This rather smart bird enjoying the autumn sunshine
is an introduced European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), on the
railings outside the National Air & Space Museum in Washington
Starlings are now quite common birds in the
eastern US. Also present are large numbers of European House Sparrows
(Passer vulgaris) which have been extremely successful in America - to
the great detriment of local birdlife.
Sparrows in particular are very aggressive
here and have pushed local birds out of their natural habitat - a common
experience when introducing alien species the world over. Both starlings and
sparrows are in sharp decline in the UK, but ironically, not here.
And the reason they are here, in part at least, is
a quite bizarre mid-nineteenth century plan to introduce to the US every
species of plant and animal mentioned in Shakespeare- God only knows why. Almost
unbelievable, but true. Some like sparrows and starlings have prospered and
become pests, others have not.