Famed Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart may have taken inspiration for one of his more unusual compositions from a starling he kept as a pet for three years, a researcher said Sunday.

An analysis of "A Musical Joke" shows the composition has the haphazard structure found in starling songs, according to Meredith West, a psychology professor at Indiana University in Bloomington."It's a very puzzling piece of music. Parts are off-key, phrases go on and on, an instrument stops in the middle of a note," West said in an interview before she presented her theory at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "This has starling written all over it."

Starlings, which are considered pests in the United States, are adept at immitating a wide range of sounds, ranging from dogs barking, babies crying and even door hinge squeaking to human voices and songs.