Theatre of the Skies

December 04, 2012
Birds on a Wire
Skate the Sky

''Starlings,'' I recall one ornithologist writing, ''do nothing in moderation.'' These acrobats of flight skate through the late autumn sky, dipping and rising in one frolicking mass, opening, fragmenting and closing. Ubiquitous and noisy, the flocks sway and swirl over Dentabella over and over. The chorus above stayed around the fields for a week, lining the telephone wire and shrouding leafless birch trees.

The year was 1890 when an eccentric drug manufacturer named Eugene Schieffelin entered New York City's Central Park and released some 60 European starlings he had imported from England. In 1891 he loosed 40 more. He hoped to introduce into North America every bird mentioned by Shakespeare. Skylarks and song thrushes failed to thrive. Not so the starlings! A long history to eradicate the birds ensued.

From my living room perch, this irrepressible, iridescent unit seems afraid of nothing.

 


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