In 1890, a drug manufacturer named Eugene Schieffelin walked to Central Park and released 60 European starlings he had just received. As the story goes, Schieffelin was a big fan of Shakespeare, and wanted to bring all of the birds mentioned by the Bard to New York City. He added another 40 of the birds the year after, and now the United States has an estimated 200 million of these noisy, aggressive birds. Unfortunately his romantic idea didn’t pan out, as these invaders push out native species, disrupt airplanes, and cause millions in agricultural losses every year. The U.S. government has made an effort to eradicate the resilient pests, from poisons to spray detergents to broadcasting starling distress calls.
(Photo: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)