If you ask most people about the European Starling bird, they may refer to the recent publicity involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowing a massive eradication of the starling flocks invading Fallon, Fernley and Yerington.
The farmers stated it was to protect their crops and livestock. Others think of them as the “airline birds” as they are so sturdy their mobs are known for flying into airplane turbines. But the truth is they were brought to North America in 1890, by Shakespearean enthusiasts that longed to hear their song.
This is just one tidbit of information from Walker Lake’s Charlie Morris, the owner of a pet starling for over three years. “It was April 29, when our dog alerted us to something in the yard. We found this baby starling which had obviously fallen from its nest. We’ve always been animal lovers, but we knew nothing about saving a bird, so it began a real journey for my wife, Deanna and I.”
With the use of on-line sites like Starlings Talk and a bird vet, they saved this bird’s life and started a love affair.
“I thought it was a boy, so I named it Wally, after Wally Cox, the comedian that played Mr. Peepers in the fifties. The bird developed funny habits, began to enjoy baths and took over our bedroom. As a pet they can live 20 years in captivity. We later learned that Wally was a girl, but she kept the name anyway.”
Morris showed how the beginning portion of the beak was a light pink color, but a boy starling would be blue. Another standout about the starling is the spots, which come out beyond the juvenile stage. The head is sprinkled with star-like dots, contrasted by a bright yellow, pointed beak. “If Wally wasn’t in captivity she would only have a yellow beak during her mating season, but hers is always yellow.”
As Morris cooed to her, Wally approached him from her cage with raspy-throated phrases such as “pretty bird”, “come here”, “whatcha doing” and lovely murmurings.
Morris related his experience as a boy with pigeons. “While growing up in North Grand Rapids, Mich. I was on a farm with lots of family. I never had a fear of birds and I loved watching them.”
He recalled feeding the pigeons and enjoying the company of flocks.
“If you want an animal that needs sleep, a Starling is perfect. She requires 12 hours of sleep each night, so we cover her up from seven p.m. to seven a.m. Then we feed her meal worms, a dry food mix and crushed crickets as a treat. She gets vitamins and special drops to keep her healthy too. Bath time is when she’ll splash and make a mess as the facets water drops, but she enjoys it.”
Morris never thought of having a bird in his bedroom with free range to exercise, but Wally is special. With sheets over the furnishings, Wally will fly around to land on him as if visiting. “I’ve found out the true reason these head scarves are called “Doo-Rags”.
Morris shared the work he does with the sick as a driver to out-of-area doctor visits, and his love to help out veterans. His concern about the lack of volunteers needed to help with the community needs obviously weighs on his mind.
His fascination for animals is balanced out by his commitment to help people in their time of need; a trait to be commended.
As for Wally, she is content to live in her own room, tweeting out her love calls to her special parents.