Starling Murmuration

Tuesday, January 3rd 2017

Winter is a busy period for the bird ringers and during the Christmas break the Foxglove Ringing Team have been making the most of local opportunities to catch different species of birds (with varying success). Some of the team were out on Monday evening at a nearby Starling roost and worked hard during the afternoon to set up 3 nets in a reed bed. The site was known to be used by around 4,000 Starlings as an overnight roost and the murmuration was discovered last week. Roger kindly carried out the required 'depth test' to see just how deep the water in the reed bed was! Having decided that it was not too deep the team set to and prepared 3 net rides. They then put out the nets and watched as thousands of birds appeared to fall out of the sky over a period of around 15 minutes.

Ringing starlings

The catch, although purposely restricted, was a success,and resulted in 75 Starlings and 2 Wrens being caught in the specially designed mist nets. The birds were taken back to the nearest ringer's garage and were carefully fitted with a BTO ring. Biometrics taken included age, sex, wing length and weight. This information will be valuable to the BTO as these are now relatively scarce birds. The large flocks are deceptive as Starlings are a species in serious decline and now on the red list for conservation.

Starlings

Up close they are stunning birds with purple and green metallic plumage. This one is a female and has an indicative pale ring around the iris of its eye.

Female Starling

After several hours of extracting and processing the birds the ringers enjoyed a hot mince pie!  It was like a senior citizens' away day!

Mince pies

The birds were roosted overnight in a shed and released this morning at dawn. They all flew away to feed in the local fields and gardens and several have been sighted feeding on fat balls in the area where they were released (close to the reed bed).


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