(Published in National Geographic, "The Beauty of Birds" Story, December 2018):
Common starlings pretty much live everywhere but I hadn't seen one until a summer in Northern Ca. in the mid 90's. One evening a massive flock of what seemed like tens of thousands, blacked out the sky and created a highly audible, tactile thumping. I had never seen as dramatic a flock as this, it felt like a biblical swarm. Almost every night that summer it happened again. My friends and I met and watched for weeks and since then, starlings don't seem all that common to me anymore.