The impressionist

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Starling in my back garden is brilliant (he is pictured in all his unfocussed loveliness below).  Specifically the male, and specifically his song.

Many will know, and some will not, that Starlings are excellent mimics.  They are also excellent looking birds (if you take the time to have a good gawp) and they are intelligent.  All round good birds.

The male in my back garden has a growing repertoire of impressions.  In the last few weeks he has starting singing again, rehearsing for the summer.  When he starts to sing, you get the normal whistles and cracks, as if he is tuning in his own internal wireless, and then he is off.  And always in the same order.  It may be fair to assume that he puts the impressions into the song in the order that he learnt them, or it may not.  Either way he always starts with the alarm call of a Blackbird.  Not the full blown flying away because there is a cat on my head call, the nervy little 'chok' that they do when they are not quite sure what is going on.  And the Starling does it perfectly, and three or four times for good measure.

More whistles, cracks, and the odd peeeeeeooooooooo follow before he brings in a Pied Wagtail in flight.  Perfectly.  Catches me off guard quite regularly does that one.  He then brings in a bit of Magpie, a bit of Jay, a little Song Thrush, a hint of Goldfinch and some other bits of work in progress.  I'm assuming that as the year progresses and he sings for longer, there will be bit more finesse in the new impressions and more of the existing too.

I was in a local park on Saturday, and as I entered, I was thinking that what I could here was the wierdest Greenfinch song I ever did hear.  When I got my eye in to the top of the tree, it was another Starling, rehearsing for the summer.

A Starling doing Rory Bremner.


Anonymous said...

I used to have one that did an impression of my phone. I can't tell you how many times it got me in from the garden before I realized it was him.

Razboynik said...

A Dunnock has recently started to sing in my garden. I must admit he's got a great voice. Very pleasant to listen to.

Ernest said...

One in my street used to do a fantastic imitation of a Common Sandpiper.... a canal passage bird in the late Spring. That got me going a few times.Twitchers might remember a Serin in the police station garden in Wells which to my ears sang exactly like a wren. But rarer.Best wishes from Ray

Anonymous said...

Starlings are great! The radio analogy is spot-on. Ours do Curlew and Oystercatcher - just a little bit "recorded" sounding.
Best mimicry I have ever heard was a Greenfinch doing Nuthatch. Just when I thought I had a handle on things.

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