This morning, nice and early, I was still in bed, watching my starling strutting up and down the railing, near the feeder. He’d just frightened off a pack of sparrows, and was gloating — y’know, puffing out his little chest, making self-satisfied chortling noises, all that sort of thing. I felt a certain kinship with him, at that moment. I behave in much the same fashion, when I’ve just made some little accomplishment. I opened my mouth to say “Good on ya, Mr. Starling,” but even if I’d made it that far, he’d never have heard it: in the very instant I thought to speak, down came the falcon. It was the most graceful breakfast grab I’ve ever seen; I’ll give him that. He never even landed, all the way. He swooped in, sank his talons into the starling’s back, and was off on the next wingbeat, up and away. I think he must’ve pierced something vital, with those great hooked claws of his. The starling never made a peep.

Now, I recognise that the falcon’s got to eat, and indeed, wish him happy dining, but I’ve two little beefs with his behaviour. All falcons on the Internet — peregrine, gyr, and otherwise — take note, for future reference:

1) That starling you ate was the fruit of months of coaxing, tempting, seedbag-shaking, whistling, holding up plates of suet, and otherwise courting its attention. It had not yet had time to whistle up other starlings. I may never coax a starling to my balcony, again. Couldn’t you have had one of the sparrows, or maybe a nice, plump finch? I’ve got loads of those.

2) This balcony is a sit-down restaurant, not a drive-through. You eat; you get photographed. That’s the deal. No grab-and-runs, particularly if you’re beautiful. Which you are, Mr. Starling-Eating Peregrine Bugger.

3) If you absolutely must nosh on my less common visitors, at least wait till I’ve added a few good shots of them to my collection! I’d been avoiding photographing the starling too much, so it would get comfortable coming here, and bring more starlings. See what patience gets you!

The last (rather mediocre) picture I took of my starling, before the neighbourhood falcon got him.  A rather poor memorial, I must say!

The last (rather mediocre) picture I took of my starling, before the neighbourhood falcon got him. A rather poor memorial, I must say!

(Regular updates on birdie high society, and on my outdoor adventures, shall resume tomorrow. I’ve been languishing under the rigours of a miserable cold, but I’m now…languishing slightly less.)

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