Why Starlings Matter to Me
Why does any of this matter to me? Well, first, because I’ve always been fond of Starlings. When I was a girl, my neighbors rescued two orphaned Starling nestlings and raised them through adulthood. They were named “Star” and “Ling” and enjoyed an animal-loving home where they sat on shoulders while dinner was prepared, and learned songs the children taught them. The brilliance, beauty and sensitivity of those birds formed my opinions and helped me become the animal person I became.
Starlings are a significant reason why I volunteer with wildlife today. I’ve heard other stories of non-native species being the “gateway” animals to those who later pursue animal rescue or wildlife rehabilitation. It makes sense. Non-native species like Starlings, House Sparrows, and feral pigeons are accessible to most of us who live in city or suburban settings. The likelihood of one of these birds being the first rescue for a well-meaning person is high. These birds also allow for a human-to-wildlife bond that might otherwise be missing in crowded urban contexts.
A number of wildlife rehabilitation facilities, including ours, take only “native” species. Thus, I sometimes find myself trying to find secure placement for Starlings or pigeons or other “non-natives.” For better or worse, Hugh and I simply cannot make the native/non-native distinctions viscerally. That’s admittedly an emotional perspective, not a biologically informed one. So we try to work with the biological imperatives and do our best for all parties involved.
From our earliest years — long before we ever worked with wildlife — we rescued any injured or needy creature that crossed our paths. Those habits are not easily broken. In most cases, for the two of us, it comes down to a decision about whether or not to help an individual animal. And then abide by proper considerations for placement of that animal, depending on his or her species and status.