OK…some birds have great appeal…and some birds…uggghhhh…don’t.

We ended 2009 with what I considered to be a very appealing bird (Short-eared Owl), and in a somewhat strange twist we’re going to start out this brand new decade with what is quite possibly the most hated bird in America. The Bird of the Month for January 2010 is Sturnus Vulgaris, better known as the European Starling. To many this bird ranks right up there with war, pestilence, disease, and Osama Bin Laden!

The European Starling is not a native bird to our country. They were “introduced” in New York City’s Central Park back in the early 1880’s (Only about 100 birds were released).

This bird adapted well in our country from its rather humble beginnings. By 1910 these birds had spread from New York and into New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. By the 1920’s they had made their way here to the Hoosier State. By the 1940’s they had reached California. And by the 1950’s they had made their way even to Alaska, and were also found in much of Mexico.

I recently read about a certain county here in the United States that declared war on the European Starling, and over a three year span killed 99.94 percent of the European Starlings in that particular county. But 00.06 percent of 9 million European Starlings left alive, proved to be way too many European Starlings left alive, and within just a few years they had recovered to their previous numbers. (If not impressed with this starlings “adaptability”…at least be impressed with its ability of “begetting”.)

We can even read that the city of Indianapolis is waging a war on European Starlings downtown. City experts are using, “…pyrotechnics, lasers, and recorded distress calls to rid downtown of these pests.” (As an ex-soldier, that really does sound like war to me. It will be interesting to see who raises the white flag of surrender………first.)

There’s always danger in “introducing” species, of any type, into areas outside of their natural range. Many times introduced species have the ability to spread rapidly, (As the European Starling has done), and prove quite harmful to native wildlife.

When I consider the European Starling, this “introduced” bird has indeed caused a certain amount of “damage” to North American ecosystems. But should we hate this bird? I don’t think so, because they’re just doing what birds do. We should however recognize the harm that can be wrought when man himself steps-in to rearrange nature. A step that can be fraught with unseen dangers, and many times……hated birds.


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