Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Curse You Shakespeare!

So, are you a big fan of starlings? Who is! And those swarmers are not even a native American species. Want to know how they got here? Sure you do! A German immigrant, one Mr. Eugene Schieffelin, was greatly enamored of both his new home, (the U S of A), and of Shakespeare. How best to honor both? Why, by introducing into the United States every species that is mentioned somewhere, anywhere, in Shakespeare's works. Unfortunately Henry IV mentions - you guessed it - starlings. In 1890 Mr. Schieffelen released 40 pairs in Central Park. Not satisfied with this, he then released 20 pairs the next spring. Now there are more than 200 million starlings in the United States. Sigh. Shakespeare should have been more careful.

Source: American History, June 2002 p. 42

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