by Adam Pasco

Every few days I just happen to look outside at the very moment a large flock (or should that be 'swarm'?) of starlings descends on my lawn.

ap-101108-starlings1Every few days I just happen to look outside at the very moment a large flock (or should that be 'swarm'?) of starlings descends on my lawn. They really are quite a sight.

Unlike bluetits or blackbirds, which you might see in twos or threes, or sparrows, which come in small groups, starlings always arrive mob-handed. It's hard counting them, as they're constantly on the move.

And exactly what they're feeding on as they peck their way across my lawn is a mystery. Can there really be enough worms or grubs hiding below soil level to feed this hungry horde, and how do starlings know there's food there anyway?

In the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch last January, starlings came in at number 2 in the top ten of most commonly seen gardenĀ birdsĀ - just behind sparrows and ahead of blackbirds. I'm not surprised by their numbers. I often see groups of them in flight, particularly at sunset, when they're clearly looking for a communal roosting site - at other times of day there are none in sight.

All this starling activity highlights the value of a lawn in providing food for many species of bird throughout the year - it's a shame that so many people seem keen on paving over their lawn or covering it with gravel and decking.

Just think how many visiting birds we could enjoy in our gardens if fences were replaced by hedges. I think I feel a new campaign coming on ... anyone fancy joining me?

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Talkback: Starlings
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Gardeners' World Web User 12/11/2008 at 15:42

Not a flock or swarm but murmeration!

Gardeners' World Web User 12/11/2008 at 16:43

Yes, 'murmeration' ..... I know what you mean, and much more subtle than twiteration. I wonder what others think?

Gardeners' World Web User 12/11/2008 at 22:23

you put bred out for the small birds you put seed on the bird table you pay pounds for fat balls you get bird feeders with nuts and seeds you say the gray squirall is bad what about the starling they dont give any other bird a chance not one they gust cume down eat every thing in the bird table and not give another bird a chance

Gardeners' World Web User 15/11/2008 at 15:59

I have had one 'Hayward' and one 'Tomouri' Kiwi growing against my South-facing garage wall for 20 years or so. I never feed or water them and pruning consists of severe cutting back all summer just to keep the rank growth under control. Two years ago I had a superb crop of fruit, however, this year has topped that. I have just finished harvesting and boxing the fruits from the single 'Hayward' and have crop with 780 fruits; is this a record for one vine? I live in sunny Clacton, Essex.

Gardeners' World Web User 16/11/2008 at 13:43

Hedges in Fences out!!!!

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