16 November 2013

Slaughter of Geese by Lightning

On Monday, the 16th instant, an almost incredible occurrence transpired in the northern part of Sutter and the southern part of Butte county. On Monday evening, just before sunset, a large thunder cloud came up, apparently from the northeast, accompanied by an unusual amount of chain lightning. First a small amount of common hail fell, and then followed sufficient snow to whiten the ground. As the hail began to fall and the lightning flashed, thousands of white geese, which were in the ponds of shallow water which exist in that locality during very wet winters, suddenly rose up in great flutter, as if many hunters had discharged a volley among them. they went up and up, apparently to rise above the fearful cloud. It was nearly dark, and those who saw them rise thought no more of it till morning, when they began to find dead geese, and hear of hundreds being picked up by the neighbors. Some 700 had been found. One man picked up on his farm all two horses could haul, for their feathers. Their heads were badly torn and their bills split into fragments. Many of them had the feathers of their backs crisped and burnt and their bodies bursted open. The portion of country thus affected was about a mile and a half wide, and reached several miles in Butte county. The terrific lightning in this cloud was witnessed by people on the Honcut, in Yuba county. The thunder was heard twenty miles distant.

April 29, 1874. Memphis Public Ledger 18(51): 2. From the Yuba City (Cal.) Banner.