Field of Science

Alien Invasions - Starlings

Starlings are not a favorite bird. They nest in my covered gutters thereby defeating the purpose of having them covered. At times they overwhelm our bird feeders' regular native visitors. And then there is another strange behavior that has yet to be explained to me, but it's truly vexing. Just as their chicks are getting ready to leave the nest, the adults will pluck bits of vegetation. No idea why, but they aren't feeding it to their offspring because they leave the plucked bits behind. They prefer small tender plants sort of out in the open. This happens at just about this time of year, and you've just set out pepper and tomato plants, and have new seedlings appearing in your garden. Nip, nip, pluck, pluck, you HAD new seedlings and recently transplanted plants in your garden. Now you got little green leafless sticks. Pass the birdshot please. What's historically interesting about this is knowing who to blame - Eugene Scheiffelin. In 1890 he released 60 starlings into New York City's Central Park. The next year he released another 40. He had some romantic notion about having all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays introduced to New York City. Of course by 1928 starlings had reached the Mississippi River so fast did their population grow. The story is familiar to biologists who know that many introduced species can have population explosions because nothing checks their growth. Here's the simple rule for safely introducing alien species - DON'T! It gives you something to think about when you replace your pepper plants.

1 comment:

greggo said...

I hat those @%&*#**'s.