Starling Shenanigans and a Bold Blue Tit

Young starling

Dear Readers, after the first few fledgling starlings arrived in my East Finchley garden on Friday, there was a brief lull before it seemed as if hundreds arrived on Sunday morning. What a racket! As I sat having my coffee, I began to be able to distinguish between the different calls. There’s the ‘feed me’ call of the young starling, which is uttered whenever a likely-looking adult flies over head or arrives nearby.

Feed me!

Then there’s the call that an adult makes when it’s trying to find its offspring in the mass of infants. It’s very clear that while the youngsters will beg from anyone with a yellow beak and iridescent plumage, the adults are only going to feed their own offspring, thank you very much.

There’s the general all purpose squawking and arguing from the adults as they mob the bird table.

And, saddest of all, there’s the continuous, plaintive wheezing cry of a bird in the jaws or talons of a predator. I haven’t seen this in my garden so far this fledgling-season, but I did hear it in a garden a few doors down. Although the adults are ultra-aware of cats or sparrowhawks, their alarm calls don’t always cause their youngsters to fly into the trees as instructed. I suspect that the slow learners don’t get many chances. This one, for example, sat there after the alarm call sent all the other birds into the hawthorn.

Luckily it was only a jackdaw, who was more interested in the newly-filled bird table.

Young starlings do learn, though: if they have to wait too long to be fed they start to peck at anything that looks unusual, and a few are already learning to feed from the bird table, though the suet feeders will require more dexterity. They seem to already know how to drink, and there was an adult on the bird bath, teaching the children how to bathe. I love how one of them seems to be taking it all in.

 

The racket, though! Holy moly. At least it’s only for a few days.

And then there was this blue tit. Blue tits are nesting in a box high up on my neighbours’ wall, and when my elderly cat popped out for a walk one of them lost no time in telling her off. How brave they are! This one was positively puffed up with rage, and kept getting lower and lower down the jasmine in order to make sure that the message that the cat was Not Welcome was heard. I think Willow must have got the message, because she turned tail and strolled nonchalantly back indoors.

Angry blue tit takes no nonsense from cat

And so the next highlight/cause for anxiety will be when the baby blue tits leave the nest, which will probably be in the next couple of days. Is there anything more adorable or vulnerable than the ball of fluff that is a fledgling blue tit? Fingers crossed that the predators don’t notice…

4 thoughts on “Starling Shenanigans and a Bold Blue Tit

  1. Fran & Bobby Freelove

    We have Blue Tits nesting for the third year in a hole in the brickwork next to the kitchen window. The cat sits inside watching them fly in and can’t understand why they don’t come straight through into the kitchen. You’d have thought he’d have learn by now, but oh no, he’s for ever hopeful.

    Reply
  2. Anne

    There is much excitement in your garden right now. I am constantly reminded that we tend to overlook what is on our doorstep because we assume everything is ‘happening’ elsewhere. This is an interesting record.

    Reply
  3. Vinod

    It’s easy to forget just how lively starlings can be. Here in North America, they are an introduced invasive and are viewed with a jaundiced eye, at worst out-competing native birds for food and nesting sites, at best helping sustain urban peregrine falcons and Cooper’s hawks. It’s good to be occasionally reminded of their attractive glossy plumage, bright yellow bill and rowdy ways.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.