Jul 18 2012
The breeding season is over for the European starlings in my neighborhood.
The first sign that the adults had thrown in the towel came early this month when I noticed their beaks had completely changed from breeding season’s yellow back to black.
They’re also molting, replacing their dark, shiny feathers with new white-tipped ones that make them look speckled or “starry” (hence their starling name).
Right now they look like to the two birds in the foreground, above. Only two months ago they looked like this.
Not to be outdone, the juvenile starlings are molting, too. A newly fledged starling has drab brown feathers (click here to see) but they become starry by their first winter. Halfway through the molt sequence they look like the two motley birds in the background, above — drab heads, starry breasts.
Believe it or not, summer is half over.
The starlings, they are a’changing.
(photo by Daniel Plazanet on Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)