Monday, July 12, 2010

"Hello" Starling

I have yet to share the most recent member of our menagerie :) Her name is Starry, and she fell into our lives on Mother’s Day. She’s a European starling whose parents chose a precarious nesting site two stories above our cement porch.

One by one her siblings fell and died—it was awful. When Starry fell, I wrapped her in a towel and expected the worst. She didn’t move for hours, but her little heart kept beating. Gradually, there was movement, and eventually, she was making hunger signs.

My emotions swung from sadness to panic--her nest was unreachable and obviously not a safe choice. She was only a week old and just getting feathers—she needed constant care, and I had as much baby-bird knowledge as her parents had nesting-site knowledge.

I was worried about dehydration, so we used an eye dropper to give her some water, then I accessed the Internet: I immediately read that you should NEVER give baby starlings water, which they can inhale, thereby contracting pneumonia or drowning.

I read further, discovering that starlings are insectivores and can be fed dry dog food soaked in water. We decided to throw in ground worms for good measure. After feeding her, I read some more and discovered that you should NEVER give starlings worms, because they carry parasites.

Thank goodness she survived a deadly fall so that we could imperil her life multiple times.

Finally, after reading ALL the information, I found a dog-food recipe specifically geared to the nutritional needs of baby starlings. I purchased necessary ingredients and combined them in the specific quantities required. Starry is thriving…despite us.

She flies freely through the house now and has become part of the family. We’ll never be able to release her, because we began caring for her during the crucial bonding period—she imprinted on us, not Starlings.

My husband isn’t pleased, but the kids are thrilled. I haven’t told D that starlings can live 15-20 years…he’s not ready to handle that information yet.

An old college prof. chastised me thoroughly for saving Starry’s life—he’d be quite happy if I tossed her to my cats. European starlings are not native to the United States and the bane of bird enthusiasts everywhere. They’re highly adaptive and prolific, interfering with endemic species across the US.

They also help control insects, a fact not taken lightly by farmers. If you view massive flocks of birds imitating schools of fish in agricultural areas, you’re probably viewing starlings.

Our Starry won’t affect the argument one way or the other, because she will never leave our house. But on her behalf, she’s incredibly smart, affectionate, resilient, adaptable and funny…if catastrophe befalls the earth, rats and cockroaches won’t be the only species surviving.


tournesol said...

Wow, how fun to have a bird flying around the house! I witnessed a baby bird falling from a nest too, so sad. That one didn't survive. So fragile and precious.

Anonymous said...

SOunds like the time we has a bird fall from our huge Maple tree in the backyard... we fed it baby parakeet formula mixed with ground worms (uh oh) It was like having a baby in the house - every 2 hours - CHIRP CHIRP. We also fed it with an eyedropper... it was so cute. Luckily, we found the nest about 2 days later and but it back with it's siblings :o) It was fun having them around.... Hugs to all :o)K - Snoqualmie :o)