Eugene Schieffelin

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]

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

Early life

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

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

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

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]


  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". 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. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. p. 1. ISBN 0-8014-9751-5.
  10. ^ "Edenwald Playground Highlights". 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. ^ David Ian Withers. "Origins of the European Starling in the United States". Archived from the original on 2001-07-01.
  13. ^ "European Starling" Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 2 July 2011
  14. ^ O'Brien, Jane (24 April 2014). "Shakespeare's birds cause US trouble" – via
  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

Acclimatisation society

Acclimatisation societies were voluntary associations in the 19th and 20th centuries that encouraged the introduction of non-native species in various places around the world with the hope of their acclimatisation and adaptation. The motivation at the time was a sense that introducing these species of plants and animals would enrich the flora and fauna of a region. These societies were born during a period of colonialism when Europeans began to settle in unfamiliar environments, and the movement sought to establish familiar plants and animals (mainly from Europe) in new areas while also bringing exotic and useful foreign plants and animals into the European centres. Today it is widely understood that introducing species can be harmful to native species and their ecosystems; for example, in Australia plants were harmed by rabbits' overgrazing; in North America house sparrows displace and kill native birds; and around the world, salamander populations are today threatened by introduced fungal infections. At the time of acclimatisation societies, however, this was insufficiently understood.

A definition of acclimatisation was attempted by Alfred Russel Wallace in his entry in the 11th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1911). Here Wallace tried to differentiate the idea from other terms like domestication and naturalization. He noted that a domesticated animal could live in environments controlled by humans. Naturalization, he suggested included the process of acclimatization which involved "gradual adjustment". The idea, at least in France, was associated with Lamarckism and Wallace noted that there were some like Charles Darwin who denied the possibility of forcing individual animals to adjust. Wallace however pointed out that there was the possibility that there were variations among individuals and that some could have the ability to adapt to new environments.

American Acclimatization Society

The American Acclimatization Society was a group founded in New York City in 1871 dedicated to introducing European flora and fauna into North America for both economic and cultural reasons. The group's charter explained its goal was to introduce "such foreign varieties of the animal and vegetable kingdom as may be useful or interesting." The society's efforts had a powerful impact on the natural history of North America, particularly due to its success in introducing invasive bird species.

Avian range expansion

Avian range expansion describes how birds expand their habitat. Because of the activities of birdwatchers, these range expansions are well documented.

Throughout the last century a number of birds have expanded their range. Birds that were once thought to be only located on the West Coast of have moved eastward all the way to the East Coast, an example would be the Brewer's blackbird. Since the 1950s the Brewer's blackbird, a relative of the red-winged blackbird, has been moving eastward first from the West Coast of Oregon and California to the Great Lakes Region and then towards the East Coast, with the range expanding from Coast to Coast according to the Audubon's 2005 Christmas Bird Count. The Inca dove first arrived as a native of Mexico and has slowly expanded Northward into Kansas and Arkansas. Great tailed grackles have also moved in similar fashion northward.

Another region with documented range expansions is South Africa, where a number of birds have expanded westwards into the Western Cape province from other provinces due to habitat modification by humans and introductions. Examples of these include the Helmeted Guineafowl (introduced) and the Hadeda Ibis (natural expansion).

Range expansion may be explained by several different reasons.

Central Park

Central Park is an urban park in Manhattan, New York City. It is located between the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, roughly bounded by Fifth Avenue on the east, Central Park West (Eighth Avenue) on the west, Central Park South (59th Street) on the south, and Central Park North (110th Street) on the north. Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States, with an estimated 37–38 million visitors annually, and one of the most filmed locations in the world. In terms of area, Central Park is the fifth largest park in New York City, covering 843 acres (341 ha).

Central Park was first approved in 1853 as a 778-acre (315 ha) park. In 1857, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and architect/landscape designer Calvert Vaux won a design competition to construct the park with a plan they titled the "Greensward Plan". Construction began the same year, and the park's first areas were opened to the public in late 1858. Additional land at the northern end of Central Park was purchased in 1859, and the park was completed in 1876. After a period of decline in the early 20th century, New York City parks commissioner Robert Moses started a program to clean up Central Park. Another decline in the late 20th century spurred the creation of the Central Park Conservancy in 1980, which refurbished many parts of the park during the 1980s and 1990s.

Main attractions of the park include the Ramble and Lake; several amusement attractions including Wollman Rink, Central Park Carousel, and the Central Park Zoo; Sheep Meadow; the Central Park Mall; Bethesda Terrace; the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir; and the Delacorte Theater that hosts Shakespeare in the Park programs in the summertime. The park also has sports facilities, including the North Meadow Recreation Center, basketball courts, baseball fields, and soccer fields.

Central Park was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1963 and as a New York City scenic landmark in 1974. The park is owned by New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks), but has been managed by the Central Park Conservancy since 1998, under contract with the municipal government in a public-private partnership. The Conservancy, a non-profit organization, contributes 75 percent of Central Park's $65 million annual budget and is responsible for all basic care of the park.

Common starling

The common starling (Sturnus vulgaris), also known as the European starling, or in the British Isles just the starling, is a medium-sized passerine bird in the starling family, Sturnidae. It is about 20 cm (8 in) long and has glossy black plumage with a metallic sheen, which is speckled with white at some times of year. The legs are pink and the bill is black in winter and yellow in summer; young birds have browner plumage than the adults. It is a noisy bird, especially in communal roosts and other gregarious situations, with an unmusical but varied song. Its gift for mimicry has been noted in literature including the Mabinogion and the works of Pliny the Elder and William Shakespeare.

The common starling has about a dozen subspecies breeding in open habitats across its native range in temperate Europe and western Asia, and it has been introduced to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United States, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, the Falkland Islands, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, South Africa and Fiji. This bird is resident in southern and western Europe and southwestern Asia, while northeastern populations migrate south and west in winter within the breeding range and also further south to Iberia and North Africa. The common starling builds an untidy nest in a natural or artificial cavity in which four or five glossy, pale blue eggs are laid. These take two weeks to hatch and the young remain in the nest for another three weeks. There are normally one or two breeding attempts each year. This species is omnivorous, taking a wide range of invertebrates, as well as seeds and fruit. It is hunted by various mammals and birds of prey, and is host to a range of external and internal parasites.

Large flocks typical of this species can be beneficial to agriculture by controlling invertebrate pests; however, starlings can also be pests themselves when they feed on fruit and sprouting crops. Common starlings may also be a nuisance through the noise and mess caused by their large urban roosts. Introduced populations in particular have been subjected to a range of controls, including culling, but these have had limited success except in preventing the colonisation of Western Australia.

The species has declined in numbers in parts of northern and western Europe since the 1980s due to fewer grassland invertebrates being available as food for growing chicks. Despite this, its huge global population is not thought to be declining significantly, so the common starling is classified as being of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Introduced species

An introduced species, alien species, exotic species, foreign species, non-indigenous species, or non-native species is a species living outside its native distributional range, but which has arrived there by human activity, either deliberate or accidental. Non-native species can have various effects on the local ecosystem. Introduced species that become established and spread beyond the place of introduction are called invasive species.

The impact of introduced species is highly variable. Some have a negative effect on a local ecosystem, while other introduced species may have no negative effect or only minor impact. Some species have been introduced intentionally to combat pests. They are called biocontrols and may be regarded as beneficial as an alternative to pesticides in agriculture for example. In some instances the potential for being beneficial or detrimental in the long run remains unknown.The effects of introduced species on natural environments have gained much scrutiny from scientists, governments, farmers, and others.

Maunsell Crosby

Maunsell Schieffelin Crosby (February 14, 1887 - 1931) was an ornithologist, writer, and farmer. Crosby was the son of Ernest Howard Crosby, a noted author and reformer who served in the seat in the New York State Legislature formerly held by Theodore Roosevelt. Crosby was also a nephew of Eugene Schieffelin, the bird enthusiast who introduced the starling to the U.S. The 1933 book The Birds of Dutchess County by Ludlow Griscom based much of its information on records compiled by Crosby.

Mysteries at the Monument

Mysteries at the Monument (formerly Monumental Mysteries) is an American reality television series currently airing on the Travel Channel and is hosted by Don Wildman. The show uncovers stories of history and unsolved mysteries behind America's national monuments. The series premiered on May 9, 2013, at 9:00 p.m. EST. The second season aired on June 13, 2014, at 9:00 p.m. EST. For Season 3, which premiered July 3, 2015, the series was renamed.


Schieffelin may refer to:

Samuel Schieffelin (1811–1900), an American author of religious tracts.

Bradhurst Schieffelin (1824–1909), an American political activist during the Civil War, who later became a member of the People's Party

Eugene Schieffelin (1827–1906), responsible for introducing the starling (Sturnus vulgaris) to North America

Ed Schieffelin (1847–1897), an Indian scout and prospector who discovered silver in the Arizona Territory, which led to the founding of Tombstone, Arizona.

Bambi Schieffelin, a linguistic anthropologist at New York University in the department of Anthropology


Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds in the family Sturnidae. The name "Sturnidae" comes from the Latin word for starling, sturnus. Many Asian species, particularly the larger ones, are called mynas, and many African species are known as glossy starlings because of their iridescent plumage. Starlings are native to Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as northern Australia and the islands of the tropical Pacific. Several European and Asian species have been introduced to these areas as well as North America, Hawaii and New Zealand, where they generally compete for habitats with native birds and are considered to be invasive species. The starling species familiar to most people in Europe and North America is the common starling, and throughout much of Asia and the Pacific, the common myna is indeed common.

Starlings have strong feet, their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. Several species live around human habitation and are effectively omnivores. Many species search for prey such as grubs by "open-bill probing", that is, forcefully opening the bill after inserting it into a crevice, thus expanding the hole and exposing the prey; this behaviour is referred to by the German verb zirkeln (pronounced [ˈtsɪɐ̯kl̩n]).Plumage of many species is typically dark with a metallic sheen. Most species nest in holes and lay blue or white eggs.

Starlings have diverse and complex vocalizations and have been known to embed sounds from their surroundings into their own calls, including car alarms and human speech patterns. The birds can recognize particular individuals by their calls and are the subject of research into the evolution of human language.

Valentine Hall Jr.

Valentine Gill Hall Jr. (March 27, 1834 – July 17, 1880) was an American socialite, banker, and merchant who was the maternal grandfather of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.


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