22 April 2012
Dear Citizens of Hamilton,
It is with great pleasure that I, the eminently knowledgeable Professor William Starling, have the distinct opportunity of informing you of my recent arrival in your fair city. I have been fortunate to secure handsome lodgings in the city centre and it is my intention over the coming months to initiate and engage in various forms of inter-species dialogue, to share my extensive knowledge of (and ongoing research on) adaptation to changing environments, the phenomenon of “invasive species” and habitat loss. It is my hope that my presence will be welcomed and that some of you will no doubt wish to be my guide as I explore my new environs and that you will even deem it proper to share with me your experiences and what you consider the challenges and opportunities confronting this fine metropolis.
As you are no doubt aware, my line of the family Sturnus Vulgaris emigrated, with some assistance from your species, to North America in the early 1880s, landing in New York City’s Central Park at the invitation of a rather unusual and eccentric individual, one Eugene Schiefelin. It seems that Mr. Schiefelin desired that all of the songbirds appearing in the works of William Shakespeare be brought to American shores. He also believed that the introduction of my species would be of great benefit to agriculturalists — a belief that was at the heart of the formation of the Acclimatization Society, which Mr. Schiefelin had become local president of. Whether we have been of benefit remains open to debate. However, North America is a land where we have thrived and flourished; and we have adapted to a wide variety of landscapes and habitats including dense urban areas and your sprawling suburbs with their extensive lawns and gardens.
While my kind is in shocking decline in our home range of Northern Europe and the United Kingdom, we have spread widely and remain ubiquitous across North America where our vast undulating flocks (called murmurations) can be a common occurrence. While I have chosen to reside in Hamilton for the time being, my travels are extensive and I must say unique for a Starling, as I regularly venture back and forth across the Atlantic and maintain a link with Starlings where ever they continue to flock. I have most recently returned from a delightful visit to the United Kingdom where I was able to undertake a series of perambulations of inquiry in Norfolk, London and Oxford. I will venture to Windsor later this month and have made arrangements to return to Central Park in New York City this coming autumn.
I thank you for your interest and welcome your correspondence. My presence in Hamilton and ongoing scholarship would not be possible without the kind support of DodoLab (Lisa Hirmer and Andrew Hunter). You may contact me care of their various channels of communication.
With Kindest Regards,
Professor William Starling
This blog post is a part of the project: Professor William Starling