The Starling - A Scottish Story

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Pit your thumb on't, however, in the meantime--keep it, as the minister says, in retentis, which I suppose means, till needed. Menzies inwardly repeated, "A poacher! At the same time, I see" But I will not record the harmonies, real or imaginary, which Mr. Menzies so clearly perceived between the early and latter habits of the Sergeant. View 1 comment.

There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Norman MacLeod. Norman MacLeod. Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the goodreads data base. Reverend Norman MacLeod the younger was a Scottish clergyman and author.

He was one of the founders of the Evangelical Alliance in In he became editor of the Edinburgh Christian Instructor. MacLeod won many adherents by his practical schemes for social reform.

Starling song audio

He instituted temperance refreshment rooms Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the goodreads data base. He instituted temperance refreshment rooms, a Congregational penny savings bank, and held services specially for the poor. He was soon known as one of the most eloquent preachers in Scotland, and in was appointed chaplain to Queen Victoria, with whom he became a great favourite. In the University of Glasgow conferred on him the degree of D. Good Words , a monthly magazine mainly, although not exclusively, devoted to religious topics, was established in London in , with MacLeod as editor, and quickly achieved success.

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We could be described as a magpies paradise, as we also have many other Scottish silver jewellery designers from Shetland to Glasgow and in between for you to enjoy. The bout starts with a series of pure-tone whistles and these are followed by the main part of the song, a number of variable sequences that often incorporate snatches of song mimicked from other species of bird and various naturally occurring or man-made noises.

The Starling: A Scottish Story by Norman Macleod - Free Ebook

The structure and simplicity of the sound mimicked is of greater importance than the frequency with which it occurs. In some instances, a wild starling has been observed to mimic a sound it has heard only once. Each sound clip is repeated several times before the bird moves on to the next. After this variable section comes a number of types of repeated clicks followed by a final burst of high-frequency song, again formed of several types.

Starlings disappearing from Scotland and UK

Each bird has its own repertoire with more proficient birds having a range of up to 35 variable song types and as many as 14 types of clicks. Males sing constantly as the breeding period approaches and perform less often once pairs have bonded. In the presence of a female, a male sometimes flies to his nest and sings from the entrance, apparently attempting to entice the female in.

Older birds tend to have a wider repertoire than younger ones. Those males that engage in longer bouts of singing and that have wider repertoires attract mates earlier and have greater reproductive success than others. Females appear to prefer mates with more complex songs, perhaps because this indicates greater experience or longevity.

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Having a complex song is also useful in defending a territory and deterring less experienced males from encroaching. Singing also occurs outside the breeding season, taking place throughout the year apart from the moulting period. The songsters are more commonly male although females also sing on occasion. The function of such out-of-season song is poorly understood. When a flock of common starlings is flying together, the synchronised movements of the birds' wings make a distinctive whooshing sound that can be heard hundreds of metres yards away.

The common starling is a highly gregarious species, especially in autumn and winter. Although flock size is highly variable, huge, noisy flocks - murmurations - may form near roosts. These dense concentrations of birds are thought to be a defence against attacks by birds of prey such as peregrine falcons or Eurasian sparrowhawks. Each common starling changes its course and speed as a result of the movement of its closest neighbours.

Very large roosts, exceptionally up to 1. In smaller amounts, the droppings act as a fertiliser , and therefore woodland managers may try to move roosts from one area of a wood to another to benefit from the soil enhancement and avoid large toxic deposits.

They gather in March until northern Scandinavian birds leave for their breeding ranges by mid-April. Their swarm behaviour creates complex shapes silhouetted against the sky, a phenomenon known locally as sort sol "black sun". These flocks are commonly called murmurations.

The common starling is largely insectivorous and feeds on both pest and other arthropods. The food range includes spiders , crane flies , moths , mayflies , dragonflies , damsel flies , grasshoppers , earwigs , lacewings , caddisflies , flies , beetles , sawflies , bees , wasps and ants. Prey are consumed in both adult and larvae stages of development, and common starlings will also feed on earthworms , snails , small amphibians and lizards. Measures are being introduced to reduce common starling populations by culling before the terns return to their breeding colonies in spring.

Starlings: Mapping and modelling the ballet of the skies

There are several methods by which common starlings obtain their food but for the most part, they forage close to the ground, taking insects from the surface or just underneath. Generally, common starlings prefer foraging amongst short-cropped grasses and are often found among grazing animals or perched on their backs, [39] where they will also feed on the mammal's external parasites. Flocks often feed in one place for some time, and return to previous successfully foraged sites.

There are three types of foraging behaviour observed in the common starling. This behaviour, first described by Konrad Lorenz and given the German term zirkeln , [41] is also used to create and widen holes in plastic garbage bags. It takes time for young common starlings to perfect this technique, and because of this the diet of young birds will often contain fewer insects. Earthworms are caught by pulling from soil. Unpaired males find a suitable cavity and begin to build nests in order to attract single females, often decorating the nest with ornaments such as flowers and fresh green material, which the female later disassembles upon accepting him as a mate.

The scent of plants such as yarrow acts as an olfactory attractant to females. The males sing throughout much of the construction and even more so when a female approaches his nest. Following copulation , the male and female continue to build the nest. Nests may be in any type of hole, common locations include inside hollowed trees, buildings, tree stumps and man-made nest-boxes. Construction usually takes four or five days and may continue through incubation. Common starlings are both monogamous and polygamous ; although broods are generally brought up by one male and one female, occasionally the pair may have an extra helper.

Pairs may be part of a colony, in which case several other nests may occupy the same or nearby trees. The reproductive success of the bird is poorer in the second nest than it is in the primary nest and is better when the male remains monogamous. Breeding takes place during the spring and summer. Following copulation, the female lays eggs on a daily basis over a period of several days. If an egg is lost during this time, she will lay another to replace it. There are normally four or five eggs that are ovoid in shape and pale blue or occasionally white, and they commonly have a glossy appearance.

Both parents share the responsibility of brooding the eggs, but the female spends more time incubating them than does the male, and is the only parent to do so at night when the male returns to the communal roost. The young are born blind and naked. They develop light fluffy down within seven days of hatching and can see within nine days.

Prior to that, the fouling would wet both the chicks' plumage and the nest material, thereby reducing their effectiveness as insulation and increasing the risk of chilling the hatchlings. Fledglings continue to be fed by their parents for another one or two weeks. They acquire their adult plumage the following year. Intraspecific brood parasites are common in common starling nests. Female "floaters" unpaired females during the breeding season present in colonies often lay eggs in another pair's nest.

A majority of starling predators are avian. The typical response of starling groups is to take flight, with a common sight being undulating flocks of starling flying high in quick and agile patterns. Their abilities in flight are seldom matched by birds of prey. More than twenty species of hawk , owl and falcon are known to occasionally predate feral starlings in North America, though the most regular predators of adults are likely to be urban-living peregrine falcons or merlins Falco columbarius.

Common starlings are hosts to a wide range of parasites. Blood-sucking species leave their host when it dies, but other external parasites stay on the corpse. A bird with a deformed bill was heavily infested with Mallophaga lice, presumably due to its inability to remove vermin. The hen flea Ceratophyllus gallinae is the most common flea in their nests. This flea does not occur in the US, even on house sparrows. Other arthropod parasites include Ixodes ticks and mites such as Analgopsis passerinus , Boydaia stumi , Dermanyssus gallinae , Ornithonyssus bursa , O. The presence of this control on numbers of the parasitic species may explain why birds are prepared to reuse old nests.


Flying insects that parasitise common starlings include the louse-fly Omithomya nigricornis [74] and the saprophagous fly Camus hemapterus. The latter species breaks off the feathers of its host and lives on the fats produced by growing plumage.

The Starling - A Scottish Story The Starling - A Scottish Story
The Starling - A Scottish Story The Starling - A Scottish Story
The Starling - A Scottish Story The Starling - A Scottish Story
The Starling - A Scottish Story The Starling - A Scottish Story
The Starling - A Scottish Story The Starling - A Scottish Story

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