The European starling was first introduced to North America by the American Acclimatization Society, which wanted to introduce all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare to this continent. The starling is mentioned in Henry IV, Part I— Hotspur (Henry Percy) says,
I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak
Nothing but ‘Mortimer,’ and give it him
To keep his anger still in motion.
100 starlings were released into New York’s Central Park in 1890-91. A flock of starlings is called a murmuration, an incredibly poetic word, but not as poetic as actually experiencing in person the beautiful spontaneity of this dance, this fluid and flowing collective creativity, usually performed before the starlings roost in the evening. (Also done as a way to avert predators.)
So on this cold and bitter February evening—after a long day with emotional, eager, and needy teenagers and after grading a pile of rough but sincere papers— I could use a little murmuration, just before I roost.