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The Common Starling Is An Uncommonly Beautiful Bird With Hearts In Its Feathers

Amy Pilkington 20 Jun 2020

Okay, yes, starlings are pests in the eyes of many North Americans. We see them as these masses of black birds that eat crops and cattle feed, harass domestic pets, and are generally a noisy nuisance.

But have you ever looked at a common starling, also called a European starling, up close in the light?

They're beautiful.

Instagram | @mc_wildlife

Though they are "black" birds, their feathers are iridescent, turning into metallic blues, greens, and purples in the sunlight.

Mixed with the white tips of their feathers, the birds almost seem to be sparkling.

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And as an adorable extra detail, those white tips look an awful lot like little hearts.

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How can you hate a bird that literally wears its heart(s) on its metaphorical sleeve?

Of course, we can appreciate a bird while also acknowledging that it is an invasive species.

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The European starling was introduced to North America by well-meaning, but misguided British settlers.

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A hundred birds were released into Central Park reportedly as part of a quest to fill the "new world" with all of the birds ever mentioned in the plays of Shakespeare.

While most of the species they attempted to bring over didn't survive, the starling thrived — to put it mildly.

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Sadly, the little hearts on their feathers wear away over the course of spring.

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The spots return in the fall after the birds finish molting.

If you do have a serious pest issue with starlings, you should make sure to deal with them based on your local regulations, but otherwise, let's just enjoy their prettiness.

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