|Died||August 15, 1906 (aged 79)|
Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Catherine Tonnelé Hall|
|Parent(s)||Henry Hamilton Schieffelin|
Maria Theresa Bradhurst Schieffelin
|Relatives||Samuel Schieffelin (brother)|
Bradhurst Schieffelin (brother)
Eugene Schieffelin (January 29, 1827 – August 15, 1906) was an American amateur ornithologist who belonged to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and the New York Zoological Society. He was responsible for introducing the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) to North America.
Schieffelin was born in New York City on January 29, 1827. He was the seventh son of Henry Hamilton Schieffelin (1783–1865) and Maria Theresa (née Bradhurst) Schieffelin (1786–1872). His father, a prominent lawyer, was named in honor of Governor Henry Hamilton for whom his grandfather Jacob Schieffelin served as secretary for during the American Revolutionary War. Among his siblings was author Samuel Schieffelin, and Bradhurst Schieffelin, a supporter of the People's Party. The Schieffelin family was one of the oldest families in Manhattan.
In 1890, he released 60 starlings into New York City’s Central Park. He did the same with another 40 birds in 1891. According to an oft-repeated story, which apparently did not emerge until the 1940s, Schieffelin supposedly introduced starlings as part of a project to bring to the United States all the birds mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare. Some historians have cast doubt on this story. 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.
The starlings' wildly successful spread has come at the expense of many native birds that compete with the starling for nest holes in trees. The starlings have also had negative impact on the US economy and ecosystem.
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.
Schieffelin was married to Catherine Tonnelé Hall (d. 1910). Catherine was a daughter of Valentine Gill Hall, an Irish immigrant, and Susan (née Tonnelé) Hall and the sister of Valentine Hall Jr., a banker and merchant who was the grandfather of Eleanor Roosevelt. Catherine's uncle was John Tonnelé Jr., the farmer and politician who was a member of the New Jersey State Legislature.
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- Wilson & Fiske 1900. sfn error: no target: CITEREFWilsonFiske1900 (help)
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- Edward Tenner, Why Things Bite Back, pp. 152-155, (New York: Vintage Books, 1997).
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- "European Starling" Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 2 July 2011
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- "Invasive Species: European Starling" National Invasive Species Information Center. Retrieved 2 July 2011
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- 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.
- Eugene Schieffelin at Find a Grave