Saturday, March 12, 2011

Shakespeare is to blame for starlings in the US

Okay, maybe not Shakespeare as much as a guy who liked his writing: Eugene Schieffelin. Eugene had the bright idea of introducing to America every bird found in the works of William Shakespeare. And, alas, in Henry IV, the Bard mentioned starlings.

In their homelands of England and Eurasia, starlings fit in nicely, but here in the US they agressively outcompete and displace native birds. Eugene released starlings into New York City's Central Park on March 16, 1890 (a day that lives in avian infamy) and by the 1950s starlings had pushed its way across America to the west coast.



Way to go, Eugene.


You can read more about those pushy starlings in my book Passionate Slugs & Hollywood Frogs: An Uncommon Field Guide to Northwest Backyards.

7 comments:

  1. I think I'll go spit on his grave.

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  2. Patricia K. LichenMarch 12, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Eugene's or William's?

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  3. Hey Pat, I want to buy a copy of your book. Can you bring a copy Wednesday?

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  4. Umm -typo. How could they have spread across the US by 1950 if they weren't imported till 1980?

    Love your books! I wanna hear about slugs!! And tell me how butterflies taste.

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  5. Ooh, thanks, Roxie! I've fixed it--that's 1890, not 1980!

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  6. Umm -typo. How could they have spread across the US by 1950 if they weren't imported till 1980?

    Love your books! I wanna hear about slugs!! And tell me how butterflies taste.

    ReplyDelete