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Colour: The most you’ll find in a single bird

by Darren

Keeping with the theme of colour, and staying with starlings, here’s a portrait of one of these wonderful birds I really like.

I spent about three years working with them as often as I could and watched some outstanding and very funny behaviour.

When we lived in Leatherhead as many as 100 would sometimes turn up in the garden and reduce a block of fat to it’s little plastic holder in little more than two days, yet it was worth it be able to watch them.  I really like the way they turned up mob handed in a garden then squabbled amongst themselves even though an abundance of food was available.

They fit perfectly into the species that I’m most interested in when it comes to wildlife.  They are disliked because they’re noisy and because they tend to exclude smaller more timid garden birds which people like to see.  As I’ve mentioned already, they also have a habit of eating rather a lot of food if they all turn up at once.  To the casual viewer they appear dull and uninteresting.

And yet look closer or catch them on a day when there is wonderful warm light like there was on this occasion and you can see the vast range of colour that is present in their feathers.  They are such a sight to see, and watching an individual is just as rewarding to me as watching the impressive murmurations that I blogged about this morning.

Just one more thing.  this one’s wearing it’s winter coat.  Going in and out of the nest will wear those spots off the underbelly during spring and the feathers won’t be reappear until the starling returns from migration next winter, so if you see one with a plain front it’s still a starling.

I mention this because at first glance you’ll probably think it’s boring.  Go on, take another look.  Catch it in the right light and you’ll see those fabulous colours.  Who’d have thought the bird you’re watching was sturnus vulgaris, the common starling?

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