Deepa, et al.,

Shakespeare would not be too surprised to see/hear birds during his plays, and it appears he would be quite pleased.  See below, "his works include references to more than 600 vain species" [I haven't verified that].

The starling in America has its prompt in  Henry IV, Part 1, Act 1, scene 3:


    Nay, I will; that's flat: 
    He said he would not ransom Mortimer; 
    Forbad my tongue to speak of Mortimer; 
    But I will find him when he lies asleep, 
    And in his ear I'll holla 'Mortimer!' 
    I'll have a starling shall be taught to speak 
    Nothing but 'Mortimer,' and give it him 
    To keep his anger still in motion. 

The excerpt below is from:

 Shakespeare to Blame for Introduction of European Starlings to U.S.

Brought here on a lark, starlings are now at every turn

By Steve Mirsky

The other starting point lies much deeper in the mists of time. In the late 1590s Shakespeare noted the mimicking ability of the starling while writing Henry IV, Part 1. Hotspur is contemplating driving King Henry nuts by having a starling repeat the name of Hotspur’s brother-in-law Mortimer, whom Henry refuses to ransom out of prisoner status. “Nay, I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak nothing but ‘Mortimer,’ ” Hotspur whines. (In theater and life, in-laws can often be counted on for dramatic conflict.) Whirrrr.

We move on to the late 19th century, when a group called the American Acclimatization Society was reportedly working on their pre-environmental-impact-statement project to introduce to the U.S. every bird mentioned in Shakespeare’s scripts. Clearly, the Bard abided birds—his works include references to more than 600 avian species. A Bronx resident, drug manufacturer Eugene Schieffelin (a street bearing his name isn’t far from my house) seems to be particularly responsible for the starlings’ arrival here. Well, his chickens have come home to roost. Pop. (The society also brought the house sparrow to our shores, a pair of which nest in a vent on the front of my other, human, next-door neighbor’s house.)

The Acclimatization Society released some hundred starlings in New York City’s Central Park in 1890 and 1891. By 1950 starlings could be found coast to coast, north past Hudson Bay and south into Mexico. Their North American numbers today top 200 million. As bird-watcher Jeffrey Rosen put it in a 2007 New York Times article, “It isn’t their fault that they treated an open continent much as we ourselves did.” Zzzt.

The full article is worth the time to read.

Bard's Birds (a bit of drivel)

What a price to pay, to hear The Bard
We have starling and sparrow in our yard.

Alas and alack!
Would that they'd send 'em back!

Edge Wade
Columbia, MO
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On May 22, 2013, at 12:17 AM, Deepa Mohan wrote:

> I went to hear some immortal words;
> But everywhere I saw the birds.
> I went to see Twelfth Night at Forest Park.
> But it had not yet become dark.
> In the trees of Shakespeare's Glen,
> I saw a little Carolina Wren.
> There was a pretty Northern Flicker,
> Taking pity upon this clicker.
> I looked up and saw two Mourning Doves
> Sitting...and watching,...on a wire above.
> A family of pretty Kildeer
> Came quite near, without too much fear.
> Robins and Starlings came to witness the sight
> Of a rehearsal of Twelfth Night.
> But the biggest fans of the famous Bard
> Seemed to be the waddling Mallards!
> Several of these ran up eagerly
> And, along with  the audience, settled to see
> A famous play...I'm sure its creator
> Never imagined birds in his theatre!
> I've put up some of the photos of the birds at the rehearsal of the play, at
> They are the commonest birds imaginable...but they utterly delighted me! Where else can I get Art and Nature together like this, except Forest Park?
> Cheers, Deepa.
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