21 January 2014

Extraordinary Death of Songbirds in California

One of the unaccountable phenomena of 1864 has been the immense quantity of songbirds which have been driven upon the cultivated lands of California during the month of May. In the southern counties, thousands upon thousands of robins, linnets, thrushes, canaries, orioles, humming-birds, finches, blackbirds, magpies, sparrows, etc., have swarmed around houses and gardens, destroying the fruit and vegetables, and then dropping down dead near wells and pools of water. The mortality among them has been extraordinary and is supposed to have been caused by their being driven from the mountains by the April storms of cold, when, not finding food in the valley and lowlands, they are killed by the hot winds, hunger and the drouth. When picked up, sometimes ten or twenty in a lump, they are completely starved and fleshless, being often chased down by the boys and cats, and expiring in weak twittles, mournful to the sympathies of the little people, who lay them in their graves. — S.F. Bulletin.

June 22, 1864. Extraordinary death of songbirds. Sacramento Daily Union 27(4135): 2.