Many birds are known for their beautiful musical chirping, and humans can even use these distinct sounds to identify a specific bird species. There is one such bird which makes exquisite music but is also very dangerous. This bird is known as the European Starling. Starlings have black plumage and a gorgeous metallic sheen.They were first introduced to America in large numbers by a man named Eugene Schieffelin who was inspired to bring these birds to America because he was so impressed by William Shakespeare’s work. He wanted to release every single bird Shakespeare mentioned in his plays and poems to the United States. In 1890 Schieffelin released 60 European Starlings into Central Park in New York. He released 40 more in 1891. Once the birds were brought over they began multiplying and now there are over 200 million Starlings in the United States alone.
Although these birds are magnificent to look at, they are not as nice as they look. Starlings are notorious for kicking out other birds’ eggs and laying their own in the same nest. When male starlings encounter another birds nest, they might peck holes in the eggs, throw out nesting material, throw out an egg from the nest or even kill young birds. Female starlings are even known to lay their own eggs in another birds nest.
Starlings can cause damage and are one type of bird that acts as a pest.
A fungus called Histoplasma can grow beneath roosting starlings and can become airborne which can cause blindness or death. Starlings also cause millions of dollars in damage yearly. Starlings can devastate the crops of American farmers and can transmit diseases to humans and animals.
They cause problems at livestock facilities by contaminating feed and water with their droppings.
Starlings can even cause physical harm to humans. Starlings roost near airports and can get ingested into jet engines which can then cause the aircraft to crash. Starlings can consume whole fields of wheat and cultivating fruits such as grapes, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, figs and cherries.
People soon realized these birds are pests and in Connecticut people tied teddy bears to trees and fired rockets through tree branches to scare them away. The White House tried using speakers that played owl calls, people tried shooting, poisoning, repelling, trapping and frightening the birds but all to no avail.
As you can see, birds that were brought to America with good intentions presented unintended problems even Shakespeare would not appreciate. As with anything in life, there is no such thing as too much of a good thing. These avian beauties were not all they seemed. Despite efforts to curb their numbers Starlings are survivors and that is why there numbers are so large today.
By: Aiza Qureshi Age 11
The Art & Wilderness Institute Journalism Team are individuals who appreciate the world we live in and love to explore the myriad connections of all things in the world around us. We love to highlight the beautiful things we see in nature and to help others find ways to live with more connections to the outdoor world and the way it benefits us all.