Tag Archives: European starling

Creation: Violet-backed Starling

Cinnyricinclus leucogaster

Violet-backed Starling1Violet-backed Starling2Photos taken by FaredinAliyevski in Frederiksberg, Region Hovedstaden, Denmark.

The Violet-backed Starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster), also known as the Plum-coloured Starling or Amethyst Starling, is a relatively small species of starling in the Sturnidae family.

This strongly sexually dimorphic species (which means the males and females of the same species look very different) is found widely in woodland of mainland sub-Saharan Africa.

Here’s a female Violet-backed Starling:

female Violet-backed Starling

H/t Project Noah

See also my account of the European Starling I’d rescued, “A starling named Oliver.”


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The thief who stole from a car wash

Bill owns a company that manufactures and installs car wash systems. These are complete systems that include not just the washing-drying-waxing machines, but also the money changer and money-taking machines.

Bill’s company installed a car wash system in Frederick, Maryland. The problem started when the new owner complained to Bill that he was losing significant amounts of money from his coin machines each week.

So they set up a video cam….

Look at the picture above again.

That’s a bird sitting on the change slot of the machine!

The bird had to go down into the machine, and back up inside to get to the coins!

It’s a starling!

That’s three quarters he has in his beak!

Another amazing thing is that it was not just one bird — there were several working together. Once the humans identified the thieves, they found over $4,000 in quarters on the roof of the car wash and more under a nearby tree.

This gives new meaning to the term “nest egg”! 😀

And to think the expression “bird brain” is associated with being dumb. Not these birds. In fact, starlings are among the most intelligent of birds.

H/t FOTM’s beloved moxielouise!

See also my post on the baby starling I rescued, here.


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Creation: A starling named Oliver

It was my last semester of teaching before leaving the university and my tenured full professorship.

Summer had just begun. I was sitting outside my townhouse under a tall fir tree, grading final exam essays.

Suddenly, I heard the harsh “Ca Ca” call of an European starling. My instincts told me those were a mother’s distressed cries.

I ran to my back patio to investigate. Sure enough, a baby starling was on the ground, having fallen from his high nest in a hole under the eaves of the roof of the townhouse. He was only a week old and couldn’t yet walk, much less fly. His right leg had broken from the fall and hung limply by his side.

The next morning, I found a clump of blood in the improvised home I had made for him from a wire box. Miraculously, “Baby” had lived through the night.

Like all baby starlings, he had all black feathers, with a big yellow-lined beak.
Truth be told, he was so homely, only a mother could love him!

I hand fed Baby a gruel of Kaytee baby-bird powder formula mixed with the mango sherbet I had in the freezer. I would dip the end of a Q-tip into the gruel, pry open his beak and dab the glob of gruel into his mouth. He was a quick learner. After the first day, Baby opened wide his beak as soon as I pointed the Q-tip at him.

Three weeks passed. I was convinced I should set him free.

So I went onto my back porch and placed him on a low branch of a nearby tree. Baby just perched there but made no attempt to fly. When I stretched my hand out at him, he gaped, wanting to be fed.

I immediately scooped him into my hands, saying “You’re not ready to be on your own!”

Another week passed. I made a second effort to release him “into the wild.”

As I descended the stairs from my upstairs bedroom with Baby, I was sobbing as I whispered goodbye. My heart was broken. Tears streamed down my face, with each big drop falling on Baby cradled in my hands.

I went out the front door to the side of the townhouse beneath tall fir trees. I opened my cupped hands and Baby flew onto a nearby branch. Then he flew up and up into the tall tree until I couldn’t see him anymore.

At that moment, my phone rang. So I dashed into the townhouse to answer the phone. It was my husband. I told him about releasing Baby. He remonstrated me — that Baby would never survive “in the wild” because he’d been hand fed by me and wouldn’t know how to find food for himself.

In a panic, I dashed back out and craned to catch a sight of my starling. No sight of him.

“Baby! Baby! Baby!,” I cried.

Down flew my little starling!

That was it. Baby is coming home. We will never be separated again. Ever.

Baby continued to be hand fed — for a total of three months!

Renamed “Oliver,” my starling is a joy. A talented mimic, he sings like a canary, finch, and lovebird — who are his companions in neighboring big “cages” (we prefer to call them bird townhouses).

Did you know that starlings love to bathe? I didn’t either.

Oliver loves to take baths in the large bowl I fill with fresh water every morning. When I first discovered he likes taking baths, I refilled the bowl again and again. He took a total of SEVEN baths that day!

Here’s another picture I took of Oliver, perched on my left hand. Look at the iridescent colors and spots on his feathers! We’re in my bathroom. Behind him is a mosaic tile I’d made of the Russian Orthodox warrior saint, Demetrius.

Remember that broken right leg?

It healed itself after two months. There’s not a thing wrong with the leg or with any other part of Oliver.

I call him “my miracle birdie.” 😀

Update (Oct. 31, 2018):

Oliver Baby is now more than 12 years old!


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