January / February 2023 • TulsaPets 31 Soon, murmurations (isn’t that a wonderful word?) made up of thousands of starlings could be seen in the United States. This phenomenon is mesmeriz- ing because the birds swoop and turn in ever-changing loops to create a living cloud in the sky. Because there are more than 200 million starlings flapping across the USA, murmurations have become com- mon. (Thanks, Eugene?) Starlings Can Be Companions There is also good reason to suspect that starlings were brought here as companions, which leads one to wonder who would want one. It appears that many people do, if you would like a bird buddy who can talk with your investment of patience and love. Starlings are related to mynahs; both are from the family Sturnidae and are talented mimics. They can convincingly sound like car alarms, telephones, human voices, and other birds. If a starling is kept as a pet, it’s quite possible that it could be taught to say, “I saw that,” then released to victimize those enjoying the great outdoors. (Frank- ly, I love the idea of a voice from an invisi- ble entity commenting such above anyone who happens to stroll beneath it, but that would be me.) As pets, not pests, starlings like toys and playing fetch, and their bright little minds have even devised tools to fetch food just like their corvid friends. They are quite responsive and will communicate when they favor something, be it people, music, or food. If this sounds engaging, you can look forward to having this feathered family member for as long as 15 years, which also means you’ll be responsible for socialization and stimulating exercises so your bird doesn’t get grumpy. If a grumpy starling sounds trivial, take a look at those beaks. Starlings are wired for open-bill probing, which fits with any animals termed vulgaris in imagining. This talent means the bird has the ability to insert the bill into a crevice and forcefully open it there, which creates a larger open- ing — and exposes whatever prey the bird seeks. Starlings are quite stubborn when they are focused on something, so chances of success stay high. Starlings Can Be Yours So let’s say you’re sold. You want a starling as a pet, but you wonder about the legali- ties of simply taking a wild nestling to be your own. Good news! You’re covered! Starlings, English sparrows, and pigeons are nonnative, so you are not bound by federal laws in keeping them, but (as with all animals), any cruelty laws will always apply. Many wildlife rehabilitators began their journeys by experiencing starlings. They are usually hardy, easy to house, and wildly enthusiastic about mealtime. Your next step is taking one (or more) into your care. No problem! Just wait until springtime, and call Wing It at (918) 508- 9607. This group of saints will guide you, and when you’re ready, will provide you with a clutch of baby starlings, complete with directions for feeding and housing. In no time, your family will have a gang of gaping maws to fill. Baby starlings have enormous bright yellow beaks that almost glow in the dark when they gape — making easy target practice when feeding. Although they are initially homely, these kids emerge as kinda cute juveniles, quickly learning to perch and self-feed. From there, you’ll see vigorous flapping, short flights, and finally, full-on soaring — right back to you when you’re in the yard because you are their fa- vorite food source and forever best friend. Just imagine … your voice, calling in the backyard, and a dark shape alights on your shoulder once it hears…. “Oh, my starling, oh, my starling, oh, my staaaaaaarling Clementine!” As you too become a bird nerd….