trees in My Forest".

I hate starlings and like to imagine a sharpie nailing a few because their nests are so messy when the build in the eaves and they out-compete the beloved bluebird for cavities, but even I could imagine how, in their native habitats, they could be pretty cool creatures.

pablo said...

I stepped outside this morning just before dawn and heard a cardinal singing away merrily up in a tree somewhere. It wasn't yet above freezing, and the sun was only a suggestion in the east, but the cardinal didn't seem to care.

JMikes said...

Starlings are one of those birds that can inspire some serious loathing, like the house sparrow. I've always kind of liked them because they can be very pretty, even in the dull light we've had for the last several days. But if I were a wood duck or an airline pilot I might think differently.

Deb said...

Lynne- Thanks. Heinrich is a gifted writer.

Mojoman- Bernd Favre. Now there's a name!

Yes, I was actually rooting for the sharpie.

Pablo- Are they starting to sing spring-like songs? I saw a male cardinal at the feeder at work today, almost thirty miles south which seems to make a lot of difference.

JMikes- Yes, they are a love/hate kind of bird. They sure can vocalize.

And I saw the flock in some aspens near work today, vocalizing like crazy. I'm guessing the sharp shinned wasn't too far away.