the starling and me


“Put brain in gear before opening mouth” — that’s what my dad used to tell me when I was younger. I was a chatterbox (do you remember the wooden phone on wheels?), always asking questions.

I still process out loud, but just as often I talk to myself silently. I’ve learned not to verbalize everything, so the inside of my head is filled to overflowing with talk and ideas, only some of which I manage to translate into action. For example, I’ve worked out what I want to say in my email reply, but sitting down and typing it becomes a chore because, in my mind, I’ve already replied and moved on. The moment I think of something should be the moment I do it, but I hesitate, and the moment is gone.

I think I could learn something from this starling, chattering away with her friends while she works, clambering on the suet cage, pecking at fallen seeds on the snow, talking and working at the same time. She has no baggage, no tasks untended, no projects piling up, no future plans. She lives in the moment, and she moves on.

If you’ve ever heard starlings perched outside your window, you’ll have heard their colourful language of bubbles, squeaks, catcalls and exclamations. They love to tell stories. I think if I ever get my brain examined (as people occasionally suggest), the brain surgeon would discover a flock of starlings chattering away inside my head.

Photo taken on January 27, 2011

8 thoughts on “the starling and me

  1. That was a fun entry to read. Now, every time I talk to myself (I try to hide it by pretending I’m talking to the cats), I’ll have a mental picture of starlings chattering inside my head.

  2. “When the pan was opened, the birds began to sing…” (brainpan, that is).

    I’m with you on the second paragraph. It used to happen to me all the time during my EngLit degree, analyzing a book, finding an intriguing web linking seemingly diverse clues, and then…not feeling like writing the essay that would share those findings. Tsk.

    • Ah, so I’m not the only one! Maybe it would be better to emulate the starlings and — notwithstanding the longer-term benefits of writing — realize that singing is the perfect form of spontaneous self-expression.

  3. Speaking of which…one of your sentences in this entry sounded awfully familiar, so I went through my “file”. This is a sentence from my blog back on November 29, 2008:

    “I know they’re an invasive…species, but their merry chuckles, whistles, and cat imitations bring a smile to the dark winter months.”

    Hmmm…”great minds”?

    • I see what you mean, LB — “colourful language of bubbles, squeaks, catcalls and exclamations” — it’s fun to see how people describe Starling Speak. (I certainly wouldn’t call it “bird song”!)

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