Monday, 27 May 2013

The Starling Nursery

So, Spring is running about a month late in the UK and all the animals and plants are in a mad scramble to produce their offspring. None more so than our local starlings. Once a common bird, the UK starlings are now in decline. All through the long hard winter we have tried to help keep our little local flock going and in the last few days they have rewarded us by bringing their newly fledged offspring into our small garden.

There have been young starlings everywhere and in the warm sunshine they like to do nothing better than bathe - and they bathe and bathe until they empty the bird bath and the two auxiliary bowls that we have put out.

The youngsters, as you can see below, lack the dark plumage and bright yellow bills of their parents. Instead they are pale brown, with a lighter patch around their eyes and speckled breasts. They are also a little silly... and don't show the necessary fear of human beings; they don't fly very well and one or two even got too wet to take off.

Their parents are shoveling food into their mouths although the fledglings are also increasingly foraging for themselves and the whole flock has gone through thirteen balls of fat and several shovel-loads of grain just today. The only down-side to all this activity is that they are very noisy. There are contact calls and begging calls going on from dawn to dusk. Scream, scream. scream!

But the flock - if they can keep the silly fledglings protected - has the chance to double in size.

Anyway, here they are.

'Feed me!'

Bath time


One bedraggled fledgling.

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