The Star of Allerton

… and we’re back! I was able to get a bunch of to-do items checked off my list tonight and in celebration thought I’d crank out another post. Of course that will be short lived since this is core day and that self-imposed torture has a way of sucking all the joy out of you. Let’s stay in the moment and add another new bird to the North American Birding Life List. This particular bird is a surprise to me – based on how common these are … as in I see them EVERYWHERE I GO .. you would think they would already be checked off my list. Nope, much like that damn Crow this one has eluded my tin before now.

European Starling shot at Allerton Park in Monticello IL.

When it comes to colorful birds, the European Starling can hold its own – well, at least in the sunlight which is exactly the conditions I was able to shoot these specimens.  Ron and I were once again out birding – this time walking around the grounds of Allerton Park in Monticello IL.  If you are an Illini alumni, you know all about Allerton (unless you were spending too much time North of Green).  For those not familiar with this place, liken it to a showplace for a rich individual that was slowly losing his mind.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a wonderful place, but to say there is a strange collection of art and statues would be like saying all clowns should simply be shot – grossly understated.  Apparently the birds also enjoy this particular park based on the numerous +1’s we were able to add to the list that day.   Now, most of those birds were a struggle to get in the tin while under the tree canopy, but these Starlings were practically posing for us.  A regular old Zoolander!

European Starling shot at Allerton Park in Monticello IL.

Let’s see what Cornell has to say about these shimmering birds.  Hmm, I had no idea they were brought here by Shakespeare enthusiasts in the nineteenth century, European Starlings are now among the continent’s most numerous songbirds.   Apparently these enthusiasts wanted American to experience all the birds mentioned by Shakespeare.  From the 100 they released in Central Park back in the 1890s we now have over 200 million of them from Alaska to Mexico.  Thank you Shakespeare lovers for giving us a total pest!  Did they not realize we LEFT Europe specifically to get AWAY from them!  (note, my history may be a tad off but I blame my crappy early schooling).  They are great vocal mimics able to copy up to 20 different species.    Another thing I didn’t know is that Starlings wear molt – new feathers come in the fall with bold white on the tips.  This wears out over the year giving more visibility to the iridescent brown we see the rest of the year.


European Starling shot at Allerton Park in Monticello IL.

Also looks like they fall into the aggressive category – funny, I can usually tell that by which birds literally attack my brother (seriously!).  Oh well, post time is up and I need to get to planking.  I realize these birds are as pesky as they get and it doesn’t help they travel in hordes.  Oh well, still get to check another species off the list.

Happy Birding!

4 thoughts on “The Star of Allerton”

  1. I had the same questionable early schooling in history as you, but I do not believe we left Europe specifically to get away from European Starlings. I could be wrong.

    That first picture is particularly gorgeous! Great coloring and everything! I took a nice picture of one of these birds in Australia last year, so they get around.

    I haven’t been attacked yet by a European Starling, but I probably will be. I’ve got to start wearing a hat when I go birding–this is getting crazy. Used to be just Red-Winged Blackbirds, but I’ve had Kestrels swoop around my head a couple times. I’ve also had Tree Swallows make weak attempts to harass me as well. But in the last two weeks I’ve been repeatedly attacked by vicious Northern Rough-Winged Swallows that caused me to fall over backwards with my camera, and a Black Tern left a wetland 100 yards away to fly at me and buzz my head. What’s up with that? Beyond that, my black and yellow Nikon camera strap is often mistaken for a big black-and-yellow bumblebee by other big black-and-yellow bumblebees that don’t appreciate the company.

    Thanks for the pretty pictures and the bird facts!



  2. Are you sure – I seem to remember a nasty tempered nun explicitly telling me that we declared our independence from Europe out of complete contempt for this pesky birds. I do have a pretty good memory but there is always a chance I was sick that day or got it messed up with a horror novel I happen to be reading at the time!

    Wait a minute… did a bird swoop you when you feel down the hill at Emiquon? That makes a whole lot me sense now – kinda feel bad for laughing at you now thinking the entire time you fell over a stick or something. Note, I did check and verify I had some really nice pictures of you celebrating successfully getting back on your feet. hehehe

    I need to check if my camera strap has yellow on it – never had problems with bumblebee attacks – well, at least not ones due to no fault of my own. I have been attacked by a swarm of them but that was due to pulling out their favorite flowering weeds out of our landscape. Now that would have been a good picture!

    As far as facts go… don’t get your hopes up on the next one – pretty weak on that particular pose


  3. No, falling down the hill at Emiquon was just me, no birds involved. My only excuse is that I was walking on downed tree branches because something was moving below me through the waist-high grass, and the branch broke. I think I handled the whole falling down the hill thing with grace and style.

    The swallows that viciously and repeatedly attacked me were at McKee Marsh in Warrenville. Thankfully, it was a flat gravel surface so the only thing hurt was my pride. Those birds, by the way, have moved from Least Concern status to Threatened, let me tell you.



  4. Apparently you have not seen my pictures hehehhe

    I hate to think what is going to happen the next time we are out and the hawks decide to pay you a visit. I might have to distance myself from you if that happens — so if I start slowly moving a way from you, you might consider running! (in the opposite direction of course)


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