Eugene Schieffelin

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Eugene Schieffelin
Born(1827-01-29)January 29, 1827
DiedAugust 15, 1906(1906-08-15) (aged 79)
Spouse(s)Catherine Tonnelé Hall
Parent(s)Henry Hamilton Schieffelin
Maria Theresa Bradhurst Schieffelin
RelativesSamuel Schieffelin (brother)
Bradhurst Schieffelin (brother)

Eugene Schieffelin (January 29, 1827 — August 15, 1906)[1] 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.[2]

Early life[edit]

Schieffelin was born in New York City on January 29, 1827.[3] He was the seventh son of Henry Hamilton Schieffelin (1783–1865) and Maria Theresa (née Bradhurst) Schieffelin (1786–1872).[4] 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.[5] Among his siblings was author Samuel Schieffelin,[6] and Bradhurst Schieffelin, a supporter the People's Party.[7] The Schieffelin family was one of the oldest families in Manhattan.[8]

Starling release[edit]

In 1890, he released 60 starlings into New York City’s Central Park.[9][10] 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.[2] 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.[11]

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[12] 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.[13] The starlings have also had negative impact on the US economy and ecosystem [14]

His attempts to introduce bullfinches, chaffinches, nightingales, and skylarks were not successful.

Reasons for release[edit]

Schieffelin belonged to the American Acclimatization Society,[15] 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.

European starlings are now considered an invasive species in the United States.[16]

Personal life[edit]

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.[17]

Schieffelin died at the Hartshorn villa in Newport, Rhode Island on August 15, 1906.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "EUGENE SCHIEFFELIN DEAD. Succumbs to Paralysis at Newport After an Illness of Three Weeks" (PDF). The New York Times. August 16, 1906. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b Gup, Ted (1 September 1990). "100 Years of the Starling". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  3. ^ Matthews, John (1907). Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. Crest Publishing Company. p. 175. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  4. ^ Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York (1905). The Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York: History, Customs, Record of Events, Constitution, Certain Genealogies, and Other Matters of Interest. V. 1-. p. 142. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Hamilton, Henry, d. 1796. Henry Hamilton papers: Guide". oasis.lib.harvard.edu. Harvard University. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Samuel Bradhurst Schieffelin Dead". The New York Times. September 14, 1900. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  7. ^ Wilson & Fiske 1900.
  8. ^ Reynolds, Cuyler (1914). Genealogical and Family History of Southern New York and the Hudson River Valley: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Building of a Nation. Lewis Historical Publishing Company. p. 1299. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  9. ^ Rosenzweig, Roy; Blackmar, Elizabeth (1992). The Park and the People: A History of Central Park. Cornell University Press. p. 1. ISBN 9780801497513. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  10. ^ "Edenwald Playground Highlights". www.nycgovparks.org. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  11. ^ Edward Tenner, Why Things Bite Back, pp. 152-155, (New York: Vintage Books, 1997).
  12. ^ {{cite web |url=http://www.state.tn.us/environment/tn_consv/archive/starlings.htm
  13. ^ "European Starling" Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 2 July 2011
  14. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27055030
  15. ^ "AMERICAN ACCLIMATIZATION SOCIETY." The New York Times, Nov. 15, 1877, p. 2.
  16. ^ "Invasive Species: Animals" National Invasive Species Information Center. Retrieved 2 July 2011
  17. ^ Owen, Samuel (1847). The New-York Legal Observer. Samuel Owen. p. 264. Retrieved 14 June 2018.

External links[edit]