Friday, November 13, 2009


All throughout my life I've disliked starlings. They are loud and obnoxious birds that commit a host of sins including preying on the eggs of other smaller and prettier birds. In the formative years of my youth I heard many stories about the pestilent nature of starlings and the various efforts made to get rid of them. I think my favorite of such stories is that told of Grandpa Dunn feeding hundreds of starlings plaster of paris and the ensuing weeks filled with dead starlings as far as the eye could see. I even recall reading a small excerpt in the New Era wherein President Monson briefly discussed (without giving any doctrinal conclusion) the ethics of shooting starlings.
I personally remember many a happy afternoon spent alone in the field behind our house chasing starlings and trying to catch them. You may ask what I planned to do with them once I'd caught them, but I didn't think that far ahead. I just knew that it was absolutely necessary that they be caught. I never did succeed despite my diving lunges.
In the fall it seemed that all the starlings in the valley would congregate in Bluffdale and fly around en masse. It was always a fascinating sight to see their complex and ever-changing formations. It was almost like a dance the way they would shift completely in sync with the thousands of others all around them.
To me starlings are linked inextricably to Bluffdale and my childhood there. So while they are a vile creature, I can't help but to think of them fondly.
I recently ran across this video that glosses over the baser aspects of starlings' existence, but shows them for the beauty they are capable of creating. While I've never seen anything of this magnitude, this rekindled that begrudging fondness I have for starlings.


  1. David Chellis (Aunt Helen and Uncle Carl's grandson) and I used to hunt starlings with our BB-guns. Once after killing one, Uncle Carl convinced me that Mom would be supremely proud of me if I took it to her as a trophy. Imagining myself the hero, I was quite surprised when I unveiled it at home and... you can guess the rest.

  2. You're a great writer Sam!

    I liked the video as well.

    Stay warm!!

  3. David was always quite a wonderful hunter. Once when he and Grandpa Turner trapped and killed a big fat gopher, Grandpa must have convinced him that I would be supremely proud of him if he took it to me as a trophy. I can only guess that once again he imagined himself quite the hero and brought it into the kitchen, holding it by the tail. If you guessed what happened with the bird, I'm sure you can guess what happened with the gopher also. Poor David . . . to be so used and abused by the grown men in his life in their attempts to play a trick on a poor, helpless woman . . . However, David seemed to come out of it all unscathed, and lived to play many a trick of his own free will.

  4. I remember that elusive quest to catch one of those birds. You'd sneak up as quiet as possible and just when you were about two steps away, they'd all take off. Mom, I hope you've recovered from David's antics!