03 April 2013
British Bird of the Month: Starling
Cheryl Tipp, Natural Sounds Curator writes:
Two things come to mind when thinking about the Common Starling, Sturnus vulgaris - mumuration and mimicry. Starling murmurations occur when thousands of individuals flock together forming great swirling patterns in the sky, either when leaving their roost at dawn or returning to rest at dusk. From Brighton Pier to the Somerset Levels, these magnificent spectacles continue to wow audiences across the country.
Starlings are also known for their remarkable ability to imitate different sounds. The following example, recorded by Vic Lewis in Herefordshire, England during the spring of 1968, includes mimicry of House Sparrows, a Jackdaw and even a barking dog.
Many other birds also make use of their ability to mimic sounds, sometimes with very unexpected results. The British Library CD 'Bird Mimicry' features a remarkable collection of recordings such as a Jay neighing like a horse, a Blackbird imitating the sound of a computer modem, Bullfinches singing German folk tunes and a Fawn-breasted Bowerbird spontaneously mimicking the various sounds of a building site.
(Image courtesy of Electrographica)