Finding Big Foot

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.


10 responses to “Finding Big Foot

    • 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. 🙂

  1. 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.

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