Daily Invader

Chesapeake Bay Birds

 
Mallard Duck (Anas platyrhynchos)

 

Mallard Duck (Anas platyrhynchos) are both native and introduced.

 

 

 

 

 

Mallard Ducks are native to Europe, Asia, and most of North America. Colonial writings indicate that Mallards were common on the East Coast from Maine to Florida in the 17th century. During this period Mallards were strictly a winter migrant and did not breed along the Atlantic coast or the Chesapeake Bay. Like most other waterfowl species they were heavily hunted, which caused a dramatic decline in their population from 50 to 80%. This drastic decline due to extensive market hunting led to an effort by state fish and game departments and private individuals in the 1940s to replenish these birds through the release of nearly two million birds. These released Mallards were reared on farms, so not surprisingly they did not behave the same way that the wild birds had. Many of these released birds begun breeding along the Atlantic Coast and in the forested areas previously inhabited only by Black Ducks (Anas rubripes). While it is difficult to reclassify a native species as introduced, this is one of those rare cases in which the wild population was mostly whipped out and replaced with domesticated stocks whose behavior (winter migrant vs. year round resident) has had an impact similar to other introduced species brought in from other areas. Their greatest impact has been to the Black Duck population through competition and hybridization. Complete Record 

 

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

 

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) brough over from Europe in the 1900s to ornament estate ponds.

 

Mute Swans are native to Europe. They came to the US in the early 1900s as ornamental birds in parks and estates. The first birds in the Chesapeake region were seen near Ocean City, MD in 1954 and near Gibson Island, MD in 1955. But the probable start of today’s breeding population was 5 birds that escaped from estates along the Miles River in Talbot County, MD during a storm in 1962. By the 1980s the offspring of these 5 had grown to ~ 400 birds, and by the late 1990s the population was in the thousands. As people became concerned about the impact of these birds on submerged aquatic vegetation and local waterfowl, control efforts began. These efforts have succeeded in reducing the population to a few hundred pairs but not without public protest from people who love seeing swans on the Bay. Complete Record  

 

Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

 

Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), a bird that sang for Shakespeare sings for us all.

 

 

 

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!’
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.
—Henry IV, Part I, William Shakespeare

This quote inspired Eugene Schieffelin to release 80 Starlings in Central Park, New York in 1890. It was part of a plan to introduce into the US all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays. Starlings are native breeders in Europe and central Asia, and migrate to Africa, Arabia, and India in winter. But nowadays they are one of the most common birds in urban areas and parks throughout the US. Starlings were first seen in Baltimore in 1906 and in Washington DC in 1916. It wasn’t long after introduction that the birds established breeding areas. Susquehanna Flats near Havre de Grace, MD, Port Tobacco in Charles County, MD, Annandale, VA on the Potomac River, and Hopewell, VA on the James River are major roosting sites. Complete Record

 

  Return to Archives