A wildlife diversion as we approach the end of the year. Most people don’t give a second’s thought to where a bird or a flower came from and how long it has been here (or there, if you don’t live here) and couldn’t care less. For all that many birders in particular get terribly up-tight about “alien” species, most of which are now so well established that they are here to stay.
And so, todays philosophical point of discussion … earlier today I was exchanging views on the alien-ness of Rock Pigeons, House Sparrows and the like on this continent. Words like hate were employed (??). I contend that all species arrived somewhere from elsewhere at some point in time and so all are aliens in a strict sense but I was surprised to discover that Pigeons did not arrive in the 1800s with the Sparrows and Starlings but way, way back earlier in the 1600s which makes them about as ancient a species as humans on this continent [please don’t muddy the waters here by raising the prior presence of “indigenous” peoples – they simply came a bit earlier but from the opposite direction and presumably brought some Asian aliens along with them, so the principle is the same].
So why do we have such a down on relative newcomers? What about the recently arrived-in-Canada Carolina Wren and Northern Cardinal? Why are they accepted aliens and not the Euro-arrivals? I hold that after about five centuries, the Pigeon has earned the right to citizenship. Sure some are pests, so are some species that have been here since forever as far as we know but being an alien doesn’t automatically make them pests per se.