Egyptian Geese, lupines and xenophobia

To: Birding-Aus <>, sabirdnet <>, Birdchat <>
Subject: Egyptian Geese, lupines and xenophobia
From: Willem Jan Marinus Vader <>
Date: Sat, 3 Sep 2016 15:31:00 +0000
Egyptian Geese, starlings. lupines and xenophoba

Today was a sunny day in Tromsø, N. Norway, a respite between rain yesterday 
and rain tomorrow (Not terribly hot, though, +5*C this morning when I went out 
at 10 am). It is clearly autumn here now,  the birches are yellowing, mushrooms 
everywhere. the swallows and terns are gone, and the thrushes are raiding the 
berries in the gardens. Few flowers left along the roads, mostly diehards like 
Yarrow and Hawksweed, but at Tisnes the Felwort still is in full flower. And 
there are still a few flowers in the large patches of lupines that from year to 
year become more prevalent in the area, but which of course do not belong here; 
these are American plants. I remember how elated I was the year I lived in 
Bodega Bay in California, now almost 40 years ago and found several species of 
wild lupines on Bodega Head; but here in Tromsø I don't like them at all, 
beautiful though the flowers may be.

There is a similar case in Holland with the Egyptian Geese that in the course 
of a few decades have become almost ubiquitous in that country. Rare is the day 
trip where this species is not on the list nowadays. And I loathe them, even to 
the ridiculous point that I don't even fully appreciate them anymore in Africa, 
where they of course are fully at home.

Several small flocks of Starlings were around and reminded me that every time I 
write something about this most interesting bird, I get a number of irate 
reactions from the USA and Australia, telling me how awful these birds are.

In all these cases we have arguments that sound somewhat rational: The lupines 
take over the road verges from the local flowers; the Egyptian Geese have the 
nasty  habit of killing off other young and smaller birds in their territories, 
and the Starlngs are simply too many and occupy nest holes that 'better' birds 
need for their nests. But recently I have started wondering if there maybe is 
something amiss with these feelings nevertheless. In these later years we have 
here in Europe a serious problem with large numbers of human refugees, largely 
from areas where there is war, famine, and/or repressive dictatorships, and 
also in Australia and now in the USA 'illegal immigrants' are much in the news. 
And the arguments used to keep out these people as much as possible are exactly 
the same as in the case of the other exotic animals and plant: they do not 
belong here, they take up room and jobs from the 'better people', and they have 
undesirable behavour.  It has made me think: maybe my strong reluctance to 
accept these foreign plants and animals in our nature here North is in fact 
just a kind of xenophobia, in the same way as I feel much of the fear for 
immigrants is too.

A further argument for this view is that the 'fear and loathing' only kick in 
when the exotics arrive in numbers. All birders love to see the lone vagrant , 
and I have no problems at all with another American immigrant on our island, 
the Monkey flower Mimulus guttatus, that has only a precarious toehold here, 
and every year is found at only 1 or 2 spots. Nor do I grudge the 2-3 pairs of 
Collared Doves that have held out in Tromsø since their arrival in 1969, no 
doubt the northernmost in the world. But in the areas in the USA they have 
recently overrun I suppose feelings are maybe quite different towards also this 

Have you ever had any thoughts along these lines? Or am I completely at sea 
with my ideas?

Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway
<BR> Birding-Aus mailing list
<BR> To change settings or unsubscribe visit:

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU