Species spread out after fan of the Bard imported 100
By Ernie Cowan | 3:46 p.m. March 18, 2016
Some might call the European starling an obnoxious interloper, while the more refined bird lover may refer to it as the “Shakespeare Bird.”
However you view this ubiquitous black bird, there is no denying that it has had an impact since its unique introduction to
in 1890. America
Long before the scientific world became concerned with the impacts of introducing nonnative species, a total of 100 starlings were released in
’s New York
City . Eugene Schieffelin was a Shakespeare lover who
wanted to bring to Central
Park as many birds
as possible mentioned by the Bard in his poems. America
Shakespeare lovers will know that there are frequent references to wrens, owls, larks and more than 60 other species in his works. The starling was mentioned just once in the play “Henry IV.”
At no small expense, Schieffelin initially imported 60 starlings and released them on a March day in
. A year
later, he introduced an additional 40 birds. Central Park
They liked their new home and soon multiplied. Within 50 years, they had spread to every state, and today they number an estimated 200 million.
The first starlings were reported in
late 1940s, according to Philip Unitt, author of the San Diego County Bird
In addition to competing with native species for food and nesting locations, there have been estimates that starlings cause at least $800 million in crop damage annually.
Much of the damage they cause is the result of their concentrations. Massive flocks of hundreds of thousands of birds are known as murmurations, and while beautiful, they can be destructive, even dangerous to aircraft, with more than 800 incidents reported by the Federal Aviation Administration.