Photograph by Hideta Nagai, My Shot
Birds returning to roost for the evening can sometimes be a frantic and chaotic event. Some miss their targets, while neighborhood squabbles are frequent on the crowded wire. This one (the hanging one) landed slightly off-balance and found itself in an unflattering position. The moment was fleeting and the bird quickly released itself to attempt another landing.
“No one knows why they do it. Yet each fall, thousands of starlings dance in the twilight above Gretna, Scotland. The birds gather in magical shape-shifting flocks called murmurations, having migrated in the millions from Russia and Scandinavia to escape winter’s bite. Scientists aren’t sure how they do it, either. Even complex algorithmic models haven’t yet explained the starlings’ acrobatics, which rely on the tiny bird’s quicksilver reaction time of under 100 milliseconds to avoid aerial collisions—and predators—in the giant flock.”
On January 8, Walter and Robert Kirk, farmer boys living near here, captured a Starling which has taken refuge in their barn. I was unable to identify the bird from their description of it over the telephone, but when it was brought to me I readily identified it, as I had been watching its progress west. Needless to say, I was somewhat surprised to see it here. Bird-Lore Christmas census for 1914 reports it for West Chester and White Marsh Valley, Pa.
So far as I know, this is the first record of the Starling for Ohio, and it may be the first west of the Alleghany Mountains. This seems a long ‘jump’ westward for any bird in so short a time, especially considering the mountains it would have to cross.
I have no doubt as to the identity of the bird, but have taken photographs in case of any question.—Sheridan F. Wood, West La Fayette, Ohio.
- From Bird-Lore, March/April issue, 1916
Be sure to check out the website to filmmaker Richard Smedley’s upcoming documentary about the European Starling in America.