The Starling: an underrated bird.
The latin name for the Common Starling is Sturnus vulgaris. The collective noun for a starling is a filth. Rude, right?! These terms illustrate that our namesake is a bird that is easily seen as a common-place garden feathered creature or worse - a pest.
So why did we choose a Starling bird to model ourselves on?
Starlings have a lot more to them than first meets the eye. They look plain black from a distance. But take a look at the feathers of a Starling, and this seemingly humble bird begins to look more interesting. The subtle changes in colour with hints of greens purples and teals, the proud chest, the alert stance all make for a handsome feathered friend. But as lovely as a single starling is, the true beauty is revealed when these birds get together in a flock.
Few acts of nature are as breath-taking as a Starling murmuration. I grew up on the south coast of England, near one of the most famous Starling haunts of all - the old West Pier in Brighton. My dad, a keen photographer, would take me to watch this sight, and we’d be hypnotised by this rare treat of nature.
The way the birds flock together in this way is mesmerizing. Effortless choreography, darting from one side of the sky to another in seconds, without a collision or hint of hesitation. That’s community spirit and collaboration right there, and something we strive for in our own work singing with groups! Starlings are highly social whether on the ground or in the air, again making a great name pal for our company where people are at the heart of what we do.
It’s also a little known fact that Starlings sing! These songbirds are a brilliant mimic, often heard imitating other birds, telephones or even the flows of human conversation. A few, like ‘Motzart’ in the YouTube clip below have been captured whistling and reciting words. So evolved is the Starlings' musicality that they can recognise individuals by their calls and have been studied by scientists researching early human speech.
Far from shy and retiring - Starlings are described by the RSPB as ‘noisy and gregarious’ - Starlings have all the stage presence and spirit of a Broadway star (and part of the name too!). Like the bird, human Starlings aren't afriad to sing - in fact, everyone who has sung with us knows that the benefits of singing with others far outweighs the initial fear of others hearing your voice.
So starlings have a look, positive attitude and voice fit for performance and so we strive to be like them - getting together to sing, dance and have fun, occasionally wearing black and teal in groups in schools, businesses and communities across London and beyond!
Most of all, everyone can be a Starling. Like our feathered friends, with Starling Arts, there's no grandeur, audition or initiation ceremony. Just people singing together, taking flight and creating something beautiful that never would have been possible without the flock.