One morning in late May. I was out in the shed working on some bird houses. It was cold and rainy, and the rain was coming down pretty heavy. The yard was full of birds. There was a lot of European Starlings with their young. Oh those squawky young birds chasing their mommies around for food. Bottomless pits!
I am moving about the shed, hammering some nest boxes together when suddenly I sense I am not alone. I stop, look around and spot this bird sitting there watching me.
I was a little stunned for a moment but then highly amused. My initial "what's wrong here?" disappeared as I watched him watch me, then shake the rain off himself, preen, look at me again, squawk, and repeat.
I finished up what I was doing. The noise and my movements did not bother him in the least.
I talked to him and he looked at me rather curiously. He tilted his head from one side to the other. I asked him where his mommy was. I talked about the crappy weather we were experiencing. And then I lost the fight to not put my hand towards him. I kneeled down and put my finger tips to his toes and as soon as we connected, he stepped on.
I now stood up and he stayed on. I held him to the open double doors, looking out to the yard. He wasn't interested in going back out there. I gabbed away to him a little bit more. I took a couple short videos, a few "cellfies" and then enjoyed a few more minutes with him in total silence. I just watched him. He preened himself on my finger tips and occasionally let out another squawk.
I couldn't resist the "cellfie" as I call these photos.
Looking out at his family and friends.
The morning was moving fast. I had somewhere I needed to be with those bird houses, even with all the rain coming down. I moved him over to the handle of my lawn mower. He stepped down like he knew I needed to go.
I told him he should go see his family now. I told him he couldn't stay in here all day. I gathered up the nest boxes, leaving the shed doors open and started walking up the yard, heading to the truck. I walked backwards so I could see what or if anything was going to happen, preferably returning to his family. And he did just that. He flew out of the shed and to the nearby trees, squawking a few times, and then he disappeared from my sight.
What a wonderful experience this was on such a dismal day. I will remember it for many years to come, that I am sure.
He may have been a young and naive bird but obviously he was pretty darn smart to know where to go to get out of the rain for a while. I can't help but feel a little honoured with what happened. Sure Starlings aren't high on any birder's list and even I get frustrated when they dominate the bird feeders some days. But we connected, our two worlds met for a brief moment, we were just two living souls and not man and bird. That's the best way I can describe it.
I know I grinned through much of my work shift later that day.
I look at all the young Starlings still about the backyards and wonder which one is him.
Perhaps the next rainy morning we have I will open those shed doors once again and see what happens?
I posted one of the videos on my YouTube channel, even as I put my hand out of the shed doors with him still on my fingers, he never left. Video here.
I expect some to frown upon this but he came to me. I didn't coax him with food. I embraced a unique encounter. Sure I did not need to have him on my finger tips like that but obviously the boundaries between us were missing. It was like seeing an old friend. I let go of my frustrations at this bird species for a while. Maybe my story will alter your view of this type of bird as well.