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On the Spread of Democracy

Vol. XXVI, no. 2

Ian Harris

Eugene Schieffelin let eighty starlings into Central Park in March 1890: He planned to introduce to North America each bird appearing in Shakespeare's plays. This, according to The Ornithology of Shakespeare by James Edmund Harting.

Hotspur: ... Nay,
I'll have a starling shall be taught to speak
Nothing but "Mortimer," and give it him
to keep his anger still in motion.

And the charter of the American Acclimatization Society: "... the introduction of such foreign varieties of the animal and vegetable kingdom as may be useful or interesting."

* * *

There are now believed to be two-hundred million starlings in North America.

Starlings outcompete nearly every species of North American bird.
A starling was once witnessed luring a pileated woodpecker by dangling a worm in front of its hole. The starling then murdered the other bird with several pecks to its eyes.

Banquo: It will be rain to-night.

First Murderer: Let it come down.

They set upon Banquo.

* * *

A flock of starlings is called a murmuring, which can sometimes appear like a widening phrase of bombs come down.

Bomb murmuring. A trade-bead cluster.

Let it come down ...

Caliban: ... and teach me how to name the bigger light.