No one needs incentive to venture out in the fine sunny weather we’ve been having here in PA.

So, while out, why not spot some local birds, or even tally some for the Great Backyard Bird Count (running through Monday)? 

Here are the birds we’ve been seeing this winter on a small stretch of Little Crum Creek:

    • blue jay
    • common grackle
    • American crow
    • dark-eyed junco
    • white-throated sparrow
    • house finch
    • hairy woodpecker
    • downy woodpecker
    • red-bellied woodpecker
    • tufted titmouse
    • chickadee
    • wren
    • nuthatch
    • cardinal
    • mourning dove
    • brown-headed cowbird
    • robin
    • house sparrow
    • starling
    • goldfinch
    • turkey vulture
    • red-tailed hawk
    • sharp-shinned hawk
    • Cooper’s hawk

Some are easier to count than others.  Some are easier to photo 

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From top: robin, house sparrow, goldfinch, downy woodpecker, starling.

Among the birds rounding out late winter’s crowd of Grackles on Little Crum Creek, European Starlings were the fewest. 

But their inconspicuousness was striking.

Starlings are often called a nuisance.  Blanketing habitat, outcompeting other birds, and nesting in the nooks & crannies of buildings, they can make quite a mess.

Autumn’s sudden murmurations of flying starling flocks make another impression.  The fluid black cloud shapes undulating in the sky can be mesmerizing.

In Refuge, Terry Tempest Williams describes her experience of them:

The symmetry of starling flocks takes my breath away; I lose track of time and space….They rise.  Hundreds of starlings.  They wheel and turn, twist and glide, with no apparent leader.  They are the collective.  A flight of frenzy.  They are black stars against a blue sky…expanding and contracting along the meridian of a winged universe. (57)

But here in February, a single starling like the one pictured can nearly escape notice.

Humbly shaking freezing rain from its feathers, it waits in the periphery to pick at a feeder full of Grackles, Cowbirds, & Red-winged Blackbirds. 

One among a flock of others, this European Starling seems to be simply biding its time.