09 December 2011

August Night at Richmond Filled With Wildbirds

A story from the August 18, 1871 issue of the Daily State Journal, has interesting details on a multitude of birds during the night at Richmond, Virginia.

"The City Filled With Birds Last Night

For several hours last night the city was filled with birds of different kinds, which, attracted by the lights in the different parts of the city, battered their heads against the lamps and windows as if seeking shelter from the cause which drove them here.

About 9 o'clock we heard numbers of them singing, and from the sound supposed they were passing overhead.

At the Monumental hotel, several gentlemen, occupying the front portico, while being entertained by the music of the birds, were astonished to see a bird of the crane species, commonly known as the 'fly-up-the-creek," make a dart at one of the windows, striking his head violently against the glass. So persistent was he to effect an entrance that he remained until captured, rather than go away.

A bee-martin was caught in the street near the Valentine house and killed by a cruel boy.

Will some of our wise men tell us what drove the thousands of birds into the city last night?"

The "crane species" was the Green Heron and the bee-martin would be the Eastern Kingbird.

Reader Reply

A reply in the August 22 issue, provided a local perspective on the event, according to "Sop."

"The sudden and violent storm of last night, accompanied with hail, undoubtedly confused them, and in flying low to the ground to regain their course, lost in the confusion of the storm, some few were blinded by the city lights and came down. I listened attentively for a couple of hours last night and recognized the well known notes to me of many of our migrating species, which I have never heard before. But this is not a single instance of the flight having been forced down. I know, from my own experience, of many instances."