Letter to the Editor

Your view: The Bard's birds

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I found a bit of humor in the Feb. 9 SpeakOut, "Root of problem." The speaker blamed the "greedy farmers and land developers" for the bird-roosting problems in our region, when in fact it is really all Shakespeare's fault. Seems that the European Starling was introduced to the United States from England in 1891 by a New Yorker who wanted everyone to know the birds mentioned in the Bard's works.

He released 100 starlings in Central Park and that population has grown to over 200 million, according to the Cornell lab of Ornithology. Most of these roosting birds here are starlings, although there are some other species mixed in with them. Problem is, the starling had already adapted to its current lifestyle when it was brought to the U.S. It learned to forage and feed in the pastures and fields in the daytime and move into the warmer urban areas to roost at night in Europe, and as it turned out, a behavior that was well suited for North America.

So caller, blame your problems on literature and leave the "greedy" farmers alone.

Lynn N. Bock,

New Madrid