Eugene Schieffelin (29 January 1827, New York, N.Y. — 15 August 1906, Newport, Rhode Island) belonged to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and the New York Zoological Society. He was responsible for introducing the starling (Sturnus vulgaris) to North America.
In 1890, he released 60 starlings into New York City’s Central Park. He did the same with another 40 birds in 1891. Schieffelin wanted to introduce all the birds mentioned in the plays of William Shakespeare to North America. He may have also been trying to control the same pests that had been annoying him thirty years earlier, when he sponsored the introduction of the House Sparrow to North America.
European Starlings were not native to North America. Schieffelin imported the starlings from England. Scientists estimate that descendants from those two original released flocks now number at more than 200 million residing in the United States.
Reasons for release
Schieffelin belonged to the American Acclimatization Society, a group that aimed to help exchange plants and animals from one part of the world to another. In the 19th century, such acclimatization societies were fashionable and supported by the scientific knowledge and beliefs of that era, as the effect that non-native species could have on the local ecosystem was not yet known.
- Complete American Armoury and Blue Book, 1907 ed., p. 175.
- "Eugene Schieffelin Dead," The New York Times, Aug. 16, 1906, p. 7.
- Gup, Ted."100 Years of the Starling". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- Edward Tenner, Why Things Bite Back, pp. 152-155, (New York: Vintage Books, 1997).
- "European Starling" Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 2 July 2011
- "AMERICAN ACCLIMATIZATION SOCIETY." The New York Times, Nov. 15, 1877, p. 2.
- "Invasive Species: Animals" National Invasive Species Information Center. Retrieved 2 July 2011
- Park and the People, A History of Central Park By Roy Rosenzweig, Elizabeth Blackmar (See hyperlinks referring to Schieffelin on page 1 of the book.)
- New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Edenwald Playground
- GreenMuseum.org, “I'll Have a Starling” installation
- Tennessee State Department of Environment and Conservation, Origins of the European Starling in the United States, By David Ian Withers
- Stanford University, Birds of Stanford - Essays, Avian Invaders, by Paul R. Ehrlich, David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye
- Newsday.com, Starlings in Flight Not Bard's Delight, By Julie Claire Diop, June 8, 2003