Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Starling Updates in 2023

 Some exciting starling research updates for 2023!

1) Together with starling collaborators near and far, we published a Review Article in Biological InvasionsGlobal invasion history and native decline of the common starling: insights through genetics. 

2) I am thrilled to announce that I am writing a non-fiction, natural history book about Starlings - to be published by Columbia University Press

3) Our starling morphology manuscript, where we report rapid phenotypic change in North American starlings, is currently in review...

To be continued...

Sunday, December 18, 2022

The fault lies not in our starlings...

some starling updates (2022): 

1) I published a (fun) piece about starlings walking on the Upper West Side streets, here

2) I published a (more serious) article in the Connecticut Audubon State of Birds Report for 2022, which discusses recent research which shows that, contrary to popular belief, there is little evidence that starlings outcompete native birds in the US. 

3) The starling morphological evolution project is still underway, and we are excited to have new data coming in from birds in Wales, UK. Stay tuned for more on that in 2023...

4) With collaborators in Australia, we have a starling review paper coming out in Biological Invasions in 2023!

5) There is more that I hope to be able to share in a few months...

Monday, April 11, 2022

Scientific American Article

I published an opinion piece in Scientific American (May 3, 2021) about European starlings where I touch on topics such as: the lack of evidence for the Shakespeare connection, damage to farms, disease spread, the privilege of park going, and the health benefits of spending time in nature (with birds):

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Starling updates

What a weird year it was, but things were pretty busy on the starling front and I wanted to share a few updates:

1) We published our Starling Mitochondrial DNA paper in Ecology & Evolution:

2) The journal kindly asked us to write a blog about our paper!

3) Our work was featured in Forbes!

4) We spoke about our research at the American Museum of Natural History’s online SciCafe (video recording available upon request):,-Part%20of%20SciCafe&text=In%201890%2C%20approximately%20100%20birds,starlings%20in%20the%20US%20today.

5) I was featured on the College of Mount Saint Vincent website:

And because we have no shortage of birds, or ideas, stay tuned for more to come...

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Mozart's Starling

I am finally getting around to reading the book Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt.

It is a well-researched, deftly written account of starlings, and focuses on two individual birds in particular. One, a pet starling kept by Mozart himself. The other, the author’s own pet starling that she raised from a chick. I cannot deny that her lovingly detailed account is making me want a pet starling more than anything. Because then, I could be learning from them all the time.

One excerpt from the book really struck me. It perfectly sums up the complexity of the relationship with these birds:

“Starlings are shimmering, plain, despised, charming, collectively devastating, individually fascinating. We have the capacity to realize that while a species may be ecologically undesirable, the individuals of the species are just birds. Beautiful, conscious, intelligent in their own right. Innocent. Do I want starlings gone? Erased from the face of North America? Yes, unequivocally. Do I resent them as aggressive invaders? Of course. And do I love them? Their bright minds, their sparkling beauty, their unique consciousness, their wild starling voices? Their feathers, brown from one angle, shining from another? Yes, yes, I do. ”

Thursday, May 9, 2019

European Starlings: Jerks, Bad Asses and New Yorkers

A short radio piece where I refer to European starlings as “bad asses”, for their adaptive flexibility, dispersal and expansion, and all-around industriousness. Not to diminish the seriousness of the threats they pose to native species, crops, livestock and airplanes - but just to say, they are biologically amazing, and don’t seem to care that they aren’t loved.