Bird alarm calls

13 May 2013

I was sitting having lunch in the conservatory when I became aware of an unusual amount of noise from the birds : both a starling and a blackbird were making noises which weren’t quite out-and-out alarm calls, but certainly ones indicating they were unsettled. I went out to have a look round, but couldn’t see anything, so I settled back to lunch – and it started again. Going out once more, I spotted the starling, sitting on top of our garage, and as I watched him he opened his beak and made a blackbird alarm call followed by some starling noises, followed by another blackbird alarm sound! 

three starlings on the bird feeder

Starlings on the bird feeder

I had come across the idea that starlings were good mimics before. There used to be a TV gardening guru called Geoffrey Smith, and at some point I bought a book of his. I can’t remember anything of the gardening advice he gave, but what really stuck in my mind was his tale of how the starlings used to confuse his dog by imitating Geoffrey’s “come here” whistle to the dog. The poor thing apparently was totally taken in, and used to tear round the garden to find Geoffrey, only to be very confused that he wasn’t wanted.

I wonder what the blackbirds made of it.

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