European starlings the bird type featured in the image atop this entry (visiting my roof extension garden) were brought to NYC from England 131 years and one month ago yesterday (3-16-1890).
Eugene Schieffelin, an eccentric wealthy New Yorker loved Shakespeare and wanted to have all the birds referenced in his plays come to Central Park; so he brought them here.
I first learned of Eugene Schieffelin's antics in March of 2014 and wrote about the news-worthy topic on TLLG's Facebook Page. I also have written about it here on Blogger and on hometalk.
According to an article (published in 2000 and which I cited in my 3-16-2017 blog post), “…”European starlings began to breed almost immediately after being released in Central Park. The first recorded nest was under the eaves of the American Museum of Natural History, a bastion of American ornithology."
The article written by John Pancake goes on to say, "March 16 should be a time of quiet admiration for America's least loved bird. In truth, the starling is despised because it succeeded, because it expanded into every nook and cranny of North America."
Pancake explains, "The birds of Shakespeare were Schieffelin's passion... He imported bullfinches, chaffinches, nightingales and skylarks. They're gone. But more than 200,000,000 starlings pepper the skies of North America.
"The starling's knack for exploiting, adapting to and, in some cases, outwitting Homo sapiens is one key to the bird's ubiquity. The starling's range now stretches from the Arctic to New Zealand, and includes 30 percent of the Earth's land surface.”
They are frequent visitors in my garden and yesterday's chilly rainfall did not stop them from spending time here, as evidenced in the next three photographs.
I don’t mind their visits but I was criticized in a FB comment for bringing Schieffelin to people’s attention. The writer of the comment stated, “Anyone who says anything about starlings is not a true gardener. Starlings re a menace to gardens.”
The “remark” was made by a random person, but just as the rain does not deter starlings from visiting me, the comment did not deter me from enjoying their antics and including them in my book series, Words In Our Beak.
|MY BOOK SERIES|
The goal of these books is to open readers to a simple understanding of the winged world and their environment. Set in a rooftop urban garden (mine) in New York City, my story is told in the voice of Cam, a female cardinal, who visits it. Words In Our Beak is directed to children and adults who are curious about birds, and want to learn about them from a unique perspective.
Moreover, I’m in good company with my appreciation of these birrds, for the late poet, Mary Oliver, based a poem (“Starlings in Winter”) on these avizn creatures, which I’ll leave you with, dear reader, as a conclusion to this posting.
Here it is:
Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can't imagine
how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,
this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.
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