Lord of the wings

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The Independent Online

Much twittering, we note, at the news that the starling continues as Britain's commonest bird after the annual count organised by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Messy, quarrelsome and aggressive are the more polite descriptions. Complaints wing in in from Newcastle to Brighton about their crowded rowdy roostings. Even the RSPB falls back on those well-known faint-praisers, "very attractive in their own way," "great characters".

It's the common thing, isn't it? Well, along with most of our birds, they are rather less common than they used to be. In these Le Pen days, we will merely mention, too, before moving smartly on, that most of those mass roosters all come over from Europe. Surely, though, our native starlings deserve credit for sticking out the British winter rather than following other flighty numbers south.

And do not forget that the Bard praised the starling's powers of mimicry; nor that Mozart considered his pet starling a muse, and recited a poem of thanks over the grave at its funeral. We say: flock on, Starling.