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Feb 2, 2009 | by Adrian Binns
Since I mentioned in an earlier blog that the European Starling was introduced I thought I would go a step further and talk about a few others that are commonly found. While there are many exotic avian species that have made their way one way or another to our shores, I am limiting this to the geographical area around the Delaware Valley (centered on Philadelphia).

Maybe the most infamous of the lot is the House Sparrow (above), introduced to Brooklyn in 1851 by those believing that they would be beneficial controllers of pest insects. By 1869 they had reached Philadelphia and became abundant by the end of the century. To some they are now the pests.

Mute Swans (above) were introduced from Europe as an ornamental bird to ‘decorate’ Long Island, NY ponds in 1910. It was not long after that that they showed up in New Jersey. By the 30’s they appeared in Pennsylvania and two decades later were in Delaware.

In the 1930’s the House Finch (right), native to the southwest of the United States, was introduced to New York as the ‘Hollywood Finch’ by pet dealers. The dealers soon came to realize that these birds did not retain their bright red coloration while kept as cage birds, and were promptly released. By the late 60’s they were breeding in southeastern Pennsylvania and are now found throughout our area.

I hesitate to mention Monk Parakeet and Eurasian Collared-Dove as neither has established a breeding colony and any small population we have in this area is likely to have come as a result of escaping from the local pet trade in the late 1980’s or more recently.

Rock Pigeon’s were introduced to North America by European settlers in the early 1600’s, most of these birds being domesticated versions of their feral population. As an interesting tidbit neither of the three European imports, European Starling, House Sparrow or Rock Pigeon are afforded any protection from state or federal laws.
all photos © adrian and jane binns

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