Sunday, November 15, 2009


Not too many years ago we had a pet starling. I found it as a chick on the sidewalk outside of our then shop in Brooklyn. It obviously needed some help so I took it home, fed it baby bird food from an eye dropper and nursed it along. Named the bird Persnik... because he/she was always complaining about everything.

Leave the room Persnik would complain, enter the room Persnik would complain. Feed Persnik and all sorts of complaints. The bird was not exactly musical, not like the blue jay Blueboy that we had when I was a kid. Blueboy liked to sing along w/ Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos... Persnik liked to complain, bitterly. Whistle a little tune and Persnik would go nuclear. All the same I thought we were friends. It can be like that with friends.

In the spring I decided to give him/her freedom and took the cage out onto the front porch. When we let Blueboy loose he would not go away. The jay always hung around the house and would come visit us, and prefered to sit in his cage at night. Persnik had no such idea of human-bird communion... once the cage door was open he/she/it flew off across the street screeching and complaining the whole way. I felt... I felt abandoned.

My wife made up for my feelings of loss by giving me a pygmy African hedgehog that turned out to be a she and pregnant. Little hedgehogs do become attached to their human handlers.

Regardless, whenever I see a lone starling at the feeder I tell Persnik what is up for the day. Honestly, I can’t tell one starling from another.


  1. Lovely, post, thank you. Starlings make me think of our family's back garden in Ireland. They are beautiful birds, befitting of their name. I certainly never thought of them as complainers until now :-)

  2. Ethel: Thank you. I am happy to inspire your memories. As to complaints of starlings I think it has something to do with up close and personal. In a flock flight, or chattering away in a tree toward the end of a day, they are quite remarkable. ;-)