Starlings, the Marmite birds - where have they all gone?

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The Starling is perhaps best known for its squabbling behaviour at bird feeders, and the huge flocks which form a dancing murmuration during the winter. Or rather it used to be!

The stark facts are that between 1967 and 2015, Britain's breeding population of Common Starling crashed by a staggering 87 per cent. Mostly due to the actions of Humans.

Starlings no longer nest in large parts of Wales and Southern England.

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They are therefore now on The Red List, being a bird of high conservation concern. (British Ornithology Trust).

James, Claudia, Dan Melly, John Wealthall and John Bell.  Photo taken by Susie TopleyJames, Claudia, Dan Melly, John Wealthall and John Bell.  Photo taken by Susie Topley
James, Claudia, Dan Melly, John Wealthall and John Bell. Photo taken by Susie Topley

Some people see them as pests, flying rats! But some intrepid residents of Hill View in Berkhamsted, recognised the need to live alongside nature and that these highly intelligent birds now need some help.

Starlings like to nest in the eaves of houses, which can cause problems and lead people to replacing their soffits and blocking off potential nesting sites. This group of neighbours like to greet the starlings each morning as they gather on the roofs and wanted to redress the balance by providing some potential new homes for these enigmatic birds.

John Bell managed to obtain a small grant from Birds on the Brink UK, towards buying boxes for the Starlings to nest in. The neighbours paid the remainder themselves.

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On a recent very cold Sunday morning the neighbours, ladder, power tools and new nesting boxes in hand, managed to put up 6 boxes on the Northerly facing sheltered walls of their houses. It involved some smart rooftop and ladder skills but, in the end, the group all felt closer together as a community and satisfied with the worthwhile job that they had done. They would like to inspire others to take a similar approach.

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