Saturday essay: Safety in numbers
The starlings have been using a neighbor's giant silver maple as a way station for the past week or so. Their songs are as loud as their flights in unison are brief, the latter akin to a giant black Slinky being cast into the sky, curving slowly, then being snapped back into the branches.
For a time it was unclear why they were there.
The older fella walking by the other night, an evening that carried with it a decidedly cooler bite, an Irish sky and the sweet fragrances of not-quite-dry apple wood burning in a fireplace, said it was a sure sign of an early fall.
“And the acorns are dropping, too.” He pointed to the street oak that, as if on cue, expelled a handful more.
Indeed, such bird behavior can signal fall migration. But this is a tad early; official autumn is five weeks away. What else could it be? The answer came a few days later.
The starlings were back, loud as ever. You could see the beginnings of another Slinky exercise. But this time it was cut short and with a louder-than-usual cacophony of cries and wings flapping furiously.
The birds already sensed what the human eye was about to confirm: the blur of a predator — likely a hawk, perhaps a falcon — swooping out of the sky in hopes of seizing a straggler or two.
But it was not to be — this time. The bird of prey pulled up and back into the sky as the starlings once again found safety in numbers in their silver maple refuge.
— Colin McNickle
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances
- Host a Super Bowl?: False prophets/profits
- The Thursday wrap
- Alle-Kiski Laurels & Lances
- Greensburg Laurels & Lances
- The atom smasher
- State of surveillanc: The DEA database
- Greensburg Laurels & Lances
- Benchmarking questions: Fueling perversion
- Piercing the media’s shield: Muzzles & slopes