My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris (I)

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris (I)

This is an introduced, invasive species of bird, and not one of my favorites. In fact, at one time I said that I would never post a photo of one here on my blog, but they are on my list, so to complete my project, I have to do this.

The only information I am going to post on these all too common birds is the story of how and why they were introduced to North America.

After two failed attempts, about 60 Common Starlings were released in 1890 into New York’s Central Park by Eugene Schieffelin. He was president of the American Acclimatization Society which tried to introduce every bird species mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare into North America. About the same date, the Portland Song Bird Club released 35 pairs of Common Starlings in Portland, Oregon. These birds became established but disappeared around 1902. Common Starlings reappeared in the Pacific Northwest in the mid 1940s and these birds were probably descendants of the 1890 Central Park introduction. The original 60 birds have since swelled in number to 150 million, occupying an area extending from southern Canada and Alaska to Central America.

On to my photos:

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling

European starling

European starling

This is number 66 in my photo life list, only 284 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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17 responses

  1. This was the species that taught me the meaning of “invasive species.” My Dad hated these birds with a passion and would shoot them on sight. I didn’t understand why he hated them so much until I learned more about them.

    March 25, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    • Well, on my uncles’ farms, they made great target practice as well, we shot them on sight also. They do eat insects which is helpful, but come fall when you’re harvesting corn, the huge flocks of starlings eat or spoil a lot of corn. I could never understand why any one would import them.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      • Because, Shakespeare! What better reason would one need?

        March 25, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      • That may be, but I have a hard time equating the noises coming from starlings with the fluid writings of Shakespeare.

        March 25, 2013 at 1:41 pm

  2. Invasive species are a problem everywhere, both plants and critters. The Pacific Coast is on guard for Japanese critters floating over from tsunami debris. Just the latest threat of so many.

    March 25, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    • You’re right, invasive species pose one of the greatest threats to our native species of both plants and animals. Many of most severe threats of late around here have arrived in the ballast tanks of ocean going freighters calling at Great Lakes ports.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:12 am

  3. I don’t know enough about these birds to have any strong feelings about them but I like that last shot and I like the way they flock together in huge numbers and move like schools of fish. It’s an amazing thing to see.

    March 25, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    • I’ll admit that seeing the flocks in action is something to see, until the flock descends on a wheat field just before you are about to harvest it.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:16 am

  4. I like starlings!

    March 25, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    • That’s OK, they’re native there, you’re welcome to all of ours that you want. 😉

      March 26, 2013 at 1:19 am

  5. Starlings are fun. They are such chatty singing creatures. I have four that come together and eat my woodpeckers suet. Hard to get mad at them.

    March 25, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    • I’ve heard a lot of sounds coming from starlings, but none that I would call singing.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:25 am

    • I’ve heard a lot of sounds coming from starlings, but none that I would call singing.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:25 am

  6. I’ve always been fond of Song Sparrows – I like the info you have on their songs. I remember hearing that they have more individual songs than some other birds, and it always seemed that way to me – at least it’s easier for my human ears to hear the difference between different Song Sparrow’s songs that say, different robin’s songs.

    March 30, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    • Thank you! They are one of my favorites too.

      March 31, 2013 at 1:00 am

  7. I put that comment in the wrong section – sorry!

    March 30, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    • No problem

      March 31, 2013 at 12:58 am