Birds with human features
The starling is a bird that feels at home in the city in late autumn. Like humans, the starling is a group animal. He also has decidedly human traits: his demeanor is often described as cheerful and chatty. So a nice bird.
The starling is an omnivore, and because convenience serves the starling, it seeks the company of humans. Because where there are people, there is food and the starling likes it all. In the countryside with orchards still full of fallen fruit and fields with leftover wheat, the starling is abundant.
But it is also a good place for the starling in the city: the people there leave enough food in the open air for starlings to get their money’s worth. In addition to urban landscaping, city dwellers also produce a great deal of – edible – waste. Together with the gull, the starling scours the garbage dumps en masse in search of edible items and thus benefits from human activities. The starling is therefore very prosperous and it is probably the most numerous bird in the world: it is estimated that more than a hundred million starlings fly around the world.
The group feeling of the starling is complicated. In the breeding season in spring it is lacking and the birds have enough on their own. They migrate into the province and nest in the countryside. Densely wooded areas and very open terrain are avoided, they build their untidy nests in trees and on buildings. Towards autumn, the group feeling rears its head and they seek each other out. They gather at a comfortable distance from their permanent home in the city and leave for humans in large groups.
When the first winter cold sets in, usually in the first week of December, most of the starlings leave. Heading south. Not all of them go, some hibernate in the urban environment. Sometimes the urban starlings are still visited by relatives from the far North, because when thick layers of snow have made food inaccessible there, these starlings sink to the south. We see these temporary guests scurrying around with their Dutch relatives.
Huge swarms stand out against the clear autumn sky. Food is also eaten at such a collecting site. A hundred thousand starlings dive into the meadows and eat everything that can be digested by a starling stomach.
Satisfied, they then all head for the city. To an environment with tall trees where they find a place to sleep under a lot of chatter.
Starling visits do not go unnoticed; at night the food is digested and in the morning before they return to the countryside in groups, they defecate extensively.