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Mozart's Starling

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  778 Ratings  ·  189 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)
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Pouting Always
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,
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
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
Julie Stielstra
Jan 05, 2018 rated it liked it
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
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
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
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
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
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, 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, or the
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: animals, biography, music
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
Sylvia Walker
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: birds, memoir, nature
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.
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
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
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
As always, Lyanda Lynn Haupt makes an 'ordinary' bird special -- in this case a despised species! By adopting her own European (Common) Starling, and doing musicological research, she discovers what Mozart's own pet starling may have contributed to his household, his happiness, and even two of his compositions. I especially enjoyed her imagining of what the house concert that introduced Mozart's "Haydn quartets" to Haydn and the world could well have been like: the starling just had to have sung ...more
May 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
When Mozart was alive, people kept song birds in their homes. Mozart did too. He bought a bird, a starling, that he heard singing a passage from on of his works. The mystery is that the work had yet to be performed. So where/how had the bird learned the passage?

Ms. Haupt, a bird lover, rescues/steals a baby starling and raises it in her home. She learns many things about starlings and Mozart while researching her book. I am particularly horrified by the idea of having a bird in the house let al
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I did really enjoy this book, especially about Carmen. She is a really good writer and did much research into Mozart and Star (his starling). It did almost make me interested in adopting a bird that would talk to me and that we could enjoy music together. I am not sure about the poop in my hair?
Give the book a try and you can also skim through the parts which may not interest you as much.
At least look at the You Tube-isn't Carmen adorable?
Mary Keen
Sep 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-overdrive
Good and v interesting re ability n personality of Carmen, her live-in startling --not easy to help Carmen flourish and survive in her family home. Also interesting since she, like most bird lovers, hate hoards of starlings for what they do to other birds, crops, etc. but loves Carmen.

But too much technical music info for me and also the visualization during her visit to Vienna to learn more about "Star" wasn't that enjoyable.

I really liked her previous book on crows.

Overdrive at 1.25
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 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
My one complaint is that there isn't a lot of evidence to support what she's written about, but I like her speculation. I do wish there had been more conclusive evidence for her to write about Mozart and his starling, but the information was well-written and presented all the same.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature
I love Lyanda Lynn Haupt books, and this was no exception. She is equal parts biologist, philosopher and mystic. It it is, it seems to me, the best way to write about nature.
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book of the year. Amazingly well-written. A joy to read.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Did you know Mozart had a pet starling? This non-fiction book touches on a lot of my favorite things: nature, birds, music, animal intelligence. Unique and fascinating. "We need to design human landscapes that are hospitable to more species of native birds. This means less grass and more trees."
Dana Hansen
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book and had not read the other reviews.
Coincidentally I was thinking the same thing as another reviewer— the most unusual book I think I’ve ever read! Liked the back and forth of raising a starling in the authors home, while researching the life of Mozart doing the same in his time.
I’ve traveled to Vienna and will hopefully visit there again this time paying particular attention to the Mozart Haus and details in the book!!
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I put off reading this book at first because I thought that this was just the factual recordings of a home science experiment. And my cat, who absolutely loves sleeping on hard things, kept using it as his pillow for his daily naps on my bed. Whatever, I thought, I'll get around to it. But I did want to do something with it soon. It kept jabbing me in the ribs when I rolled around in my sleep.

So one lazy Saturday afternoon when the power went out, again, I let my cat lazily roll off the front c
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book has begun very well and I am enjoying it a great deal. Stay tuned....:-)
This is just such a charming read. It makes you yearn to have a starling on your shoulder to play with. It makes the picture of Mozart developed in the movie "Amadeus" overly perverse.
I am tempted to find a baby starling and take it in as a pet with the exception of the fact that they poop in your hair. Well maybe I could get used to that. Who knows? A lovely read and so out of the main stream....:-)
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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

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“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.” 1 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...” 0 likes
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