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European Starling Mimics a Hawk

We were out for our afternoon walk with the dog when we thought we heard a red-tailed hawk. We stopped to listen and take a good look but what we saw were two smaller dark birds in the top of the evergreen. They were chattering and I was thinking it was a myna bird….somewhere I had heard one before and I remembered its distinctive whistles and calls.

Starlings 2 11
I tried to zoom in and get a good look but they were too far away. They flew away.

Starling 2 13 11
We continued on the trail and then we heard the chattering again. This time I was able to get a little closer and take another photo. I cropped this one so it is a tad blurry but you can see what the basic shape is for this bird.

When we got home we pulled out the field guide and it told us that the starling and the myna are related. What was the most fascinating fact we learned is that the starling will mimic the red-tail hawk. You can hear it on
European Starling (scroll down and listen)
This is exactly what we heard!

Still learning after all this time!

4 thoughts on “European Starling Mimics a Hawk

  1. Stellar Jays also mimic red-tailed hawks and I ALMOST caught it on video last week. We have both birds in abundance here in NW. The way you can tell the difference is the mimic is not as long a peal and a bit higher note. The smaller birds just don’t have the lung capacity of the hawk so it is a shorter sound. SOOOO fun to study birds!

    BTW the Great backyard Bird count is this weekend. We are looking forward to participating again!

  2. There is a HUGE flock of starlings, red-winged blackbirds and grackles that visit our neighborhood every year just before the GBBC. They cover all the lawns in our neighborhood and the trees are just full of them. We can hear the cacophony of their calls and songs from inside the house. Still deciding if it is something I enjoy or if it weirds me out just a bit. 🙂

  3. How neat!!! Great photos.

    We had a European Starling land on our bird feeder right outside the family room window a couple of days ago. We all jumped up to look. What kind of bird is that?? It was gone too quickly for a photo.

    It has beautiful rainbow like colors up close – highlighted with that black. We found it in our bird book. It said that these are considered ‘junk birds’ by many. I say it’s beautiful.

  4. Tricia,

    I think maybe because it usually comes in large flocks and they can be sort of annoying and noisy that many think they are “junk birds”.

    I think like you do-they are iridescent and interesting.

    We had a flock of robins come through yesterday…amazing.

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