It’s that baby Starlings time of year again. Every year, a ravenous horde of young Starlings descend on the bird table, screeching for their parents to feed them. Eventually the parents get bored of the whole thing and let them get on with learning for themselves, but for a couple of days they empty the sunflower seed feeder on an hourly basis to satisfy their needy chicks – and for those two days we are woken up very early by their neediness! But we don’t mind – it’s always great to watch.
This year there seem to be too broods, one very young and brown all over…
…and one slightly older, already with the irridescent plumage.
Some of these are already trying to get onto the seed hopper, but the parents of the younger ones soon chase them off so they can feed their own demanding chicks.
Usually the hopper is filled with sunflower hearts, the Goldfinches’ favourite, but this year it also has insect-filled suet sticks and mealworms. These are what the Starlings are after, and they quickly cover the ground with the sunflower hearts. The chickens are quite happy about this though, and unusually they are letting the younger starlings root around in the grass too – ordinarily they’ll chase off any ground-feeding birds.
It’s costing us a fortune in bird food – they’ll get through several hoppers of seed mix a day – but it’s worth it to watch this short-lived annual spectacle, even if the other garden birds don’t get much of a look-in. But that’s OK – they just wait until the starlings have a little break.