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It is a huge responsibility, taking a starling into your life. And a lot of work. My days have started to revolve around when Ferdinand needs to be fed, when to schedule his out of cage time.

It’s no different than when he was a helpless little chick, but it is easier to ignore the high levels of demand inherent in an adolescent or adult starling. There is no longer the fear he will die if I do not feed him every hour. It is easier to try and cut corners in regards to interaction and nutrition. It is the same with any pet, except that there are no easy corner cuts available on the market for a starling.

Flight suits are a way to control the things your starling defecates on, and restricts flight. Having cats, the flight suit and it's lead serve as a precautionary measure for times when we are moving through the house. Inside a closed room, Ferdinand enjoys suit-free flight.

Before you decide to take in a baby starling, consider that their food is a mixture of dog food, hard boiled egg, apple sauce, calcium, and bird vitamins that you will have to prepare and store. Adult food is a similar mixture, and again it is on your shoulders to prepare it. Baby starlings have voracious appetites and are vocal with their demands. Are you up to carting a hungry little bird around until it is weaned? I had strange and wonderful adventures involving explaining to my staff at the library why I had to step out once an hour to feed the little guy. It was cool enough early in the season that my car, windows down, was comfortable for a starling in his container of towels, both cloth and paper. They need things to grip as they develop or their feet will not develop properly. Ferdinand has one toe that will never grip properly- probably the result of not enough stuff to cling to as a baby.

Ferdinand in his flight suit visiting Mildmay. Mildmay is used to being around a slew of rescue animals, both large and small, but still I have my hand on Ferdinand's leash just in case he gets too interested in Mildmay's personal space, and am prepared to grab Mildmay the instant his body language shifts

They are not cage birds. They are wonderfully social and since you have now hand raised it, your starling will rely on you for its main source of social stimulation. You are it’s flock and family. It will need to be out and interacting with you. Remember, birds poop. Indiscriminately. On You. On things you love. Other pets in the household can pose a threat, no matter how friendly they seem with each other.

That being said, taking in a starling is a magnificent experience. I am most assuredly a bird person, and having Ferdinand from awkward (ugly) little nestling to a dashing chap who is getting in his stars (white tipped adult feathers on his chest) has given me a new insight into birds and their behavior. He is so different than the typical domestic birds I am more familiar with raising and living with- you have to really work to win him over and he is not shy about letting you know when he is unhappy. He is less inclined to just sit on my shoulder like a conure or lovebird, and very interested in exploring everything. He is a companion more than a pet.

He greets me in the morning. Plays happily with his toys while I work at the computer. Sings with me while I listen to music. They are brilliant little creatures. If nothing else, having him, taking him places with me, allows me to scrub away some of the misconceptions folks have about them as nothing more than pests. Non-native, yes. Pests? In some senses, as a result of their non-native status, yes. But they are much, much more than that.