Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The English House Sparrow was imported to North America to protect trees from a caterpillar, which is the larva of the Geometrid Moth. Many disagreed with the wisdom of this move and even predicted they would become pests, as they fed on seeds and buds, not insects. Obviously, their words went unheeded. Even after initial efforts failed, reintroduction was not only renewed, a seemingly concerted effort ensured its start (probably not actually concerted, but it might as well have been.) Sparrows now thrive throughout most of the continent.

Eight pair were brought to the U.S. in 1850 for the purpose of ridding the shade trees of inch worms and in the spring of 1851 Nicholas Pike and other directors of the Brooklyn Institute released them in Brooklyn, New York. They did not survive. Nevertheless, destiny was on the side of the board and Pike arranged for the importation of one hundred more which were released in 1852 and 1853.

In 1854, Colonel Rhodes imported and released some of the birds in Portland, Maine and some in Quebec. In the next ten years, a few hundred more were imported and released in Quebec, and the areas around Portland, Boston and New York. In 1869, about one thousand were released in Philadelphia. They were released in San Francisco, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis and several other cities in the interior. Between 1874 and 1875 a few were released in Jackson and Owosso, Michigan and in 1881, they were introduced in Iowa.

Its wasn't long before the destruction of crops, the spread of disease and parasites, competition with song birds, its filthy habits and a population explosion revealed its introduction as a huge mistake.

Postcards and info provided by Paul Steffes, U.S.A.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

But I love sparrows ...

8:57 p.m.  

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