Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

April 27, 2013

European Starling at the birdbath

Filed under: backyard, behavior, Birds — richditch @ 11:16 am
European Starling

European Starling

As an American birder I must confess that I have a low opinion of the European Starling, a species introduced to the United States by well meaning people in the 1800’s. An account of this introduction is contained in The Birder’s Handbook (Ehrlich, Dodkin,Wheye):

The first two attempts to introduce the European Starling into North America failed. The third did not, and what has followed since those 60 starlings were released in 1890 in New York City’s Central Park has ornithologists alternately astounded, puzzled, and infuriated.

To most birders, starlings are seen as a pest species that has displaced native species by stealing nesting locations. Starlings are so successful in the U.S. that they can be found almost everywhere that people can be found.

When we came to Phoenix, AZ, we didn’t see as many starlings as we had throughout NJ. And we never saw them in our yard until about 3-4 years ago when a single bird showed up on a large Saguaro cactus in our neighbor’s front yard. This bird quickly discovered the running water in our backyard water feature.

European Starling

European Starling

Since then the number has grown to three birds. They visit our water feature multiple times each day to bathe. I must admit that I’m growing more fond of this species as it splashes about and appears to thoroughly enjoy itself. We never noticed this behavior in NJ, but we didn’t have a water feature with running water there and we didn’t look at them other than to check them off a day list when we saw them.

We now see these birds arrive at the water feature in a group to take turns in the water. Each then flies up to a branch to shake off the excess. During migration we see an occasional warbler attracted to the running water, and sometimes the warbler will take a bath. Otherwise it is just the doves who visit the water for a drink but never bathe.

Both images were taken on April 4, 2013, between 8:00 and9:00 am with a Nikon D300 and a Nikkor 300/2.8 AF-S lens mounted on a tripod. The images are taken through the patio glass (which causes some loss of detail, and a bigger lose in contrast which can be mostly compensated for in post processing). Exposure was ISO 800, 1/125th second at f/4. The images are cropped about 20-25%.


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