22 May 2008

Little darlings

What the hell is all that noise?

Now, don't get me wrong... I love the birds. In many cases, more than humans. Birds have it made. They've discovered a life of true bliss: If you're a bird, you can hang out all day, poop where you stand, and if things get dull, you can, like, fly around and stuff. And if you happen to be a raptor, you can fly around like a ROCKSTAR and terrorize the little guys once in a while. "Doing donuts" in the neighbor's airspace like a ruffian biker. Zoom down to the ground, pluck a mouse out of the grass, and give the little bastard a lesson in Natural Selection.

It is absolutely THE LIFE.

But for the past few days, there has been a riot of activity in the two trees above our back yard, particularly in the mornings. Gomez is noticing it as well, and it's hilarious: He will run out, do his "biological imperatives" and then sit quietly, staring up at the colossal oak tree and furrow his brow thoughtfully.

What the hell is all that noise?

It sounds like an orchestra of shortwave radios all scanning different frequencies; a bubbling, tweaking, rage of static as if each leaf in those trees is receiving police-band signals from the third moon of Jupiter.....

Those are all birds? Must be thirty million of 'em.

So I finally sat with the dog, studying the trees. And we discovered that it's not just "birds", it's the starlings. And it's not just starlings, but the starlings' children.

They've all got identical little ones; almost full-size, ash-gray, and screaming their hunger into the void, while pop (or is it mom in the starling family?) runs around frantically, looking for food. Or a toy, or a comic book, or that Elmo DVD...something to keep Junior quiet.

So as a public service, I felt I should pass on this great discovery. It would seem that every starling in the world had a kid on the same day, and they're all freaking out simultaneously. Gomez remains fascinated. Someday, those gray downy screamers will all leave home for college and the starling parents will wonder if they've done the right thing... and is it too soon to rent out Junior's room?

Talk about "empty nester" syndrome.


Steve said...

So THAT's what's making all that noise!

(Yeah, we have 'em too...)

Reya Mellicker said...

They are loud, and not especially musical, are they?

IntangibleArts said...

I heard somewhere that they're an imported kind of European Starling, and that they've basically invaded many american cities like a plague of rats... Granted, I'd prefer starlings to (feral) rats, as plagues go, but eh...

It could've been cane toads, so perhaps we're getting off lucky?

Marissa said...


You are correct! In a magazine writing class in grad school, one of my classmates wrote an article all about the Starling and how there's this controversy in MA regarding whether one can freely shoot them or not. Um, yeah. But small game hunting aside, I remember that Starlings were indeed introduced from Europe by some guy who wanted to release every bird ever mentioned by Shakespeare in Central Park. A nice gesture, I suppose, but not very well planned.