Nature on our doorsteps: Little Stars

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Starlings are regularly seen birds in Ireland. 

They are often spotted in small flocks, descending onto lawns and grassy verges to probe the soil for insect larvae with their pointed beaks.

A Starlings feathers are particularly star like in early spring compressor

A Starling’s feathers are particularly ‘star-like’ in early spring

Starlings can look quite plain from a distance but close-up, it is easy to see how they got their name Starling, or ‘little star’. 

Their feathers are covered with creamy spots and speckles which are particularly shiny and iridescent in winter and spring.

In spring, they build their nests in holes in trees, under the eaves, or under loose roof tiles. 

They lay 4 or 5 eggs and feed their hungry chicks on insects and insect larvae. 

The parents work hard to keep the chicks fed and to keep the nest clean.  

The chicks grey white poop is removed from the nest in a special sac compressor

The chick’s grey-white poop is removed from the nest in a special sac

A clean nest helps to keep diseases or parasites at bay, while also preventing smells that could draw predators to the chicks. 

Like all living things, chicks produce faeces (bird poop) and this needs to be removed from the nest. 

Luckily, chicks excrete this in a special membrane bag called a faecal sac, making it easy for the parent to pick it up in their beaks and fly away with it. 

They then drop this to the ground away from the nest, where it dissolves in the rain. 

A very neat organic solution indeed.

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