Yesterday I spent some time looking out from my front door as the school children were heading to school. They didn’t seem to me to be whining but some had shining faces and many did have satchels or their modern equivalents (see here) but there were definitely fewer of them than usual. And I wondered whether those school goers commented to each other that there were more cars parked in the streets, certainly in our street, than usual – fewer people had travelled to work.
While noticing these things, and trying to recall the Jacques speech on the seven ages of man, and musing on the changes that coronavirus will make to our lives, a Starling called or sang, difficult to know which in that particular case, from a wire above my head. Starlings are an underrated species, they are full of interesting behaviours and make some great noises and I looked at this bird, about twenty feet away from me, and watched and listened for a while.
It sat on a wire and that made me think in two ways at once. First, I have no idea what that wire is for and I’ve never really thought about it before. It looks a bit like a guy rope but I’m sure it isn’t there to stop our late Victorian red-brick semi-detached house from falling down, nor our neighbour’s half of the building. It must do something, maybe it’s a telephone line? I really don’t know and although I’ve lived in this house for about 20 years, and stood at this doorway hundreds of times, I’ve never really thought about it before. Actually, now I look, there are quite a lot of wires around the place and I don’t know what any of them are for except that several of them do have Starlings perching on them.
And I thought about perching on a wire. My Starling, still above me, and all the other Starlings I could see, made this look rather easy. They weren’t teetering and spreading their wings to correct their balance, they were just sitting there, with their claws wrapped around the wires, making it look easy. I admired the Starling for making look easy something which, when you think about it, is rather wonderful. Indeed, my Starling, in the space of just a few moments sat there, sang there, preened there, defecated from there and looked around nonchalantly – I was impressed. The more I thought about it the more impressed I was.
And when my Starling flew off, he, for I guess it was a he, made that look very easy too. It all happened very quickly but his departure from that wire didn’t look unsteady or clumsy or anything other than smooth and natural. And come to that, when my Starling perched next to another Starling on another wire (I don’t know what that wire is for either) he made that look very smooth too.
All the world is a stage, and we all play our parts on it, but we share that stage with other actors, with hundreds and thousands of species all playing their parts, and many of them, like my Starling, are a source of solace and interest, and are right on our doorsteps. Take a moment to look and listen to nature on your doorstep at this time of corona.