20 DECEMBER 1946, Page 17

Starling Statistics Two letters have come to me on the

subject of the population of starlings, one giving an ecstatic account of the manoeuvring of untold multitudes over a space of some twenty acres (in Nottinghamshire), the ether pointing out the surprising absence of the bird as compared with previous years and expressing the wonder that no reference to such dearth has been noted in papers devoted to natural history. " Whom shall my soul believe? " A third letter mentioned the comparative scarcity of the birds in the Channel Islands. The population, of course, is sharply divided into two groups, which differ to some extent in plumage as well as in habit. There are the brighter, home-bred birds and the flocks of rather greyer immigrants which pour into the country from the North-East in winter. So far as my observation has gone, the home-bred birds seemed rather fewer than usual—there were no nests nor the usual care- lessly scattered eggs within my pale. As to the immigrants, enormous " murmurations " have been seen, and sonic observers have been inclined to think that the gregarious habit has been increasing. Some of the roosts are of such inordinate proportions that it has been suggested that the collection of their guano might be worth while!