Bedlam at the Bird Feeder

Starling murmurations are one of nature's great sights and the winter months are the best time to see them in the UK. Native starlings will be bolstered by European migrants to create the numbers needed for the large displays (up to millions of birds) that are a feature of the late afternoon/early evening winter skies. At the moment, it is the home-grown starlings that are a bit of a nuisance at the bird feeder (see Video 1).

Video 1: Starlings mobbing our bird feeder

The adult starling is an attractive bird but they can be a bit of a pest as they move around in gangs. The easily observable social order of house sparrows (young birds wait until the adults have finished feeding) seems less prevalent with starlings where the feeding frenzy is every bird for themselves (Video 1).

The size of the starling group can vary from a single bird ...

Video 2: Young starling on bird feeder

to more than thirty (see if you can count how many?) ...

Video 3: How Many Starlings? 

I enjoy bird watching not for the ticking off of the number of species seen (though I wouldn't mind seeing a hoopoe) but for behavioural observation. Sometimes this is easier to do using slow-motion video ...

Video 4: Slo-mo Starling Action

Starlings are social birds so they roost, feed, nest, and murmurate in large communities; unlike most of the other birds visiting the bird feeder (e.g. blue tits, great tits, blackbirds, wood pigeons, ring-necked doves, chaffinches, sparrows) which comprise mainly family groups.


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