Most people credit a strange New Yorker naMed Eugene Schieffelin (1826-1906) for introducing Starlings and English Sparrows to the North American continent, where they have multiplied beyond comprehension and become urban pests. Schieffelin, himself an ornithologist, had no idea about the damage he had done.

Eugene Schieffelin

Contemporaries said that he had a thing about William Shakespeare's plays, and resolved to bring all the birds from Shakespeare's plays to America. The aggressive and ugly Starlings and Sparrows have crowded out all the native species. State and local governments have tried to reduce their populations, but they keep coming back.


In 1893, the Czech composer Antonin Dvořák visited Spillville, Iowa, to compose his String Quartet in F-major. He listened with delight to Scarlet Tanagers sing outside his window, and based the Scherzo movement on it. Reporters from National Public Radio returned to Spillville in 1993 to commemorate the event, but heard only the relentless chirping of sparrows and the squawking of Starlings. Such a shame.

                                                       Antonin Dvořák


Ornithologists know a few brutal facts about the natural World that most people don't know, or prefer not to think about: The day-to-day life in the Wild is all about turf. The hyperactive, aggressive Sparrow steals nesting-sites from smaller birds like Bluebirds, Warblers, and Vireos. The beautiful but weaker native species has no place to lay their eggs. You can see them waiting around in vain for a site, until the end of the breeding season.