Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Damn You William Shakespeare

I'm not mad at the Bard, not really, but today I am upset with a devotee of William Shakespeare, Eugene Schieffelin. I came across several smashed robin eggs, and I lamented on the foolishness of man meddling with nature.

Eugene Schieffelin was responsible for introducing the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) to North America. In 1890, he released 60 starlings into New York City’s Central Park. He did the same with another 40 birds in 1891. Schieffelin wanted to introduce all the birds mentioned in the plays of William Shakespeare to North America.

European starlings were not native to North America. Schieffelin imported the starlings from England. Scientists estimate that descendants from those two original released flocks now number at more than 200 million residing in the United States. The European Starling is now considered an invasive species.

Starlings fiercely defend their nest site, and are usually successful at evicting many other species of birds, including woodpeckers, Wood Ducks, Tree Swallows, Bluebirds, Purple Martins and Great Crested Flycatchers, Screech Owls and sometimes Kestrels. In Purple Martin houses, they may remove all the eggs or young of a whole colony and build one nest.

The smashed robin eggs were the result of a pair of nesting starlings rooting out a pair of robin parents. But have you put the love juice from the flower on the eyes of that Athenian, as I ... much worse, because I'm afraid you've given me good reason to curse you....

And since the quarrel
Will bear no color for the thing he is,
Fashion it thus: that what he is, augmented,
Would run to these and these extremities;
And therefore think him as a serpent's egg,
Which, hatch'd, would as his kind grow mischievous,
And kill him in the shell

Julius Caesar Act 2, scene 1, 28–34

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