It all started several days ago when Tisen and I were on a typical walk. Noisy European Starling toddlers tormented their parents, which has become a common scene of late.
On this particular day, Tisen charged a starling family grazing on a slope. They flew away together in a little flock, just as one expects. The adults were clearly starlings. The juveniles were all the same shape and size. But there was a flash of unexpected white.
I did a double and then a triple take trying to make sense of what I was seeing–it was a white tail. I have seen thousands of starlings and I have never seen one with a white tail. I have read descriptions of starlings dozens of times and never has anyone mentioned a starling with a white tail.
But, there it was. A bird who acts like a starling, looks like a starling, hangs out with starlings ought to be a starling. It was the right size and shape, but what’s with the white tail?
I could not think of a single possible bird it could have been. I began to think I had either imagined it or the bird had somehow dipped its tail in a bucket of white paint.
Then, two days later, I saw it again. This time, it flew across the path just about 10 feet ahead of me. I watched it whiz by, still harassing its parents, and felt certain it had to be a starling with a white tail.
I asked a knowledgable friend of mine. She asked an ornithologist and informed me that, yes indeed, starlings do, on rare occasions, have white tails. Unfortunately, we were having cell phone challenges and I didn’t catch the explanation. Amazingly, I’ve not had any luck finding an explanation online.
Today, for the third time, I saw the white-tailed juvenile hanging out with its parents in the park. This time, I got a long look at it as Tisen was too groggy to give chase. I even managed to get out my iPhone, unlock it, and bring up the camera app before it flew away. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually get to take a picture first!
This evening, I am on the hunt. It’s like a quest for Big Foot, I think. The elusive white-tailed starling lurks in the park across the street and I aim to catch it in pixels. . .
No luck tonight. I found normal starlings galore. And I saw song sparrows, mocking birds, brow-headed cowbirds, cliff swallows, carolina wrens, and even a downy woodpecker. But, no white-tailed starling.
I did, however, seen another interesting thing. A hawk was circling overhead. When I looked at the photos enlarged, I realized it was probably a red-tailed hawk, but it has a fish in its claws. I never saw that before, either.
Maybe a red-tailed hawk with a fish is like finding Nessy? Big Foot, however, will have to wait for another day.
is Tison feeling any better?
He’s stopped itching, which is definitely making him happier. But the steroids and antibiotics are messing with him a bit. So yes, but with side effects. 🙂
Love the hawk image.
At least there is an explanation for the white tail and people believed you. Good luck on your quest. As for the hawk-better a fish than a rodent in my opinion. Tisen looks to be a happy camper in the photo. Sure hope is doing better.
That’s a good point! I’ve carried my camera to the park 3x now with no luck. I think that bird is hiding out and laughing at me. Tisen is definitely feeling happier–maybe a little too happy! :-0 I hope you’re doing OK–saw your blog post and am thinking about you (I can’t comment on your blog from my phone for some reason).
I can see the bird hiding and laughing. So glad Tisen is better! I’m doing ok-thanks-a little apprehensive about things. Thanks for the thoughts. You are too kind. Please take care.
I’m sure that’s what he’s doing! Tisen appreciates your thoughts. You take care, too!
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