25 July 2012

A Wonderful Bird - A Nat for the Naturalists

A few days ago Mr. James Mason, of Vernon township, took his gun, and, in company with his dog, started out for the purpose of hunting pigeons. While making his way through a deep, thickly wooded ravine, he heard a swift rushing sound in the air above him, while a dark shadow, similar to that produced by a small cloud, was thrown upon the ground. Of course this movement did not fail to attract the attention of the huntsman, and he glanced upward, when he saw, not as he supposed, a flock of pigeons, but a huge bird circling around above his head, and apparently deliberating about pouncing upon him for its prey. The sight at first somewhat startled Mr. Mason, but upon reflecting that he had both barrels of his gun well loaded, he determined to stand his ground and give "the vermint" as he expressed it, a lively turn. While waiting till the feathered monster had approached somewhat nearer, and was apparently hovering almost over him, Mr. Mason took deliberate aim, and discharging both barrels at once, had the satisfaction of seeing his huge game come fluttering and tumbling to the ground. Highly elated, Mr. Mason sprang forward to secure his prize when an exciting scene commenced. The bird, though badly wounded, was not killed, and put forth a stubborn resistance, beating the air with his wings in so furious a manner that neither Mr. Mason or his dog ventured to approach within a dozen yards, and it was not until he had fired three shots into the head and body of the monster in succession, that he ventured to approach and finish its existence by knocking it on the head with a club. From all accounts this wonderful bird belongs to species now totally extinct, but which lived and flourished, according to Cuvier and Audubon, in the days of the mastodon. It is much larger than any known species of the feathered creation, weighing exactly 92 pounds. Its body is covered with short thick feathers, those on the underside being pure white, while the back is slightly mottled with gray. The wings are nearly black, measuring 12 feet from tip to tip, while the bill is hooked and of a bluish cast. The legs are long and slender, of a pea green color, and the feet webbed like a duck's. From our exchanges we see that a bird of similar character was killed near Mound City, Ill. Mr. Mason has preserved the skin of the monster, and will soon bring it to the city, where it will be placed on exhibition for the inspection of the curious.

October 5, 1868. Fort Wayne Daily Gazette 6(129): 2. From the Dubuque Iowa Times.