Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Swarming Starlings

Who wants some history?

OK, my co-worker with the bruised tail-bone, I know how you love my history lessons!

Do you know why we have
starlings in the United States?

They occur naturally only in Europe, Africa, and Asia but were introduced here in the 1890's. A man named Eugene Schieffelin released 80 starlings in Central Park in 1890 and 40 more birds in 1891. He belonged to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and the New York Zoological Society.

Schieffelin also was part of a group called the Acclimation Society of North America. Their misguided goal was to share plants and animals with all parts of the world. From this idea, Sheiffelin set his own agenda: he was determined to introduce
every bird mentioned in the plays of Shakespeare to the United States.

Because Shakespeare mentioned the starling in King Henry IV Part 1, he brought some of the birds over from England. From that small batch released in New York City, their numbers have grown to over 200 million. Their spread have come at the expense of native birds such as the bluebird and woodpeckers. Luckily, Schieffelin's attempts to bring bullfinches, chaffinches, nightingales, and skylarks to this country were not successful.

Starlings are strong fliers and are often seen in huge flocks. See the interesting videos below:

Finally, starlings are also known for the ability to mimic the sounds around them, from human voices to car alarms. If you can stick with the following video until the end, you'll be rewarded with a little bit of humor.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey that looks like the bird I scraped off the sidewalk not so long ago.. glad your bird lover dude wasn't reading the Book of Genesis or Origin of Species...