when was the european starling introduced to the u s

Eugene Schieffelin was the man who brought the European starling to the United States. In 1890, he released 60 of these birds into Central Park in New York City. This was his attempt to introduce all the birds mentioned in William Shakespeare’s works to North America.

The starlings were successful in thriving and spreading across the US. They’re known for their adaptability and can survive in many habitats, from cities to farms. Nowadays, they are one of the most abundant bird species in North America.

This introduction has both positive and negative effects on the environment. On the plus side, they act as pest controllers by eating insects and agricultural pests, and also help with seed dispersal and nutrient cycling.

On the other hand, they can harm native bird populations. Starlings compete with other birds for nests, often pushing out species such as bluebirds and woodpeckers. Their aggressive behavior towards other birds disrupts the ecosystem.

To manage the population of European starlings, certain techniques can be used. For instance, placing nest boxes for native cavity-nesting birds in safe areas away from starlings. Additionally, creating habitat corridors and preserving natural areas can help promote diverse bird species and reduce competition.

Background on the European Starling species

The European Starling, also known as the Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. Its introduction to the US has an interesting past.

In its home range, the Starling flew in large flocks and nested in tree cavities or buildings. But, a group of Shakespeare fans from New York City wanted to introduce every bird mentioned in his work to North America. So, they released 60 Starlings in Central Park in 1890.

These birds survived and multiplied quickly, due to their ability to adapt and eat various food sources including insects, fruits, seeds and garbage. This growth caused some to think of it as a success.

However, others are concerned. The Starling competes with native birds for nesting sites and food. They also eat crops, causing problems for farmers. People have tried to control their population by trapping or using chemical repellents.

This serves as a reminder of the unexpected results of human interference. It’s important to think carefully before introducing non-native species into habitats. We need to understand our impact on nature, to protect biodiversity and maintain ecological balance.

History of the European Starling’s introduction to the U.S.

Eugene Schieffelin, an eccentric fan of Shakespeare, released around a hundred European Starlings in Central Park, New York City. This marked the start of their successful colonization of North America.

Their iridescent feathers and melodious songs made them popular among Americans. Unfortunately, their rapid expansion and population growth caused conflict. They competed with native birds for nesting sites and food.

Starlings are also considered pests due to their fondness for fruits in orchards and fields. They are a problem for other bird species already dealing with habitat loss.

Schieffelin’s eccentricity was not the only reason for introducing starlings. It was also an attempt to bring all birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works to North America.

Now, these birds are estimated to number over 200 million. Conservation efforts aim to reduce their impact on native bird populations and allow them to coexist peacefully.

This introduction is part of a larger phenomenon called biological invasions or introduced species. These can have serious consequences for ecosystems and biodiversity worldwide.

Impact of the European Starling on native bird populations

The European Starling’s appearance in the U.S has had a huge influence on native birds. This intruder has caused lots of difficulties and problems for the environment, which has caused harmful outcomes for various bird types.

  • Fighting for resources: The European Starling competes strongly with native birds for their places to lay eggs and food. This opposition can lead to less successful reproduction and population reductions among natural bird species.
  • Altering the habitat: Starlings adjust habitats, like moving local birds from their nesting holes or changing plants through their foraging actions. These changes can damage the endurance and breeding success of native bird types.
  • Uprooting cavity-nesting birds: Because of their capability to compete with other cavity-nesting birds, such as woodpeckers or swallows, starlings often take over nests that are usually used by these local species. This displacement adds to population reductions among native birds.
  • Illness transmission: European Starlings can carry diseases that are bad for local birds. The close contact between starlings and other avian species generates chances for contagion transmission, which can have severe results on fragile populations.
  • Disturbing behaviour: The arrival of starlings disturbs established avian behaviour, like protecting a territory or courtship displays. This interference can result in reduced mating success and changed social dynamics within native bird populations.

Also worth noting is that the European Starling’s introduction was intended by people who wanted to bring all birds from William Shakespeare’s plays to North America. However, this kind intention had unanticipated effects as the starling population flourished at an alarming rate with damaging effects on native bird populations.

The Audubon Society did a study that discovered that the decline of Eastern Bluebird populations in certain areas can be attributed to competition and displacement by starlings.

Current distribution and population of European Starlings in the U.S.

The European Starling is now found in many places across the U.S.! Its population has grown a lot over the years. Have a look at the table below to see the distribution and estimated population of European Starlings in each state.

State Distribution Estimated Population
Alabama Throughout state 5 million
Alaska South-central region 500,000
Arizona Northern part of state 4 million
Arkansas Statewide 3.5 million

This is just a small part of the total number of them across the nation. European Starlings are clever. They can imitate other birds’ calls, which helps them live in different environments.

Here’s a fun story about the European Starlings. In New York City during the 1890s, someone wanted to bring all the birds from Shakespeare’s works to America. So, they released around one hundred European Starlings into Central Park. This led to an unexpected growth in their population! Today, these birds are everywhere in the US.

Efforts to control the European Starling population

To discourage starling nesting, habitat modification strategies can be implemented. Scare tactics such as predator decoys and noisemakers can also be used to stop starlings from roosting in specified areas.

Targeted traps and relocations may be employed to remove starlings from delicate habitats. Biocontrol methods, like introducing natural predators or pathogens which target starlings, can also be explored.

Public awareness and education about the harms of starlings and responsible bird feeding practices should be promoted.

Research has revealed that avian dispersal systems that make distress calls are successful in keeping starlings away from farms.

For successful long-term starling control, it is important to consistently monitor and manage these interventions.


Analysis of the introduction of the European starling to the US reveals a huge impact on the nation’s ecosystems and bird populations. It was done deliberately in the 19th century and its effects are still felt.

Sturnus Vulgaris, commonly known as the European starling, was brought to North America by people trying to bring all birds mentioned in William Shakespeare’s works. In 1890, around 100 were released in Central Park, NYC. They spread fast, thanks to their adaptability and versatility.

The European starling is a master of survival. It can live in various habitats, from cities to forests, and its omnivorous diet lets it eat a wide range of food sources. This has led to rapid population growth and competition with native birds for resources.

The presence of European starlings has had negative consequences. They displace other cavity-nesting birds like bluebirds and woodpeckers, leading to their population declines. Also, they are known carriers of diseases harmful to humans and animals, like avian influenza and salmonella.

For this reason, close monitoring of the European starling population is necessary. Strategies must be implemented to reduce their impact on native wildlife. By understanding their behavior and finding management approaches, we can strive to maintain a balanced ecosystem and minimize the ecological consequences of their introduction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When was the European starling introduced to the U.S.?

A: The European starling was introduced to the U.S. in 1890.

Q: Who introduced the European starling to the U.S.?

A: The European starling was introduced to the U.S. by the American Acclimatization Society.

Q: Why was the European starling introduced to the U.S.?

A: The European starling was brought to the U.S. by the American Acclimatization Society in an attempt to establish all bird species mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare.

Q: What impact did the European starling have on native bird populations?

A: The European starling has had a significant impact on native bird populations, competing with native species for nesting sites and food resources.

Q: Where in the U.S. did the European starling first establish itself?

A: The European starling first established itself in New York City’s Central Park.

Q: Why did the European starling population rapidly expand in the U.S.?

A: The European starling population rapidly expanded in the U.S. due to its adaptability, aggressive behavior, and ability to exploit various habitats and food sources.

Julian Goldie - Owner of ChiperBirds.com

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.