About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Starlings inspire New Year's resolutions for getting organized

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. Rachel Carson

Do you remember the first bird you saw of the New Year? I usually just like to observe birds casually and admire the wonder of nature. A glance out the window when I see a flutter or the twitter in the trees when I take short walk outside gives me a moment of peace. There is a way that nature speaks to us all.

So I was curious about the first bird I would see this year and if it would have meaning for me. January 1st was a quiet morning. Black Squirrels were everywhere foraging for food and eying my window feeder. After scolding them I gave them a few tree nuts to keep them away from the feeder. I thought maybe that would bring down a jay or two and that might be my first bird of the new year. But there were no jays or even the ever present House Sparrows surrounding the Wild Birds Unlimited store. Dolly (cat) and I played with all her new cat toys and the crinkly wrapping the gifts came in and waited.

Finally a whole wave of starlings dropped from the sky to pick through the grass for food. European Starlings are black birds that grow white tips on their feathers in the fall that make them look like they are speckled with stars. The tips wear off by spring revealing sleek black feathers that reflect rainbows. They are hardy birds that were brought to New York from England in the 1800s and quickly spread throughout the United States. In the fall impressive flocks gather in the thousands to perform graceful synchronized aerial murmuration dances. The swoop and sweep of thousands of starlings before they settle down for the night is one of nature's most spectacular sights, and still something of a mystery to birdwatchers.

I usually see the starlings hanging out on telephone wires or forming shapes in the sky above Meijers store across the street. They aren't my usual customers at or below my feeders in the winter. What could seeing starlings mean? As the starlings fly in a murmuration they coordinate complicated movements while in flight. Their well organized flocks made me think it was a sign that this is the year I will become more efficient.

I looked around the Wild Birds Unlimited store and immediately a sketch for a new layout swirled into focus. It's exciting to start the new year fresh. After 15 years in business we might have gotten a little stagnant. My plans are still in the works but Dolly (cat) and I are working hard to make the store better!

Watch thousands of starlings form shapes in the air: https://youtu.be/7PefkaCrTI4?t=41

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