This is the first in what will be a regular series of posts, each of which will feature a new species of softbilled bird. Our first featured bird is the European starling.
If you live just about anywhere in the United States then you probably are familiar with this bird. Ever seen massive flocks of black birds, and I mean so massive that it looks like a moving undulating black cloud? Chances is are that black cloud was a flock of European starlings.
The black bird pictured above is a European starling, housed in an aviary along with various other species of bird. The bird to the right of him is a lineolated parakeet.
As familiar as these birds are to US residents they are not a native species. European starlings were…you guessed it, brought over from Europe, though they are also native to Western Asia. So how exactly did starlings get here? Well someone (specifically a group called the American Acclimatization Society) decided it would be a great idea to introduce all of the birds in shakespeare’s works to North America. If you want to read more about that story and more on starlings here is a link for you to visit: Shakespeare to Blame for Introduction of Europeans Starlings to US.
While some may consider the starlings to be annoyingly noisy, I find their calls to be quite interesting and generally pleasant. These birds are in the same family as the myna birds; sturnidae, and they are capable mimics, both of other birds, and also of the human voice.
While most people would probably never think of keeping one of these birds as a pet, and many are likely not even aware they can be kept as pets, there are those whom do indeed keep these birds, and in many places they are legal to be kept. You may sometimes hear them referred to as “the poor man’s myna” and if you’ve seen the prices of myna birds lately, then you would know why. A great resource for those interested in keeping European starlings is:
European Starling Classification: