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European Starling Nightmare

From a hundred pairs in Central Park .... to a nightmare!

You can find European Starlings in huge flocks from coast to coast, and from Northern Canada deep into Mexico. Yet not one of these iridescent-black, yellow-billed starlings is native to the Americas. One hundred starlings were released in Central Park in New York City in 1890. From that small, misinformed beginning, starlings have now multiplied into more than 200 million birds across the country.

Full Transcript



European Starling - A Nightmare?

Written by Frances Wood

This is BirdNote! [flock of starlings]

Back in 1890, a man named Eugene Schieffelin had a dream. A resident of New York City, he wanted to be able to hear all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. [“The king forbade my tongue to speak of Mortimer. But I will find him when he is asleep, and in his ear I’ll holler ‘Mortimer!’…] 

So he brought about 100 starlings from Europe and released them into Central Park. [talking “Nay I’ll have a starling taught to speak nothing but Mortimer, and give it to him to keep his anger still in motion.”] 

Today, those first 100 starlings have multiplied into more than 200 million birds. From coast to coast, from Northern Canada deep into Mexico, you’ll find ‘em. Yet not one of these iridescent-black, yellow-billed birds is native to the Americas.

It was the starling’s ability to mimic human speech that prompted Shakespeare to mention it in his play Henry IV. 

And, although Eugene Schieffelin probably dreamt of this serenade…[one starling calling]

That dream has multiplied to this ...[loud flock of starlings]

From BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.


Call of single European Starling provided by: The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Sound recordist: G.A. Keller.
Sounds of European Starling flock provided by: Martyn Stewart at
Ambient track provided by Kessler Productions.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to   March 2015   Narrator: Frank Corrado

ID # 031605EUSTKPLU  EUST-01-FCr

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