I was on my break at work when I had an unusual (and ultimately depressing) experience with a pair of these guys and their fairly obnoxious parents and relatives.
Noticing the amount of bird activity near and around the back door, and the great bright blue sky, I decided to go ahead and grab my camera out of my car and see what I could get. Based on research later, I am fairly certain that these are Common Starling, also known as European Starling. They had nested inside a vent or pipe in the back of the building, and the 6 or 7 adults (at this point I had only spotted the adults) were being fairly noisy and generally aggressive towards each other.
I noticed one bird fly off of the roof onto a nearby awning, and then into the vent hole. Out of the hole, then fell a small blackish fluffy object. I realized that it was a chick.
Excitedly, I crept slowly towards the chick as it wandered the sidewalk. The grownups had retreated to a nearby tree, and watched as the human with the strange black thing (camera) advanced on the young bird that had just failed an early flying lesson. The chick simply scampered for the cover of a nearby trash can and hoped for the best. Luckily, I don’t hurt wildlife. I also relied on a zoom lens and tried not to get too close (remembering an incident from my college days where I accidentally discovered a grackle nest, the result included blood and thanking God I was wearing my glasses, or I would not have a left eye today.)
As I angled around to get another picture at a new angle, I caught something in the corner of my eye. I turned around and noticed this little guy.
The chick’s poor brother-or-sister did not bounce back from their flying lesson. And the other birds did not seem to pay their fallen child any heed. This all reminded me that nature, that thing we idealize and view as the absolute harmony and absolute ideal, comes with a price. Survival often means abandoning a fallen comrade. Survival sometimes requires killing to stay alive. Nature knows no moral authority, no conscientious objection, no mourning period; life moves on or it dies. Maybe that is all that really separates us from nature. Maybe this separation from nature is a good thing sometimes, because Darwinian cutthroat moral detachment, well, that’s for the birds!