Eugene Schieffelin

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Eugene Schieffelin (29 January 1827, New York, N.Y.[1] — 15 August 1906, Newport, Rhode Island[2]) 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.[3]

Starlings are released[edit]

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.[3] He may have also been trying to spread the same pests that had been annoying him thirty years earlier so his place wouldn't be the only one that was bothered, when he sponsored the introduction of the house sparrow to North America.[4]

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.[5] The starlings have also had negative impact on the US economy and ecosystem [6]

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

Reasons for release[edit]

Schieffelin belonged to the American Acclimatization Society,[7] 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.[8]


  1. ^ Complete American Armoury and Blue Book, 1907 ed., p. 175.
  2. ^ "Eugene Schieffelin Dead," The New York Times, Aug. 16, 1906, p. 7.
  3. ^ a b Gup, Ted."100 Years of the Starling". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  4. ^ Edward Tenner, Why Things Bite Back, pp. 152-155, (New York: Vintage Books, 1997).
  5. ^ "European Starling" Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 2 July 2011
  6. ^
  7. ^ "AMERICAN ACCLIMATIZATION SOCIETY." The New York Times, Nov. 15, 1877, p. 2.
  8. ^ "Invasive Species: Animals" National Invasive Species Information Center. Retrieved 2 July 2011

External links[edit]