A flock of European Starlings lives in our neighbourhood. The flock regularly visits the lawns in the area. We hear their chattering through open windows from spring to fall. I quite like the sociable birds.
At the end of our street, which is a dead end, water always collects after the rain and is often slow to disappear.
At different times, we have seen the neighbourhood birds, such as crows, robins, or sparrows, having a splash or a drink in that water. While we have seen a few starlings there on occasion, nothing matches what we saw last week.
It was a glorious late summer day, temperatures in the low 20s Celsius, with a breeze which was welcome. Late afternoon, as my husband was closing the blinds, he spotted them, dozens of starlings enjoying the water.
I took photos through the window but they weren’t capturing the spectacle.
From an outside balcony, I had a perfect view and captured the scene on video. Birds landed, flapped their wings to splash themselves and took off again.
Others landed and did the same. There were times they all disappeared into the trees and within minutes, the fun began again.
You can see an six second video here.
When we looked at the photos, we were surprised to see a Blue Jay in the bath too. It wasn’t in the same bathing frenzy as the starlings however and the starlings ignored its presence. This bird was curious!
After five minutes, neighbourhood crows began to gather on the wires and rooftops watching the spectacle.
The presence of the crows drove away the starlings.
One lone starling went to the bath again but a crow landed nearby and the starling quickly exited. The smaller birds gathered in groups in nearby trees,
on wires and on lawns as the crows staked their claim to the bath.
Eventually, the starlings flew off.
The crows had exerted their ownership of the neighbourhood bird bath and the large flock of starlings acquiesced. In the avian world, we know which birds are at the top of the “pecking order”in our area. Crows raid robins’ nests in the area and they may do the same with the starlings. They are predators of smaller birds, not just territorial.
It was interesting to see the starlings at the neighbourhood bird bath. However, the dynamics of the flock, the relationship between the jay and starlings and the crows in relation to the starlings, make this simple experience a fascinating one. Nature has wonderful dynamics if we but take time to watch.
I posted this photo earlier this week of geese flying into the harbour. Since young geese stay around their parents for the first year, chances are there are young geese in these formations.
The v formation flying of geese is an important skill for the young birds since the flock will be travelling south in the next few months, covering large distances every day. The lead bird in the formation sets the pace. Each subsequent bird flies slightly above the bird before it, taking advantage of the lift of air from the wings of the bird ahead, thus decreasing wind resistance. When the lead bird tires, another replaces it. Birds communicate via honking as they go.
This photo is a snapshot in time. To help reduce wind resistance, the v formation would be in the direction of flight, in this case, from the bird on the top right. The birds could adjust positions to create the v in that direction. The snapshot captured a poor v formation.