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NORTH SALT LAKE — It's quite a spectacle of nature: Massive groups of starlings put on quite an aerial show along the Jordan River, and they've even invaded neighborhoods. It's a seasonal migration that's lasting a little longer this year.
We've seen them in massive flocks before, and it's not necessarily an unprecedented invasion or wintering congregation this fall, but there are a couple of reasons you'll see so many of them this year near the banks of the Jordan River: They also found a plentiful food source in these Russian olives, which had a bumper year.
"The birds pick at them and eat kind of the outside rind," said Jared Zierenberg, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
As long as the olives and bugs on the ground are not covered by snow, and the cold weather doesn't push them south, the starlings will stay longer.
"As we get snow here, they'll move down to Arizona, and they'll start concentrating on the food sources down there," Zierenberg said.
Zierenberg said people are seeing the birds more this year because with the nice weather, there are a lot more people out. But the birds can be invasive.
They were brought over from Europe in 1890, and are now the second most prevalent bird in North America. They can cause problems at airports, feedlots, and even your backyard.
"Sometimes they can be hard to move, but clapping two boards together makes a nice, loud racket, and you can get them moved on," Zierenberg said.