Avian Rich Littles

I’ve been hearing the call of a killdeer lately, both day and night. We live not too far from some open fields, but it’s still not a bird I’ve regularly seen around our yard. This has been puzzling me.

I’ve long been fascinated and amused by the chatter of European starlings. What a cacophony in the mornings and, especially, evenings! Sure, they’re dirty birds. And, yes, they’re major pests to farmers and can clean out our own feeders in no time flat when they take a mind to swarm into the yard, but they’re still amusing birds. They put me in mind of a bunch of old ladies gossiping over at the beauty shop.

This morning, a couple of starlings flew up and perched on our open casement window, maybe three feet from my head, and one of them began yammering away. Right in the middle of his repertoir came a very familiar sound…A killdeer’s cry.

Ah ha! I don’t know where I’ve been, but I never realized it was starlings doing it. I thought maybe it was a grey catbird (since we haven’t seen any northern mockingbirds around our neighborhood) but it was the goofy starling all along.

Speaking of mimicks, mockingbirds are just incredible. Last summer, when we went to Tennessee for the first annual Dave’s Garden Roundup, we tent-camped beneath a few scrawny trees. A mockingbird serenaded us much of the time we were there, day and night. What a treat it was to hear him go through over a dozen different bird songs, plus throw in his own embellishments. It was amazing. I would not want one camped outside my bedroom window during breeding season, however.

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