The daily squabbling early morning visitors are now in full voice. Each morning a mob invades the feeders and crowds into the bird table. Fortunately for the Blackbirds and other ground feeders Starlings are in such a hurry to grab food before anyone else that a fair proportion ends up being scattered all over the place.
For a bird which is sociable enough to gather in thousands for their nightly roost they spend an awful lot of time squabbling when food is in the offing.
(If you have never seen the spectacle of thousands of Starlings gathering for the nightly roost then nip over to The Heart of the Levels Wildlife Group HERE for a spectacular video of the event.)
The other day Matron of Down on the Allotment asked me an interesting question: "... do you know what are the starlings nearest relative?" It was a subject I had never considered so I had a look round the internet.
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica they are in the family Sturnidae, order Passeriformes which consists of Starlings, Mynas and Oxpeckers. The latter seems to be open to question with some authorities. There are many different Starlings around the world. So it would appear they are not related to any other type of native British bird but to Myna birds.
There is a list on Wikipedia.
As Matron said - it is not surprising that Starlings and Mynas are related as both are very good mimics of other birds and of sounds around them. I remember years ago when trim phones were popular that Starlings would spend ages imitating the sound. Once they have had their fill things calm down and many roost in the Leylandii at the bottom of the garden where they make an almost endless succession of quiet whistles, peeps and various other sounds until they are ready for their second helpings.
Another bird which has a fascinating range when it comes to mimicking other sounds was shown on television last night in the David Attenborough Life - Birds programme. One Bower Bird not only imitated other bird calls but could also make the sound of a Pigeon flapping its wings. There is a video clip HERE on the BBC site.
Standen House - dressed for Christmas
2 hours ago