Stanley Temple on Exotic Birds
Citation: Temple, Stanley A. 1992. Exotic birds: a growing problem with no easy solution. Auk 109: 395-397.
An estimated 97 species (75 imported from other countries, and 22 species translocated within the U.S.) have established self-sustaining populations in the U.S. outside their native ranges.
Imported and established exotics originate from Eurasia (47 percent), the neotropics (26 percent), Africa (22 percent), and other regions (4 percent). Hawaii and Florida have the highest proportion of their breeding avifaunas composed of exotics (18 and 9 percent, respectively). At least 61 percent of exotic species were introduced purposely and legally through the cooperative Federal-State Foreign Game Importations Program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1948-1970.. Some 38 percent of exotics are pet birds that accidentally escaped from captivity after having been imported or translocated legally. About 56 percent of the exotic birds of the U.S. are judged to be primarily harmful, 5 percent to be primarily beneficial, and 39 percent to have mixed impacts that may be both harmful and beneficial depending on the situation. Only a handful of exotic bird species have been well-studied in the U.S. The American public is woefully naive about exotic birds, with many of them not even recognized as nonnative by most Americans, and a few (i.e. Mute Swan, Monk Parakeet) even having advocacy groups. Unless the public can be convinced that exotics usually are undesirable, motivation to deal with exotic birds will remain low.
*Stanley A. Temple is Beers-Bascom Professor in Conservation, Professor of Wildlife Ecology, and Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin.