Saturday, August 30, 2008

A pre-introduction to Starlinka

Emma and Ellie have requested an introduction to Starlinka but I don't have any good pictures of her yet (hopefully tomorrow or soon). But in the meantime, Starlinka did pose for the poster I did for last year's Kansas City Irish Fest. And by the way-this year's Irish Fest is going on right now (right this minute!!) so if you're in the KC area, think about going, if just to watch The Elders perform because they are fabulous! Just watch out for little girls that can't contain themselves anymore and then burst out in front of you with their step dancing enthusiasm. You could get hurt. :-)

Last year there was a contest to name the Irish Fest cow and Teresa Sudduyn of Oak Grove, MO was the winner with "Sinead O'Moolihan and the Tra La Las." I think that is a great name for an Irish musical/dancing group. Here is a close-up of the Tra La Las that were modeled after Starlinka...

Starlinka is a starling, probably the most common bird on the planet. If you go outside and look for a bird, it won't take you very long to find a starling. They're little black birds with white spots (or stars) that have short stubby tails and bright yellow beaks in spring. They're not native to the United States. They were introduced to America around 1890 by Eugene Schieffelin, a Shakespeare enthusiast who wanted to bring all the birds mentioned by Shakespeare to New York. Starlings in the U.S. now number 200 million because they're so darn smart and have no problem adapting because they're such flexible thinkers. Unfortunately, they're looked down upon because they take over nesting areas of native birds. They also poop quite a bit. In Independence, Mo they had such a problem with starlings pooping they had to remove all the trees in the square so the birds would stop ruining the paint on cars.

Most people don't know that starlings are excellent mimickers. I spent some time listening to a starling in my backyard one day to see exactly what his repertoire was. He made the sound of crows close up and crows far away, a car alarm, what sounded like a nail gun (there were a lot of roofs being replaced in the neighborhood that year), an ambulance and a lot of other birds which were not starlings. Starlinka has a pretty big vocabulary and has even taught Eddie how to say "Hi baby." I tried for years but Starlinka was the one who finally got Eddie to say it.

Mozart had a pet starling. It is rumored that when his starling changed a note while mimicking one of Mozart's compositions, Mozart liked the change so much he made it permanent. When his starling died, he had a formal funeral for it because he loved his starling very much. Konrad Lorenz, a Nobel prize winner, had a pet starling Friedrich who went on rounds with him when he was a doctor in a Russian prison camp during World War II. When Lorenz was eventually allowed to leave the camp, he was given permission to take Friedrich with him (he also loved his bird very much). When your starling has such devotion to you, you will very likely have that much devotion to it.

Starlinka likes to sit on my shoulder while I type on the computer but if it gets too late and she doesn't like the brightness of the screen, she will hop to my knee under the table and try to sleep there. Starlings like to get as close as they can to you but you are never allowed to touch them. Those are the starling rules. :-) Remember the M C Hammer song "U Can't Touch This"? That could be the starling anthem.

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