Baby starlings and blackbird nest building

19 May 2013

Sitting in our conservatory the other evening around 7.00pm, the bird activity was going on late, with various species zooming to and fro. I didn’t take too much notice at first of the starling on the ground near the bird feeder, as it’s such a common sight, but then I saw it approach another bird and appear to feed it. Grabbing the binoculars, the parent bird had two youngsters with it, both pestering for food; young starlings are very easy to recognise, as they are the same shape as the parents with the same strutting gait, but they are brown – it is some time before they start growing their adult feathers, which are most noticeable first on the breast, making them look to me as though they are wearing flash waistcoats.

The three starlings disappeared out of sight, but my eye was then caught by movement on the far side of the pond. We’d been scooping algae and moss out of the pond earlier, and it was sitting in small heaps on the side, where we leave it in the hope that any pondlife we’ve accidentally dredged out will find its way back. One of the piles was being energetically turned over by a female blackbird, and I assumed she was looking for food. A moment later, however, she straightened up with a beak full of muddy pond weed and flew off with it, towards the house, disappearing out of sight into a tangle of ivy and rose which grow over the top a very large water butt we’ve got (I’ll do a post on that soon, so you can see just how large). I watched for some time, and in the course of about half an hour, I saw her make nine return trips to the pond; when the piles of weed by the side ceased to provide nest-building material which met her approval, she started getting down into the pond. You have to realise at this point that our pond has become very overgrown over the years, and though we have cleared large sections out this year, other areas are so matted that they are nearly dry land, so she wasn’t actually going underwater. The male blackbird meantime, was also around, spending some time on the end of the cottage roof, watching her endeavours.

Black male pheasant

Black male pheasant

I haven’t yet managed to get any photos of the young starlings, but I thought you might enjoy this recent shot of one of our visiting black pheasants.

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