100 Seconds 12/19/20

Starlings are often dismissed as an annoying, muddy brown bird, barely a notch above vermin. In the right light or with binoculars, I can discern their true, radiant colors — golds, purples, sea-greens, with touches of iridescent blue. In winter, these canny birds are thrilling to watch in synchronized flight above the stubbled farm fields. Sometimes thousands of starlings do this sky ballet, which is called a murmuration. One reason for this behavior: a raptor has lunged in their midst, looking to pick off one of them for a meal. At night, starlings drop onto the tops of trees, as if their wings have suddenly deflated. Fussy, quarrelsome until they finally settle down after the last light fades.

This wonderful painting is by a UK artist, Jan Tomlinson.

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