Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mozart's Starling” as Want to Read:
Mozart's Starling
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mozart's Starling

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,683 ratings  ·  385 reviews
A charming story of Mozart and his pet starling, along with a natural history of the bird.

On May 27th, 1784, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met a flirtatious little starling who sang (an improved version of!) the theme from his Piano Concerto Number 17 in G to him. Knowing a kindred spirit when he met one, Mozart wrote "That was wonderful" in his journal and took the bird home to
ebook, 256 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Little, Brown and Company (first published April 4th 2017)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mozart's Starling, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mozart's Starling

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,683 ratings  ·  385 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Mozart's Starling
Always Pouting
This was a really unique book, I've never read anything like it. The author raises a starling chick and writes about the experience while also interweaving in the story of Mozart and his starling as well as talking about people's hate for the starling. I really enjoyed the pictures of the starling because animal pictures are always a big hit with me and it was fun reading the experience of raising the chick. Also I didn't know about Mozart and his starling so that was cool. The book also made so ...more
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
"A blend of natural history, biography, and memoir, Mozart's Starling is a tour de force that awakens a surprising new awareness of our place in the world." from the publisher
First I was charmed, then delighted; then I felt educated, and finally, elevated. In beautiful language and uplifting insight, Mozart's Starling is my most unexpected find of the year. I loved every page.

The book is a wonderful blend of subjects. A nature study of the starling and its ability to mimic; a memoir of life with
Kevin Parsons
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having just read Bernd Heinrich's wonderful book "One Bird at a Time" which contained a chapter about a Starling who befriended the author (actually flew onto his hand and allowed himself to be taken home) and spent a winter at his house (and which also contained an antidote about Mozart's pet Starling), I was excited when my lovely librarian wife brought home an ARC of this book this weekend from the ALA conference in Atlanta.

It turned out to be a wonderful book about Mozart, Starlings, music,
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure why I entered this giveaway. I have little interest in Mozart. I have about an equal interest in birds. And yet, that is precisely how I know that Lyanda Lynn Haupt has written a beautiful and masterful piece of nonfiction. Without even an ounce of interest in the subject matter, I fell in love with every word of this book. It's fascinating, it's mindful, it's serene, it's funny, and it's absolutely stunning. I should have finished it in about three days. I, instead, took a week and ...more
Julie Stielstra
Jan 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: birds
If you love birds and/or music (especially Mozart), this will likely charm you. If you don't particularly care about either, it may not. As an enthusiastic birdwatcher and bird feeder, I did enjoy Haupt's tale of her hand-caught and raised starling, Carmen. Starlings are smart, personable, funny, vocal and quite delightful one-on-one, rather like the author, I think - Haupt and Carmen are both good company. Haupt is very good at covering acres of biological and ornithological research in a brigh ...more
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
"In conservation circles, starlings are easily the most despised birds in all of North America, and with good reason."

"Common, invasive, aggressive, reviled. Starlings don't just lie beneath our notice, the sentiment runs, they are actually undeserving of our notice."

I have been birding nearly two years and I did not realize that starlings held this much disdain. Well, I just received an extensive education on starlings, as the author uses these birds as informative and entertaining bookends: In
Sep 25, 2017 rated it liked it
The first half of this book was a solid 4 stars. While the story revolves around Carmen (the writer's pet starling) instead of Mozart's Starling, it was still a fascinatingly written exploration of starling ability and the way they fit into our historical and current social landscape. Haupt contrasts the disdain felt towards starlings today with the more positive attitude towards these birds in Mozart's time. She makes well researched arguments about starling's abilities and the possible influen ...more
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Main take-aways from this book for me are 1) starlings are not the devil. Yes invasive, but we can alter our landscapes to discourage their roosting and lessen their numbers in humane ways. 2) Pigeons, despite being introduced to America via settlers as food sources, are not considered invasive. Weird, cuz I see WAAAAY more of them then any other bird I feel. 3) Starlings are close to endangered in Europe. Go figure. Maybe we should get endangered species and introduce them into not their natura ...more
Dec 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, birds
3.5 stars. A generally enjoyable, if light and not entirely satisfying read.

To be clear, I am not a music person. I am not incapable of enjoying it, but it is not important to me and not part of my life in the way it seems to be for most. I say that so you understand that I'm here for the starling, not for Mozart.

I don't read a great deal of this type of non-fiction. I expect there's a label for it, but I don't know what that is. My first impulse was to describe it as the cotton candy of non-fic
Given inspiration by a beguiling anecdote about the 18th century composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lyanda Lynn Haupt adopted a starling of her own, Carmen, to live with her and her family.
Kate Forsyth
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this lovely little hardback at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, which claims to be the biggest bookstore in the world. It certainly seemed so to me! I wandered in it for hours and bought far too many books.

Lyanda Lynn Haupt is a naturalist and author with several books about birds under her belt. Mozart’s Starling – her fifth – was inspired by a beguiling anecdote about the 18th century composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The story goes that, in 1784, Mozart encountered a playful
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although some of the passages about Mozart's life with the starling sounded more imaginative than credible, she did some engaging and cogent myth-busting about Mozart's relationship with his father and his own death. She swept me off my feet, though, with her chapter on the music of the spheres, especially on murmuration (cloud-like flocks of starlings, a word evoking the sound of their wings). She succeeded in what she hopes creative work does "to show the wild imperfect harmony of the world we ...more
Sylvia Walker
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, nature, birds, reread
This is an enchanting book, about Mozart, music, language, birds, ecology, and philosophy, too, and the wondrous Intelligence all of our intelligences are a part of. The author's starling, Carmen, is a charming bird, loved by the author and her family, as Mozart loved his starling, whose name in not known. Beautifully written.
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
4.5-5 stars. I loved this charming book that covers such a wide range of topics within the framework of Mozart and starlings: the ecological nightmare of starlings vs. the endearing traits and habits of the individual starling Haupt lives with (and possibly, by extension, Mozart's little pet); Mozart's music and life situated within historical context; starling habits and adaptations; an overview of the linguistic study of language acquisition and theories of language, with fascinating informati ...more
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 out of 5 stars. Charming book for any music and/or bird lover. Part memoir of the author's life with a pet starling she raised from a baby with a bit of natural history thrown in and part Mozart's life with a pet starling and the influence it may have had on Mozart's music, most notably "A musical joke" and the endearing character of Papageno, the bird catcher in his opera, "The Magic Flute". Mozart was so enchanted by a starling he found in a pet shop which mimicked nearly perfectly a snatc ...more
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Good: Natural history, biography, and memoir framed by the story of Mozart’s pet bird and it’s species
The Bad: Often flits from topic to topic, with Mozart as more the inspiration than the core
The Literary: Favoring primary sources and a personal pilgrimage to Vienna

In 1784, in a little Viennese shop, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart adopted a flirtatious little starling who sang the theme from his Piano Concerto Number 17 in G . Little is known about the subsequent three years Mozart and his family
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who knew there was so much to learn about starlings? A delightful read!
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received my copy of Mozart’s Starling through a goodreads giveaway. This review was originally posted on my blog.

In Mozart’s Starling, Lyanda Lynn Haupt has written a fascinating book that teaches about starlings, a bird often hated in North America. We learn their history and how they were introduced to North America, and we learn about their behaviors, skills, and habits. But this book is also a story about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, about his life, family, and inspiration, about his music and
Someone I haven't seen or even much corresponded with for years contacted me saying that I'd probably like this book. It is not hard to sell me on Mozartiana, and the specificity of that recommendation also seemed promising.

The book turned out to be another Unexpected Memoir, much less about Mozart than about the author's own efforts to keep a starling as a house pet, with some other asides into miscellaneous starling lore (e.g., how starlings' use of song informs linguists' views of language, o
I wanted to like this book more than I did but so much of the book is supposition. The author is not a specialist regarding Mozart or his music. Her bird specialty is restricted to having captured and owning a starling. She seems to claim what music is inspired by Mozart's bird (ludicrous) as well as other suppositions about Mozart. I appreciate that she includes information regarding the hundreds of millions of dollars in damage starlings do to our country each year. Aside from that I accept he ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I loved this book, but will you?

I'm guessing you will love Mozart's Starling if:

you love music or birds, especially if you love both; you enjoy nature/environmental writing--from classics like Thoreau's Walden Pond Rachel Carson's Silent Spring to recently published The Ogallala Road by Julene Bair and The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben;

you are someone who believes everything is connected and therefore it makes sense to you when someone explores a question (What is the Starling and w
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, animals, biography
This is a book to savor. And it has so much to savor!

Carmen, Haupt's clever, charming, sociable starling, is the star of the book. Her behavior is so delightful, and her ability to mimic so precise, that Haupt is not at all surprised that Mozart loved his own pet starling - which may have sung a snippet of his own concerto to him in the store where he bought it. Details of Mozart's life and music, information and observations of usually-reviled starlings, poetry, linguistics, and the nature of
Jul 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
I hated this book. I love Mozart, Vienna, and birds, and I hated this book. The author purports to be a naturalist, but kept this captive wild bird in her home and attributed all sorts of human behavior and emotions to it. Spare me. There is an extensive body of better-informed analysis of Mozart, his life and times, and even of his starling. Haupt adds nothing to the subject, adding insight only into her not very interesting self.
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
Interesting book about starlings, two in particular, and about Mozart. Before reading it, I wasn't sure the subject matter would interest me enough to keep me going until the end, but it actually did. I really enjoyed the fluid writing, and all the information given about starlings and about Mozart's life.
Nancy Schoellkopf
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
True confession: I’m not a big fan of nonfiction. It’s not that I have anything against authors who make valiant efforts to record reality, but every minute I spend reading nonfiction is time that could be spent reading a novel. I love novels.

So when I bought Mozart’s Starling, somehow I’d gotten the idea it was a work of historical fiction. I mean, it’s about Mozart’s pet bird, right? But whoa, happy accident!—because I love love love this book. Part memoir, part nature essay, part travelogue—a
Joseph Adelizzi, Jr.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I know nothing about music, and my wife hates birds, so Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s book Mozart’s Starling was the perfect book for me to read.

Hmm. Let me start over.

I have had a lifelong curiosity about animal behavior, positive there was so much more there than we were willing to admit, and I have been fascinated by what makes genius, how one individual could so far outpace the rest of humanity and then open our eyes or our ears or our minds in such ways as to give new dimension to our entire specie
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: january
I am not really a fan of birds. But this looked interesting. So imagine my surprise when I actually enjoyed it! The beginning of the book was the most interesting. Lots of facts about starlings. I had no idea that they were an invasive species! And there are some great research references that make me want to learn more.
Also, I did not know the history of how starlings were introduced to America. It is pretty fascinating how literature can impact us in this fashion.
The middle of the book was a
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was very moved by this book and impressed by the elegant way that Haupt laced together so many threads: the science of starling behavior and the history of their invasive status in the United States; research on passerine birds and their capacity for mimicry; linguistic theories and animal philosophy; Mozart's biography and the divergent theories and interpretations of that life and its incidents. Haupt tells the story of her own experience hand-raising a starling and adopting her (Carmen the ...more
David Dunlap
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly delightful book! The poor (European) starling, introduced to the United States in the 1890s by Bardophile Eugene Schieffelin (who believed that every bird mentioned in his beloved Shakespeare should be in Central Park), has been dubbed the world's most hated bird. (Starlings are one of three kinds of bird not protected by law; it's open season on them all the time...) Naturalist Haupt had her interest in starlings piqued when she read that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had a pet starling, ...more
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating story, about Mozart's musical pet starling and how starlings, possibly the most hated bird, are resilient, extraordinary animals.

Most of the book is about Carmen, a starling Haupt guerilla rescues and raises. It is research but Carmen soon becomes a member of Haupt's family. Her personality, inquisitive and affectionate as well as her mimicry lead Haupt to wonder how a small bird may have influenced Mozart's work, including A Musical Joke and one of his most famous characters and
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Hidden World of the Fox
  • The Professor and the Parson: A Story of Desire, Deceit and Defrocking
  • Cutting Back: My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto
  • The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London
  • Surfacing
  • Border Songs
  • What It's Like to Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing—What Birds Are Doing, and Why
  • Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder
  • Peregrine Spring: A Master Falconer's Extraordinary Life with Birds of Prey
  • A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith
  • The Talented Ribkins
  • The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human
  • A Season on the Wind: Inside the World of Spring Migration
  • Zabelle
  • Exit Lines (Dalziel & Pascoe, #8)
  • Pictures of Perfection (Dalziel & Pascoe, #14)
  • Recalled to Life (The Dalziel and Pascoe Mysteries Book 14)
  • Dottoressa: An American Doctor in Rome
See similar books…
Lyanda Lynn Haupt is a naturalist, eco-philosopher, and speaker whose writing is at the forefront of the movement to connect people with nature in their everyday lives. Her newest book is Mozart's Starling:

“Mozart’s Starling is a delightful, enlightening, breathless flight through the worlds of Carmen and Star, two European starlings who join their human co

Related Articles

If you follow the world of food, chances are you’ve heard of David Chang. The founder of the Momofuku restaurant group, Chang is a chef, TV...
45 likes · 5 comments
“And what is this wild summons? What art is asked of us? The gift offered is different for each but all are equal in grandeur. To paint, draw, dance, compose. To write songs, poems, letters, diaries, prayers. To set a violet on the sill, stitch a quilt,; bake bread; plant marigolds, beans, apple trees. To follow the track of the forest elk, the neighborhood coyote, the cupboard mouse. To open the windows, air beds, sweep clean the corners. To hold the child’s hand, listen to the vagrant’s story, paint the elder friend's fingernails a delightful shade of pink while wrapped in a blanket she knit with deft young fingers of her past. To wander paths, nibble purslane, notice spiders. To be rained upon. To listen with changed ears and sing back what we hear.” 4 likes
“I care with the brightened curiosity of one who loves a subject for no rational reason, but who loves it nonetheless and prodigally. This is the ardor of the academic Austenologist who believes that if she looks beneath the floorboards of the right dusty attic, she will find the diary entry explaining why Jane Austen rejected her one marriage proposal the day after she'd accepted it; of the birder in Costa Rica tiptoeing through tails of biting ants and fer-de-lance serpents in hopes of glimpsing a rare hummingbird that no one has seen for fifteen years. I could list such loves forever, the sort that visit our imaginations on the cusp of the impossible but that we cannot erase from our minds. We follow the trail with whatever breadcrumbs we can gather, with hope, with love, with an almost magical combination of urgency and patience...” 1 likes
More quotes…