Wildlife to see in October - Starlings
The murmuration of Starlings is one of the most spectacular displays in the natural world. It is an amazing avian phenomenon, where these star-studded birds swoop and dive together in a wonderful coordinated wave, dancing in the air as one giant superorganism, creating the most dramatic, dynamic shapes and sounds as the wings beat together. We are so lucky that these wondrous wildlife displays occur right here, above our heads, in our big Suffolk skies.
Starlings are very social birds and spend most of the year as a flock, but it is in the autumn that they start to roost in high numbers at special sites and they start to perform their mumurations at dusk, just before they settle in for the night. One of our local Suffolk Wildlife Trust sites, Lackford Lakes, has a brilliant viewing platform to see the Starlings roost in their reedbeds just behind their viewing centre (Lackford Lakes is a fantastic place to visit for many different wildlife reasons, it’s not just for Starlings!). Starlings not only roost in natural habitats, but they also roost in old buildings and bridges too with up to 100,000 individuals in some spots.
Starlings are slightly smaller than a blackbird, with triangular, pointed wings and a blunt short tail. They have iridescent black based speckled plumage; when the sun shines, you can see purples and greens interspersed with white star-like flecks, which gives rise to their name. They mainly eat insects that they often find in pasture type land and you can often see them pecking away on our lawns for grubs. They can also eat grains and fruits, hence they can be found on our birdfeeders and tables. Starlings are quite noisy: they have many different calls and songs, both tuneful and mechanical; they also practice mimicry so their song often consists of other bird’s songs and calls too.
Like many species Starlings are in serious decline in the UK: their population size has dropped by more than 80% since the 1970s, due to changes in land use and habitat loss. They are on the RSPB Red list and so they need our help: they need somewhere to nest in the spring, so they can bring up their young, they need somewhere to forage throughout the year and they need places to roost in the autumn and winter.
Things you can practically do to help Starlings:
1. Create a Cosy Starling Home – see RSPB website for details
2. Only trim hedges back once the autumnal fruits have been eaten
3. Have a short area of grass for the birds to forage
4. Leave Starling roosts alone
Risby Wildlife Working Group (WWG) News
Come and meet us: we are having a stall at the Macmillan Coffee Morning on 9th October at Risby Village Hall.
Wild Area maintenance – over the autumnal months the group will be cutting down the wild areas and raking up the arisings. If you would like to help, please contact us:
Facebook: Risby – A Wildlife Friendly Village