25 May 2014

Corps to Investigate Possibility of Illegal Wetland Filling

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been asked to investigate the possibility of wetlands being filled at a facility operated by the City of Omaha at 11th and Locust street. During a recent visit, there was dirt placed within areas with may potentially be wetlands, especially on the northwest and eastern extent of the site which is adjacent to Levi Carter Park.

According to a Corps official, the City of Omaha has not received a permit that would allow any fill activity at this location.

The Corps of Engineers is responsible for regulating wetlands through provisions of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

State Agency Evaluating Water Quality Concern at Carter Lake

The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is evaluating a water quality concern associated with water being pumped into Carter Lake. The pumping activity is being done by the Public Works Department of the City of Omaha. This evaluation may include further investigation, according to an email received from the agency.

A request to agency asked that they look into the water turbidity present the morning of May 17th associated with the inflow of water from the pump operated by the city agency. The discoloration of the water was obvious.

There was no response received from an email sent to City of Omaha officials.

Pictures of the tainted water taken on May 17th.

With the millions spent to improve water quality at Carter Lake, why is the water being pumped in by Public Works obviously degrading the water where it enters the lake at the pump station outlet on the north side within Levi Carter park?

From what was heard from a Public Works official on the phone, the state agency, along with a representative of this city agency, visited the lake in regards to this issued on May 28th.

24 May 2014

City of Omaha Mismanages Natural Area at Levi Carter Park

Staff of the City of Omaha have once again allowed a simple request to result in further degradation of the Northwest Pond Natural Wildlife Area at Levi Carter Park.

Excessive mowing of the area is the latest occurrence. On a bicycle visit during the morning of May 23rd, most of the area which could be reached with mowing equipment had been cut with intent. Too many places looked like turf grass. For some reason this place got direct and excessive attention, while elsewhere in the park a great number of park maintenance things needed attention. There are many acres which have not been mown and have grass more than 12 inches in length. There are also a dozen or more tires which some perp threw onto the bank of the lake, where water is being pumped continuously into the lake. During my time at the pump station, six of these tires were carried away from the lake so that the they were obvious enough to perhaps result in their removal. Wind-blown branches are strewn about, and the tree guys were removing trees, and whether or not they gave any attention to the possibility of nesting birds is obvious.

According to the park caretaker, the recent storm meant tree removal was actively underway during a brief chat during a Friday morning visit to survey what birds were present. Mr. park-man did not want to engage in any sort of conversation, but said a few words as his truck crept along and along further upon the recreational trail. He knew what had happened elsewhere in the park.

While bicycling about, a bunch of discarded aluminum cans spread hither and yon were picked up to be taken away, during one more bird survey.

The primary situation of concern this day was the Northwest Pond.

It is difficult to deal with the unnecessary mowing and destruction of sapling trees among this bit of green space What happened was obvious, and obvious upon arrival at the south side of the pond.

Despite every effort to conserve the habitat, things have repeatedly gone wrong multiple times due to careless perspectives.

During the first times of my bicycle survey of birds, it later became apparent why the park manager was always trying to move along during what a bit of a chat. It was only later that the reality of the green space destruction was apparent.

A prior email notice from Andy Szatko, an Environmental Inspector with the Public Works Environmental Quality Control Division, indicated that some mowing was required to cut-back brome grass to allow warm-season grasses to thrive. The places primarily seeded with the native species of grass were on the west and south side of the pond. There had been

Obviously there was insufficient communication between the Public Works Department and the Parks Recreation and Public Property.

The latter agency did the mowing, Szatko said.

This occurrence would be less problematic if only grass and other herbaceous vegetation had been impacted. But the mowing also cut down numerous tree saplings. In a couple of places, the wild growth had previously been selectively cleared to allow a primary tree or two to thrive and eventually provide additional woody vegetation. These places are now barren.

Other pertinent points associated with this sordid mistake, include:

1). By mowing the vegetation, any inhibitory plant growth has been removed, so the ground is open for trespass by 4x4 vehicles. The huge tree trunks placed as barriers are now useless since they can be easily bypassed. The problem with illegal 4x4 traffic was one reason signs were placed on the borders of this public property.
2). Trash within the area had not been picked up prior to the mowing, so it was shredded and thrown about, making this condition worse.
3). Birds may have been starting to nest among the vegetation cut to near its roots. There was no nesting survey done prior to the mowing activity. If any nests were destroyed, the City of Omaha violated the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and should be subject to fines.

Another point of concern, is the lack of attention to detail regarding indicative signs. In particular, the sign at the southeast portion of the area indicating the illegality of 4x4 traffic and indicating the natural wildlife area continues to get skewed. During a visit on May 17, the sign was pushed over and at an approximate 60o angle. It was pushed upward to have a straight alignment, with dirt pushed around the anchor pole to keep it that way. On the 23rd, it was once again tilted. Once again, the pole was anchored with pieces of wood and dirt so it had a straight-up alignment.

Someone has been intentionally shoving the sign around. Levi Carter Park is a place where people throw about trash, discard tires and do other things that degrade the park.

This bit of a natural area continues to get abused for some reason or another. The lack of attention to details is vividly indicated. Previous mismanagement involved the clear-cutting of trees on the west side of the pond, which was done last autumn by a misinformed contractor.

One mistake is just that. But when another destructive mistake occurs, it is symptomatic of a greater problem. If Public Works cannot suitably manage a two-acre area associated with a storm-water retention locale, it is questionably what will occur when so-called "green solutions" are placed in other eastern Omaha parks in association with the CSO! project.

It is not apparent what will be done to make certain that this damaging mistake does not occur again. Based upon known history associated with this locale, any expectation is contrary to the indicated designated use of this abused green space.

There is a some sort of suitable manner to resolve what has happened here, once and again. What that might be is not yet known? If there was an answer, there would be no question!

There needs to be some sort of mitigation for this wanton destruction.

These pictures indicate the extent of destruction caused by the mistaken mowing.

Considering a Nebraskan's 35-Year Birding History

During a spring day in April 1979, there was a personal urge to get outdoors to see what was happening outdoors. There must have been fine weather, since the drive of that one day meant an arrival at Ninemile Prairie, the well-known refugia of tallgrass prairie northwest of Lincoln. Any recollections of the visit are long gone, but a few trivial details are known because of a brief article in the "Babbling Brook" newsletter of the Wachiska Audubon Society. Bird species noted were a Great Horned Owl, Eastern Meadowlark, and the Black-capped Chickadee which was certainly bouncing about the few trees in the draw.

This is where my birding history began, 35 years ago when any looking above or below to determine identity of some sort of bird was an entirely new endeavor. An entire perspective started then in a small manner. It became more a month later.

My perspective on watching birds shifted dramatically when a grant was awarded to a research team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through a competitive process associated with the Student-Originated Study program of the National Science Foundation. My preparatory efforts meant being selected as the student director. This meant hiring five other UNL students, determining research methods, planning for multiple site visits and other assorted protocols for a summer-season study on two farms in Douglas county, Nebraska. There is the recollection of driving the research crew from Lincoln on the first day in May, when a deer was struck and killed as it crossed the county road. The summer crew conducted research primarily on the Akerlund Farm near Valley from May to July. There was also the subsequent analysis of data and preparing reports.

The records from May 22, 1979, based upon an area grid used to depict bird territories, are essentially the origins of my birding heritage. Those representative maps, showing species occurrence based upon a four-letter code, are still among the small portion of the paper trail associated with past bird endeavors. It was only within the past few months that they were carefully reviewed and evaluated, with any appropriate records added to the historic birds database.

Saline wetlands came into focus some months later. Federation Marsh — now the publicly-owned Frank Shoemaker Marsh — was an especially interesting habitat place, repeatedly visited. It's still a wetland complex with a wonderful variety of species, along North 27th Street. I'd been vaguely aware of this place from years earlier, having spent many childhood days at Cobhill to the south.

Influences of habitat upon birds became a particular focus in the spring of 1981. It's an obvious connection documented in pursuit of an advanced degree. Funding came from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The intent had been to do the research at UNL but that was not to be. A return to Omaha and UNO occurred instead. Dr. Roger Sharpe was my tepid adviser in the Biology Department. The degree program worked and a M.A. was received. The thesis title based upon standard bird surveys of particulars habitat areas at Twin Oaks WMA in Johnson County Nebraska was: "The Effects of Habitat Management on Nongame Birds." Diamond Lake WMA was originally meant to be the study site, but a dearth of vegetative variety resulted in a geographic change. By attending UNO, the degree was an M.A. rather than an M.S. All is certainly better than some. This research subject set the tone that still continues.

There was a slightly lesser interest in birding during the mid- to latter-1980s. One primary effort of this time period was compiling breeding bird records, which resulted in the publication of "Nebraska Birds: Breeding Status and Distribution in 1988" with its computer-generated maps prepared with the assistance of UNO remote sensing personnel.

A key decision occurred in the early 1990s, when paper-based bird observations were transferred into an computer database format (starting with Paradox and continuing with MS Access). It was an arduous effort go page by page through sheets of paper to suitably enter and edit the observations. This was, however, a key decision in providing a means to enter an extensive number of records from sources of interest. There is the ability compare and evaluate details for particular places, regions and many other particulars.

During the 1980s, the kept details of significance include records derived from:

  • weeks of summer-time employment along the Missouri national recreational river, investigating the Least Tern and Piping plover, while employed with the wildlife division of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
  • various travels throughout the state when a vehicle was available and there was cash to pay for gas and necessities; it was May 1982 when the first visits were made within the Sand Hills vicinity, especially to Anderson Bridge WMA along the central Niobrara River, with numerous other trips made to other publics lands along this river valley through 1988; a side-trip in 1984 Valentine NWR in June provided the first document record of Cattle Egrets nesting within Nebraska, and there also a fine variety of other fowl to enjoy during outings on two-days with Don Emerick, refuge staff (see Nebraska Bird Review 52(4): 76). It was surprising to note that the breeding bird observations from this visit had not been included with the expansive sandhills' database. This situation was immediately rectified.
  • regular visits to the various sites associated with the north Lincoln saline wetlands, most notably to Shoemaker Marsh and Arbor Lake, and less often to the Little Salt Forks

In 1989, there was a dramatic shift in focus. The sand hills became the primary area of interest for birding endeavors. It was a region of little knowledge, based upon my wide-spread research, so a decision was made to rectify this short-coming in knowledge of the state's avifauna. A worthwhile, gray GMC 4x4 was purchased for travel purposes. Thenceforth, any vacation-time available from working as an information specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, within the Computing Services Network, was all allocated to traveling among the western expanses of western Nebraska. The suv was my living quarters, and a with all things arranged appropriately, it was a comfortable respite. On only a few occasions were the mosquitoes a pest.

When not traveling, paper research provided further details from publications noting avifauna history.

In 2000 a second book was published denoting the early history of all birds in Nebraska, as presented in "Birds of the Untamed West - The History of Birdlife in Nebraska, 1750 to 1875." Obviously some time previous to its public appearance time was taken to find a publisher, going through an onerous review process, get written permission for visual material, consider costs and other miscellany; these were the responsibilities of the editor. Eventually it happened.

During this ordeal, the focus was subliminally upon other places. Many subsequent years, and lots of money and time, were spent traveling about the region to observe and records bird occurrence at hundreds of sandhills' places. It was all good, and eventually led to moving to the region, dwelling at Swan Lake, southwest of Brownlee for some months. Cash was always missing so living in the sandhills did not work, this time nor another time at Ainsworth. Eventually my residence became Omaha once again.

That bird focus never flew away. It has changed and adapted to conditions, and grown in some manner, but always thoroughly documented. In particular, the results are within three databases, upon one blog, and conveyed by numerous ancillary photographs:

The top ten localities visited, based upon records in the historic birds database:
¶ Levi Carter Park
¶ Carter Lake
¶ Elmwood Park Ravine
¶ Wood Creek, Elmwood Park
¶ Carthage (now at 81 species)

¶ Federation Marsh and Frank Shoemaker Marsh
¶ Happy Hollow Creek
¶ Shadow Lake, Elmwood Park
¶ Memorial Park
¶ Levi Carter Pond
  • historic birds: 41,607 records starting on 3 April 1979 but really getting underway on 22 May 1979; the records are from a few more than 325 distinct localities; the most recent additions include the addition of a Blackpoll Warbler and the Chestnut-sided Warbler to the tally for Carthage
  • sand hills: 53,684 records from 6 May 1982 through 2 October 2011 from more than 1000 distinct localities, especially from 1) Swan Lake, Pass Creek; 2) Mother Lake; and 3). Carson Lake; records include observations from the Niobrara River valley.
  • bird strikes: 1949 records from Lincoln and Omaha, starting on 26 March 2007
  • originating and maintaining the Wildbirds Broadcasting blog since April, 2007
  • thousands of associated photographs which have been carefully cared for, appropriately identified as to place and subject; most of them are in an electronic format with many photographic slides to soon be scanned into a digital format to make them available to use and to have a "backup" for the originals. Hundreds document the plethora of bird-window strikes observed in Lincoln and Omaha.
  • developed during a period of more than fifteen years is the unique Ancient Avifauna database, an effort which started small, continued through the years bit by bit, and then became a particular focus with an intention to document so many details for all of northern America, for thousands of years prior to 1885. The project has been the primary focus during the past few years.

More than 97,200 distinct personal records are among the overall tally. There are also many thousands of others sightings within the recordbase, as conveyed by a vast multitude of other observers.

In recent years, especially most lately, many of the bird outings have been surveys done via bicycle. This included visits to the north Lincoln wetlands while residing on the southern edge of downtown Lincoln. It was a long ride then and it is still a long ride upon the same bicycle which has been repaired so many times. Nearly all of the bird-strike surveys are done using the same bicycle, since it continues to get fixed as it is the primary means of transportation.

Ongoing Birding

Year 36 is now underway, starting on a May day with morning rains that stymied an outing to look for the latest collision fatalities. My clothes are soggy from going to and from the college library.

For pending times of birding, there is no expectation for some new rare species, as this has never been of any special interest. Instead, there will some more bicycle outings for surveys to document how many birds occur and where, especially east Omaha parks. This is not being done as a good time, but in order to document the value of green spaces for a wonderful variety of wildbirds. There will be more public discourse on how to retain and manage public lands for the good of urban wildlife in Omaha, and maybe elsewhere as time slides along.

If my focus had been on something other than birds, it would have been a completely different life. There are no regrets though during recent years it has been a difficult trail due to the lack of spendable cash. Being a bird advocate is not a lucrative profession.

This does however, not matter when a disabled bird is carefully picked up and moved to a safer place in eastern Omaha, after it has struck a pane of glass. Their pain is great. Perhaps a bird or two has been able to recover undisturbed to continue their seasonal migration.

There may come the day when my personal records will exceed 100,000 records ... it will not be about the numbers, but it will be results of many days of enjoyment outdoors appreciating the wonderful variety of wildbirds in Nebraska.

This is post number 1600 on Wildbirds Broadcasting.

21 May 2014

Clarifications on Spring Lake Park CSO! Story

A story on the CSO! project now underway at Spring Lake was issued May 20th in the Omaha World-Herald. It focused especially on the new pond to be created in the woodland hollow north of F Street.

The second half of the piece discussed the proposed "piping" of the spring-fed brook south of F Street. During my research on this, it became apparent that the City of Omaha Public Works Department proposed to place forty feet of the creek into a pipe, for dam safety reasons. I'd never suggested that the entire creek would be impacted.

It needs to indicated that the Public Works Department decided that F Street would be designated as a dam. This is according to a representative of the Department of Natural Resources of the State of Nebraska, responsible for approving pertinent parts of the project design. A city official, when asked, agreed with. A CSO! representative said that the option to bury the creek was being done primarily because of cost considerations. He also indicated in later March, that the public did not "have a choice" in the matter.

According to a phone call and email from Jim Theiler, the CSO! project manager, Public Works is "... getting close on pulling some info together on alternatives to have less impacts on the stream." This is according to an email received on May 9. This situation is reflected in the article, where Ned Tramp is quoted as saying: "We are exploring options to leave the stream south of the F Street embankment undisturbed."

The value of the Spring Lake Park for birds was prominently mentioned in the article, with Janet Bonet, president of the Spring Lake Neighborhood Association, strongly indicating the value of the park (its creek, springs and woods) for local avifauna.
Chris Burbach. May 21, 2014. Spring Lake Park - coming soon: new fishing pond. Omaha World-Herald 149(195): 1B-2B, with two pictures.

Commentary of Hawaii Birds Killed by Wind Turbines

Courtesy of Jim Weigand. A PDF listing the turbine fatalities was included in the email received, but is not included here.

Last week a story broke from Hawaii that has exposed this wind industry secret. The wind turbines in Hawaii have been killing endangered species since 2006-2007. In fact a list was published showing 50 endangered species having been killed by wind turbines. For seven years this has been kept from the public and as I have found out from years of researching this industry's bogus documents, there are many other dark secrets pertaining to this industry.

Making matters worse I have read over some of the studies used at these turbine sites. The studies from Hawaii have been rigged to hide mortality. My estimates are that 300-500 endangered species have been killed by the 200 MW of wind power in Hawaii. Most of these deaths have been recent because of this wind energy was not in production in 2006 and 40 of the 50 reported endangered species carcasses were reported after 2011.

The availability of carcasses to be found in any mortality study depends on the scientific methodology, search intervals, search plot size, crippling bias, searcher efficiency, and scavenging rates. All wind industry mortality studies are severely flawed and far from being scientific. When taking into account the severely flawed study methodology used for Hawaii's wind turbine studies, it is very obvious that the real death toll of endangered species killed by Hawaii's turbines is in the hundreds.

The Kaheawa Pastures wind energy facility (First Wind) on the island of Maui wind turbines were built in the nesting habitat of the world's rarest goose, the Nene. This wind energy facility has reported 18 Nene killed by the Kaheawa Pastures turbines with ridiculously small search areas for 300 ft tall turbines. Of these 18 reported Nene fatalities, 11 were recorded during their Aug-April nesting season. This species lays 3-5 eggs and during their nesting cycle, the death of an adult will likely lead to a complete nest failure or the death of their offspring. So not only are the fatality numbers of Nene being under reported, their offspring are being
killed by these turbines.

On top of this entire charade, the fatality data in the mortality studies is being processed with bogus calculations and a Huso program that further reduce the estimated mortality taking place by this wind project.

What has taken place in Hawaii this is an eye opening example of the character of this industry and the extinction of species coming to the world from wind turbines. Hawaii has plans to install thousands of MW of wind power. If this takes place most of the endangered species being killed by their wind turbines will not survive.

Extinction of species is neither renewable nor green.


These are some additional details provided by Mr. Weigand.

On the list I sent there are 50 total that have been reported. These 50 represent 4 species and 40 of the 50 have been killed since 2011. Below are some of my notes from the Kaheawa Pastures wind energy facility. These are as rigged as they get and it is very obvious to me wind crews are pre-scanning ahead of formal searches. They even petitioned to get search areas reduced to 48 meters for their 325 ft tall turbines. They have been using 73 meter search areas..

At KWP they are only using a 73 meter radius search area. This is equal to 16733 sq meters. Proper search areas for these turbines should be at least 150 meters out from turbine bases. This is an area of 70650 square meters or an area 4.22 times larger. A more accurate search area of 175 meters would be an area of 96162 sq meters or an area 5.7 times larger. This factor alone is proof that far more endangered species are being killed by these turbines.

But with any honest study all carcasses or cripples seen no matter how far they are from turbines should be reported and included in the data. It should also be a felony for not reporting or concealing the carcass of an endangered species. Presently because of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service voluntary regulations there are no penalties for this behavior at wind farms

Wind turbines and geese found far beyond 73 meters...

These are some pertinent links available at WindAction.org

Geese slaughter: two eyewitness accounts
Dead geese seen on roads near turbines
Wind turbines a risk for waterfowl, expert tells audience
Species-rich Hawaii poses unique challenges for wind power industry

20 May 2014

Pending Buildings Include Features Hazardous to Birds

Two proposed building projects proposed for downtown Omaha would include structures with features known to be dangerous to migratory birds. Both projects are in the same vicinity of several other buildings where there have been numerous bird-window collisions.

Especially hazardous would be the mixed-use Shamrock Development slated for the block northwest of 10th and Capitol Avenue. There would be multiple buildings, many with glass being used as the exterior walls. An area of retail would include a courtyard area surrounded by multiple structures. The entire extent of landscaping is not known, though street-side trees are shown in the architectural rendering.

Courtesy image

The Lanoha Development would be built at 14th and Dodge Street. An architectural rendering shows an extensive use of glass for the exterior walls.

Courtesy image

This building would be prominently hazardous as it is located directly south of the First National Park, with its numerous trees and other green-space that attract various birds.

It seems apparent that bird-safe building options have not been considered in the architectural design for either project.

Grasshopper Sparrow Dies at Gavilon Building

Another wildbird has died due the deadly glass at the Gavilon building in downtown Omaha. It was a Grasshopper Sparrow found on the morning of May 20th. The carcass was found on the west side of the building, about fifteen feet from the south corner.

View of the deadly scene and a closeup of the dead sparrow on the sidewalk. The sparrow struck the glass at the upper portion of the picture.

 

There were eight bird-window strikes noted during the early morning survey. They included:

  • unknown warbler on the west side of CenturyLink Center; a small colorful bird was seen being carried away by a Common Grackle; this is the first time this has ever been observed
  • Orange-crowned warbler on the west side of CenturyLink Center
  • female Common Yellowthroat on the west side of CenturyLink Center
  • Tennessee Warbler on the west side of CenturyLink Center
  • Dickcissel on the west side of CenturyLink Center
  • another Orange-crowned Warbler on the west side of CenturyLink Center
  • a male Indigo Bunting on the north side of the north tower at Central Park Plaza
  • the Grasshopper Sparrow on the west side of the Gavilon building

Three of the birds found dead in downtown Omaha on the morning of May 20th.

The death of the sparrow is the second bird-window strike at the Gavilon building, since the recent completion of its construction.

More Dead Birds on Wednesday

Four additional dead birds were located Wednesday morning, May 21st. They were found at:

  • a dead Ovenbird at the Gottschalk Freedom Center (an Omaha World-Herald building) on the west side, at the first section of glass from the north corner
  • a dead Catbird at the west entrance of the north atrium at the First National Tower
  • a dead female Common Yellowthroat on the north side of the Wentz Community Engagement Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, about 50 feet east of the doorway

A surprising find was a dead Red-bellied Woodpecker at the northwest corner of 37th and Leavenworth streets. The carcass was on the sidewalk beneath the industrial powerlines. It apparently hit one of the lines. This is not the first time that a wildbird was killed by this powerline. Based upon the location and condition, there were no indications it had been struck by a motor vehicle.

Dead birds found May 21, 2014 in eastern Omaha.

Overhead powerlines at 37th and Leavenworth Streets, at the site where a Red-bellied Woodpecker was killed.

19 May 2014

First Strike Fatality at UNO Community Center

Having watched its construction, it became obvious that the class on the northern facade of the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center would be a deadly place for birds. It did not take long for a window-strike to occur at this most recently built building at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. A dedication on April 17th marked the official opening of the structure.

On the morning of May 19th, a dead Swainson's Thrush was found beneath window on the north side of the building. The area had been scanned on many previous days, but this was the first time a carcass was located. The bird hit the reflective glass about 35 feet east of the doorway. The death probably occurred on the 18th.

The thrush carcass is in the near-center of the upper photograph, behind the second bit of greenery from the left side.

This is undoubtedly only the first bird-window strike that will result because of the extent of use of highly-reflective glass and due to the placement of landscaping. Numerous trees have been placed northward of the center and will be reflected in the glass panes. They are also at a distance sufficient to be a hazard when birds flew southward from them towards a hard surface which will be mistakenly perceived as a tree.

Offensive Interference Called - Carter Lake Comments

The following comments were received from a lake-side resident of the City of Carter Lake who enjoys kayaking about the lake. The email included this comment: "...here are two or perhaps three cents worth, which I would offer for any use, inclusion, exclusion, editing, paraphrasing, or ignoring, and want absolutely no attribution if you should elect to reference, use, edit, etc, in any way. The issue is the concern." The comments are presented as written, and convey another perspective about the conditions at Carter Lake.

 

Offensive Interference Called

No, not a reference to a popular athletic event, but a sad commentary on events of an environmental sort.

Several years ago, some supposedly wise people decided that the water in Carter Lake was too turbid, and, notwithstanding numerous water-churning speedboats, the culprits were several species of “undesirable” or “trash” fish. While one’s perception of what kinds of fish are “undesirable” might change if one were a fish, and particularly one denoted as “trash,” something had to be done.

A decision was made, and funds allocated. Chemicals were distributed around the lake, killing every living thing in the water. Wholesale, indiscriminate death. Within days, the lake surface was choked with literally millions of dead, decaying fish, and any other creature unlucky enough to have been the recipient of the fatal “water treatment.” News stories appeared in print and on local stations, showing crews in commercial john-boats shoveling and pitchforking carcasses up to nearly three feet long into boats and then into dump trucks, to be hauled away to landfills. There were not enough boats or crews to remove the carnage. The result was a putrid, reeking, decaying, biomass which rendered the lake disgusting and unusable, if not, indeed, a health hazard. Not to mention the stench which permeated the shoreline and surrounding neighborhoods for weeks.

Sure enough, the water quality did improve. Visibility was much greater. And, of course, if some is good, more is better. So more chemicals were dumped into the lake, this this time to “bond” with the algae and aquaflora, causing particulate matter to sink to the bottom. Unprecedented water clarity resulted. Surely, backslapping was called for, if not drinks all around.

However...remarkably clear water allows sunlight to penetrate. Clear, shallow water is the perfect environment for aquatic vegetation. When the water was turbid, much less sunlight promoted the growth of vegetation. And, the undesirable fish churn up the bottom preventing establishment of vegetation. Some eat vegetation. Removing the fish, and removing particulate matter in the shallow water was a recipe for adverse result.

There is a school of thought which recognizes, or believes, that there is a natural order and balance in nature. Many studies have examined the ebb and flow of populations of predator and prey, such as the classic prairie dog vs coyote study done some years ago, which typifies the balance resulting from the virtual “arms race” which over countless millenia shaped both the prairie dog and its behavior, and the coyote in response. Life adapts to exploit available resources. Life is opportunistic. Whether one construes nature to be rational or simply efficient, processes that work clearly continue, and vice versa. The logical inference is that when natural processes are disrupted, one of two things results: (a) if the disruption is sufficiently widespread, major changes in ecology and environment will result, or, (b) if local in scope, regardless of causation, natural processes will soon be re-established, This is seen each year with the cycle of lightning induced wild fires, floods, and similar natural events.

This begs the question which seems to have eluded the would-be well-doers: How do they suppose those “undesirable” fish came to be in the lake? Did they evolve in Carter Lake over millions of years? (If so, why do they not exhibit species specialization or differentiation as observed in creatures found on the Galapagos Islands?)

Of course not. Fish lay eggs. Their eggs are typically a gelatinous mass resembling tapioca pudding. Egg masses often drift into shallow water. Shore birds wading in search of a meal are oblivious to the eggs, which stick to their feet and legs. When the birds fly to the next lake, guess what? Unless the well-doers propose to eradicate all of the “undesirable” fish within several thousand miles, it should come as no surprise that the “undesirable” fish are right back in the lake, re-establishing their natural populations.

So what did all of this accomplish? That is a fair question. To anyone who may wish to enjoy the lake, the birds who joyously serenade each morning, the calming visual effects of gently rippling water, or perhaps venture out on the water in any number of ways, over half of the lake is now choked with pond weeds, grasses, lily pads, weeds of every sort and kind. One cannot move a pontoon boat more than a few yards before the propeller is fouled and progress stopped. Sculling, rowing, paddling...all are made miserable if not nearly impossible by the weeds and vegetation. Swimming is worse than unpleasant, and rewarded with itching, red bites of some kind of bug or inhabitant of the vegetation. Are the fish better off? Are the people who used to enjoy water recreation better off? Were the funds expended well spent, or simply squandered in an ill-advised, failed experiment with predictably poor outcome?

Students of nature realize everything in nature seems to be interconnected, somehow, in ways that have come to be over millions of years, and are not likely to be suddenly disconnected or isolated for the convenience of a County Board or Lake Association.

Wild Pigeons Abound in Fayetteville

Wild pigeons abound in great numbers in Fayetteville, N.C. at present.

February 9, 1860. [Wild pigeons abound in Fayetteville.] Jeffersonian 19(5): 2.

Fatal Accident While Hunting Pigeons in Tamarack Swamp

Just after midnight on Friday night, Mr. Madison Shoemaker, of Colebrook, accompanied by a young man named Finley, were hunting in the great pigeon roost in the Tamarack Swamp in Bloomfield in this County; while Finley was carrying the gun on his shoulder, and Shoemaker was walking behind, the charge in the gun exploded, the load entering the body of Shoemaker just above the breast bone, killing him instantly. The place where the accident happened, was near the west side of the swamp, and it required the utmost exertions of six men, for six hours, to convey the body through the swamp, to the eastern side.

Mr. Shoemaker was about fifty years of age, and leaves a wife and several children.

March 7, 1860. Fatal accident. Western Reserve Chronicle 44(30): 3.

Millions of Wild Pigeons Over Cincinnati

Millions of wild pigeons passed over Cincinnati on Sunday. A great fuss is made in this State when a single bill passes over the head of the Governor, and we wonder what Cincinnati must have thought when so many bills passed over her head in a single day.

March 29, 1860. [Millions of wild pigeons over Cincinnati.] Jeffersonian 19(12): 1.

Sky-Rockets Among Pigeons at Cleveland

A few days since, while the wild pigeons were flying in innumerable quantities over the city, Mr. Geo. N. Baker, proprietor of the pyrotechnics establishment at the corner of Perry and Superior street, thought he would see what effect his fire-works would have upon the feathered tribe, and upon trial discovered a new field for sporting gentlemen to humor their fancy. Just as a large flock approached he sent hissing through their midst a half dozen heavy rockets, producing a wild and irrepressible consternation; at once the vast flock would change its course, while the greatest number would come down within a few yards of the ground, wandering about in wild confusion. One heavy rocket bursting just before a large flock and shooting out its hundred fiery, hissing serpents, had the effect to send the whole brood flying upwards until it was lost to the sight. In many instances large numbers, diving in wild confusion to the earth, were captured by boys in the neighborhood, who together with many people who happened to be on the ground enjoyed the sport as peculiar original and well worthy 'The Spirit of the Times.' — Cleveland Plaindealer.

April 5, 1860. Sky-Rockets among pigeons. Jeffersonian 19(13): 1. Also April 4, 1860 in the Daily Dispatch, issued at Richmond Virginia.

Great Haul of Pigeons at Covington Pennsylvania

Up in Covington last Saturday, at the place of Mr. Jacob Gress, were caught over nineteen hundred wild pigeons, say 2000 in round numbers. Mr. E. Harris and Mr. Gress inform us that the pigeon roost has been broken up by the hunters from Scranton and other places, who gave them no rest. — Wilkes-Barre Times.

April 5, 1860. Great haul of pigeons. Jeffersonian 19(13): 2.

Important to Sportsmen of Ulster County

The woods in the Nevesink Valley, in Ulster County, are literally alive with wild pigeons. They first made their appearance in that vicinity in February, but the weather turning very cold, left for other parts, returning as soon as the weather became milder. They now cover an area of about nine miles long by two in width, and have commenced building their nests. In many places they are so thick upon the trees that the boughs break. Thousands have already been killed.

May 4, 1860. Important to sportsmen. New York Daily Tribune 20(5937): 7.

Ten Miles of Pigeons in Western Ulster County

We copy from the Windham (Green Co.) Journal, the following account of a Hunting Expedition in the wilds of Western Ulster — a region of country traversed by ourselves "once in a time," some twenty years ago — drawn thither by the wonderful stories told of trouting in Balsom Lake:

We stated last week that a party of our villagers had started for the Pigeon Encampment on Tuesday afternoon. It is in the town of Denning, Ulster county, on the west branch of the Neversink. The party consisted of Messrs. B.H. Waldron, S.W. Stimpson, Geo. W. Potter, T.D. Traphagen, S.D. Cowles, J.E. Matthews, Edwin Story and Asa Palmer.

They left here at about 2 o'clock, arriving at D.C. Deyo's Westkill, at about 5. After a halt of half an hour, they proceeded to Brownell's Hotel, Shandaken, and up for the night. They left early the next morning, and arrived at the head of Big Indian at about 10 o'clock A.M. Here they left their team and proceeded to cross the mountain on foot a distance of about four miles, to the Hunter's Cabin, around which they found the woods fairly alive with pigeons. The flock is said to be spread over a space of ground some ten miles long and two miles wide.

The trees there are filled with nests in every direction, and the ground is almost covered with eggs and dead pigeons. The hunters shoot into the crowds, and when the birds do not fall within a few steps, they make no effort to find them, but try them again. There was an immense number of hunters on the ground, and when the party from this place came out they met some 150 or 200 persons armed and equipped — for the work of slaughter — who were just "going in."

The country is a perfect wilderness, it being some ten miles through from the settlements in Ulster county, to the settlements in Sullivan. The timber is very large and tall. The west branch of the Neversink is one of the most beautiful streams in the country.

The party encamped one night in the woods, and enjoyed themselves immensely living on broiled pigeons, &c., with nothing to disturb their repose at night save the hootings of one owl, and the barking of few wolves in the distance.

Leaving their encampment on Thursday morning, they returned to the Windham on Friday — having had a pleasant excursion, with no accident to lament, and having captured about 500. Of course the game was liberally divided among the friends of the party, and their being one partridge in the lot, it fell to the share of the printer, with a fine bunch of pigeons for which we return our thanks.

May 16, 1860. Lehigh Register 14(33): 2.

Pigeon Trade of Michigan

We learn from the Grand Rapids Eagle that there have been shipped from that place alone — to say nothing of the large quantities shipped at other places in that region — 558 barrels, or 108,555 pounds, of wild pigeons during the past season. The Eagle estimates the total number of pigeons shipped from that region of Michigan as between one and two million.

The freight paid on pigeons at the Grand Rapids Express office during the season amounted to 3,488.98; and the pigeons sold for about $25,250. Quite a respectable income for one town, from wild game, in a single sporting season.

August 10, 1860. The pigeon trade of Michigan. Burlington Free Press 7(6): 2.

Texas Intelligence - Swarms of Pigeons

The Quitman Herald mentions the appearance of great swarms of wild pigeons there. The people were amusing themselves shooting them.

December 11, 1860. Texas intelligence. Memphis Daily Appeal 11(290): 2.

Quantities of Pigeons at Davenport Iowa

Every day our sportsmen bring in quantities of wild pigeons. They are killed out in the groves of the county, and the sport is said to be exciting. They are generally shot while flying singly, but sometimes respectable sized flocks give the hunter a chance of bagging a good many at one shot. They are mostly all young pigeons, and very fair eating as the know by repeated culinary experiments. This pigeon shooting is now nearly the only sport here. The river is too high for successful fishing, as numbers have found out this week.

June 8, 1861. Pigeons. Davenport Daily Gazette 7(190): 1.

Thousands of Wild Pigeons Among California Oaks

The San Juan Press says:

Among the oak forests, two or three miles northeast of that place, wild pigeons have made their appearance by thousands. Several of our sportsmen visited their haunts a day or two ago, but were not very successful in slaying them. The pigeons fly too high, and when they alight it is almost invariably beyond the fowling piece range.

November 5, 1861. Wild pigeons. Sacramento Daily Union 22(3309): 2.

Pigeon Roost Story

By J.F.L. Written for the Plymouth Weekly Democrat.

'It sounds more like the sounds that greet your ear when you enter Mrs. Raymond's parlors on the night of one of her grand assemblies, than anything else; but stay, here seems to be a road, as least it feels like one under one's feet.'

'Let's take it — which way?'

'Stop, I have an idea!' said I.

'And what is it?' said Wadley.

'Why, lets feel for the north side of a tree.'

'Do what?'

'The north side of a tree, you know, is the roughest.'

'A bright idea, I think' said Phil.

But our idea was better in theory than in practice: we examined a dozen trees; I've done it in day-time — but by feeling we could not discern north from south — devil a bit — so we took one way hap hazard. On we went, a mile or more, Wadley having the lead.

'Wadley,' said I, 'the roar of the pigeons is receding from us; we have got out of the roost, and have gone wrong: we had better retrace our steps.'

'I don't — ooh!' and his answer was broken off by a loud splash.

'What is the matter?'

'Oh, I am — the Lord knows where — drowned in a quagmire — oh, help! — every step sinks me deeper!'

'Goodness, man, come back this way,' said I, not daring to budge an inch for fear of getting into it myself.

Just at that moment, as if by magic, the moon burst out in a little blue spot from the misty canopy of clouds which enshrouded her — the first time she had made her appearance the night long, and revealed to us a small rocky heath covered with haws, crab-apples, briers and sedge, with a swampy stream running the middle of it. I beheld my friend Wadley standing in it up to his middle, and myself on the very brink of it. Phil now found his way out without any difficulty, and no damage but the accession of a wet and muddy pair of inexpressibles. I happened to know the spot we had walked a couple of miles the wrong way, when a hundred rods in the other direction would have carried us right into the camp.

There was nothing to do, however, but for us to retrace our steps, which we did, but had hardly drawn near to the roar of the roost, when the moon left us to shift four ourselves again. Grateful for what she had done, we groped in silence for some distance.

'Wadley,' said I, after a long and insidious travel in the dark, 'we surely have gone more than two miles!'

'Nigher five, by my reckoning,' he responded, in a despondent voice.

'Ah! I see a bright spot in the heavens — it is so, the moon is coming out again.' And as I spoke, the silver glimmering orb burst forth in her bright effulgence, and scudded merrily through the twickering twigs of the high trees.

The dark masses of pigeons were piled up in the trees around till scarce a bough was visible, and some trees bent to the very ground with their encumbrance; the thousands that whirled and fluttered through the air in every direction, were now distinctly visible, and presented a singular and wild scene.

'Angels and ministers o' grace defend us,' cried Wadley in my ear — 'yonder's a veritable ghost, Jack, sure as shootin'.'

'Where?' said I, somewhat hurriedly.

'Look, under yonder tree — that thing! Did you ever see such an object since the day you was born?'

'Bless me! what can it be?'

It was a white, roundish object, of no particular shape, and very frightful to betold. Phil and I cautiously drew towards it, and we found it to possess some faint resemblance to a human being, apparently asleep or dead.

'By all that's funny, it's Fred, as I live,' cried Phil, going up and giving it a punch with his gun-butt, that brought him to his feet instanter.

'Hay-yo! good Mr. Devil, don't stick your pitchfork into me so strong. Lord! I thought I was dead! Who's here — thieves! help! murder! — Out, ya cut-purses, or I'll show you what virtue there is in a musket ball,' and Fred raised his gun to his shoulder. I knocked it up.

'Why, Fred, is that the way you treat your friends?'

'Friends! What! boys, is it you? Dear me, I am exceedingly astonished! Devilish glad to see you. By all the kettles in Lucifer's kitchen, I thought I was a gone sinner, and had given myself up to die here in the woods. Run me through a carding machine, or a cotton gin, but may I never be dragged through a pigeon-roost again!'

'Why, what's the matter, Fred?' I asked, choked with laughter at his ludicrous appearance and rueful countenance.

'Matter!' he growled angrily, 'I've spent the night in Tophet, that's all.'

'Ha, ha, Lem, — beg pardon, Fred, but what have you done with your nether integuments?'

Fred was not an Adonis in shape when he had his Sunday's on; but the figure he now cut was inconceivably comical. He was literally covered with mud, blood and feathers, with a dash of green slime where he had fallen into some mud-hole. His coat had not a rag of tail left, and his other vestments seemed to be nothing but rags, while of his trousers nothing remained but the waistband, and a few streamers attached thereto; his top boots and Kilmarnock nightcap being the only integral garments I could observe about him. The ooze and pigeon feathers which covered him, looked as if he had undergone a sentence from Judge Lynch. He stepped out ruefully, and cast a dolorous glance at his plight, as he shouldered his musket, which we now discovered was blown to pieces, with little but the stock remaining. Flesh and blood could stand it no longer, and Wadley burst into a paroxysm of laughter.

'You may laugh, my friends, but if you had gone through what I have, you would not have much inclination that way. All this blessed night have I traversed this infernal roost from one end of it to the other : devil of a soul did I see the whole time, though they were shooting all around me. Whenever I saw a flash from a gun, I made right for it, hallooing with all my might; but no use, I couldn't find anybody. The infernalish hag-ridden, which possessed race I have had, tearing and sweating through the bushes, crawling through briers and thorns, and falling into mudholes and quagmires until I am as sore as if I had been dragged over a hemp-hackle. Finalyy, I found this bed of leaves, occupied by an old son; I drove her out and took possession, determining to rest my bones here till morning. In falling over a bush, my old musquitoen went off and bursted to flinders. It is a great wonder I didn't get killed, or at least seriously hurt; but fortune favored me that time.'

By this time the moon was shining as bright as day, and after our mirth had somewhat subsided, we found a puddle, where Wadley removed some of the filth and mud that encumbered him, and we continued our route campward.

Half an hour's walk brought us all three to the camp, where we found no one awake but Jim Davis, who seemed to be acting sentry. Bob and Oren were both far journeying in the land of Nod, and Jim's eyes did not look half an hour high. While Fred and Phil were relating to him their adventures, I made a rigorous attach on the comestibles, finding my appetite whetted very keen by my ramble. After devouring in indifinite quantity of sandwiches, roast potatoes, and porter, I finished with a cigar, and took a look around : found all snoring away, each in a different key, like a concert of bullfrogs in a swamp — except Joe, who had finished his nap, and was martyring a squab, feathers, inside and all, on the end of a stick over the fire. The trees and the fire began to dance and glimmer and spangle in my eyes, and as Bob says, the next thing I knew I didn't know nothin'.

It was scarce breaking day, when I was aroused by Oren and Wadley to go out and shoot some birds with them; now was the best time, as the pigeons were some of them taking a short nap; and as most of the firing had ceased, there was not so much to distrust them. It was just light enough for us to distinguish the dark masses of birds; we could now shoot with a better aim, and we made great havoc among them, bagging nearly three hundred in a very short time.

'I say, Jack,' quoth Oren, as it grew a little lighter, 'I wish I had a looking glass.'

'What for?' said I.

'I want to show you your face, what with dirt, burnt gunpowder, blood and feathers, I don't think Miss Nancy would be tempted to kiss you this morning. I beseech you to take a squint at your trousers in the meantime; a rag merchant would have turned up his nose at them in disgust.'

'Bah! they are nothing to Phil Wadley's here — he is in real Arkansas costume — nothing but his boots and the waistband of his drawers.'

'But just see here — magnificent!"

We had just risen a little hillock, when the sun loomed up from his cloud couch, and shown on a scene of splendor truly indescribable. We had ceased firing some minutes before, and all was still as death.

The eminence overlooked a vast forest-plain, the bright rays of the rising sun beaming in level lines of light from the blue hazy horizon upon that scene, and every tree and every limb and every twig in that forest, almost as far as the eye could reach, covered and bending down with the graceful and repeating forms of the wild pigeons; their gorgeously-tinted, gold-burnished breast glittering in the sunbeams, — one vast panoply of green and purple gold spread over the whole forest as if by the wand of a magician. Word cannot convey the superb beauty of the scene. Each tree, and taken in a view the whole landscape, was but one mass of sparkling plumage. An hour after, what a contrast! As the sun mounted higher, battalion after battalion took wing and hied away in every direction, and the trees, which were before absolutely trodden by the weight of legions of birds that swarmed in their branches, now presented a scene of desolation. They are crushed, mangled in every direction; some with their trunks snapped off like pipe stems, and hundreds with every branch stripped off. If a hurricane had passed over, it would not have left a more naked and desolate scene behind.

Not a living things to be seen, save a few poses and wild hogs devouring the dead birds that lie scattered over the ground, the victims of the sportsmen or the fall of trees and branches, and a huge goshawk here and there, or an eagle, soaring over the scene of carnage. The darkness and the bushes cause the sportsman to leave half of his birds on the ground, and the wild hogs absolutely get fat on them.

As we returned from the roost, we presented even a more unique company that in going; so much so, that aunt Sally set the dogs on us when we rode up to the yard gate.

The End.

February 20, 1862. The pigeon roost. Plymouth Weekly Democrat 3(4): 1, new series.

Number of Wild Pigeons Bagged in Pennsylvania

Our neighbor, Philip Clark, Esq., bagged quite a number of wild pigeons on Thursday last, by means of a net, on the hills, in this vicinity.

April 5, 1862. Pigeons. Sunbury American 15(2): 2.

Pigeon Hunting in Oneida County New York

Rumor, than whom there is no fiend more swift of foot, and poisoned tongue, has been much circulated of late, that the woods surrounding this classic villa, were filled to overflowing with flocks of wild pigeons. Acting on this belief and supposition, some half-dozen of our brave and valiant hunters, seizing their "shooting sticks," sallied forth one pleasant morning, to bag the game, and scatter death and destruction on every hand. But alas! how often does noble effort fail to receive its just reward. Though our heroes skirted over hill and dale, through forest and glen, till tired and weary, they wended their way homeward, with only one luckless bird as a trophy; yet they aver that they discovered whole acres of ground, which had but recently been scratched over by the ravenous birds. Our Nimrods will, by this wonderful discovery, doubtless be stimulated to renewed exertions, until the woods cease to echo the cooing notes of the wild pigeon.

May 1, 1862. Pigeon hunting. Clinton Courier 5(35): 3.

Wild Pigeons Netted in Columbia County Pennsylvania

Samuel Kline, of Benton, Columbia County, has "netted" 250 wild pigeons this spring.

May 2, 1862. [Wild pigeons netted in Columbia county.] Union County Star and Lewisburg Chronicle, page 1.

Perfect Clouds of Pigeons Swarm Minnesota Wheat Fields

Never before, within our memory, have pigeons been so numerous as this year. They fly over in perfect clouds; they swarm upon the wheat fields in this section of the country, threatening the utter destruction of every seed sown. In some cases acre after acre of wheat has been picked up and swallowed by them after it had been sown, before it could be covered.

May 6, 1863. Pigeons. Goodhue Volunteer 7(11): 4.

Wild Pigeons in Vast Numbers in Minnesota

Wild pigeons are seen in vast number in Minnesota, near Chatfield. In such swarms have they appeared on some farms, that they are with great difficulty kept from gathering the wheat as fast as it is sown. Their settling upon the field and flight resemble great clouds. The prairie chickens are very numerous, and are doing much damage by picking up the newly-sown wheat.

May 15, 1863. [Wild pigeons in vast numbers in Minnesota.] Daily National Republican 3(143): 2.

Heavens Black With Wild Pigeons at Dubuque

All day on Sunday last at Dubuque, we learn the heavens were black with wild pigeons flying northward. That must have been a dark sky.

April 27, 1864. [Heavens black with wild pigeons at Dubuque.] Urbana Union 3(5): 1.

Millions of Pigeons Nesting at Chatfield Minnesota

The Chatfield Democrat has been informed by a person who has counted the pigeons in the "Roost" near that village, that they number precisely 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. As each nest is supposed to turn out two "squabs," the Democrat desires that some gentleman, who has the necessary leisure and mathematical ability, will calculate how many pigeons there will be in that roost "when the young 'uns are hatched." ...

May 11, 1864. Fillmore County. Winona Daily Republican 5(1351): 3.

Pigeon Harvest at LaCrosse and Sparta

Some idea of the pigeons to be found in this section may be had from the fact that one man, twelve miles south of LaCrosse, has with a net this season taken over thirty thousand, all of which have been sold in this city. He has two thousand on hand for the shooting match tomorrow. Another man in Sparta, seventy-eight miles from here, has caught and sold over eighteen hundred dollars' worth this season. The price they bring — four dollars a hundred by the quantity — makes pigeon catching rather profitable. It is fun for the men, but very bad for the pigeons. — LaCrosse Democrat.

July 8, 1864. Pigeons. Fremont Journal 12(27): 3, new series.

Wild Pigeons in Oregon

The woods in the vicinity of Portland abound with large flocks of wild pigeons, giving sportsmen a fine opportunity to exercise their skill. G.S. Vanslyke yesterday shot three dozen of the feathered tribe in the course of a half-hour's shooting, within two miles of the city. — Oregonian, July 28th.

August 8, 1864. Sacramento Daily Union 27(4175): 1.

Skirmishes All-day After Suffering Pigeons in Wisconsin

Our village is vocal, after a fashion, with the noise of firearms. Morning, noon, and night the report of guns warns us that somebody or thing has gone the way of all flesh, and is en route for that receptacle of defunct fowls — the pot. The suffering party here are the pigeons, which are quite plenty in the woods, and form a tempting invitation to all sportsmen which is not slighted. So far we have been unfortunate; we have got no gun — turned ours over to the government — and nobody, as yet, has remembered the editor by leaving him some of their spoil. If anyone was to offer us some pigeons we of course would accept them, not that we wanted them, but merely as an act of courtesy.

September 21, 1865. Skirmishing. Door County Advocate 4(19): 3.

Pigeons Flying in Numbers at Urbana

During the past week the wild pigeons have been flying about in such numbers as would gladden the heart of any Jerseyman. Geese and ducks also abound; among the most attractive of the latter being a duck of a bonnet, just introduced as the spring style. We haven't heard the name, but it seems especially adapted to lover's "au revoirs" and affectionate adieuxes. That is, the bonnet is so far from the face that it will act as no preventing providence.

March 7, 1866. [Pigeons flying in numbers.] Urbana Union 5(50): 3.

Clouds of Pigeons at Cincinnati

The atmosphere of Cincinnati was disturbed on Thursday, by the flight of prodigious flocks of pigeons, the whir of whose innumerable wings at times was heard like the rush of the wind through a leafy wilderness. It is conjectured that this extraordinary movement of birds indicates the breaking up of a pigeon roost in Indiana. The pigeons were flying from the southeast to the northwest out of range.

March 14, 1866. Clouds of pigeons. Western Reserve Chronicle 51(30): 2.

Wild Pigeons Shipped from Cartersburg Indiana

$12,000 worth of wild pigeons have been shipped from Cartersburg, Indiana, on the Terra Haute Road, to New York, within the past five weeks.

May 8, 1866. [Wild pigeons shipped from Cartersburg.] Columbia Daily Phoenix 2(42): 3.

Pigeon Nesting in the Highland Woods of Pennsylvania

For us to attempt to enlighten our readers in this locality, upon the subject of pigeon nestings would be idle indeed, but there are many others who as verdant as we were, will look upon the congregated millions of these birds with their nests as they are now to be seen in the Highland woods for miles in extent and covering thousands of acres, as one of Natures' Wonders. When a boy we read Audubon's account of a great pigeon roost in one of the western States, and his vivid description aroused a desire in me to see something of the kind for ourselves, a desire which has never been gratified until now. We have been to see this nesting. We left our horses are the house of Mr. Stubbs in Highland who directed us to go down the draft south-west from his house about a mile. He said "we couldn't miss it." Well might he say so, for long before we reached them we were made aware of our proximity by their loud and continued noise. We reached the nesting about noon. We found the cocks were on the nests while the hens were away feeding. This is one peculiarity of the pigeons eminently necessary in their multiplication. Myriads of them nesting in one locality it requires a large scope of country to furnish them their food. They are known to feed fifty miles distant from their nests. The absence for this purpose would would require so much time, that the eggs would become cold, were it not that the cock and the hen each sit on the nest while the other feeds. For this reason a flock of pigeons during the hatching season is always either all cocks or all hens. When we were there the hens commenced coming in about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and continued until we left which was between four and five. The noise made by them coming in, can only be compared to a mighty rushing wind, while the confusion and combination of sounds occasioned by the cries and flapping of wings of those among the trees, must be left to the imagination as beyond description. The nests are much smaller than we had fancied, apparently not larger than those of our smallest birds but very different in shape and construction, being built of stocks, and almost flat. The pigeon sits on top of the nest, not in it, the head and tail projecting. As many as a dozen nests will be found on quite a small tree. The timber is generally beech, maple and hemlock. The extent of the nesting is not know certainly, but it must extend along Bear Creek a distance of at least ten miles. When we were there some of the young were hatched, as was shown by the egg shells strewed over the ground. About the later part of this week, people will be rushing to the nesting to gather the "squabs" the name given to the young pigeons. These are said to be a delicacy, and will be gathered by the wagon load.

We recommend all lovers of sport as well as all those who like use were anxious to see one of the most remarkable sights animated nature affords to visit this nesting. We feel (notwithstanding our old shot gun nearly knock one side of our face off) that we were amply repaid for our trouble. To those who are fond of the good things of this life, we need only say that Mrs. Stubbs gave us one of the best meals we ever had in our life.

May 3, 1866. Pigeon nesting in the Highland Woods. Elk Advocate 6(11): 2.

The Pigeon Nesting.

The pigeon nesting in Highland continues to be a great attraction. Hunters and lovers of the curious are daily going and returning. The "squabs" have been gathered in great quantities and shipped off. Acres of timber have been cut down for the purpose of getting them. They are now able to fly and we presume must be shot. After they had grown to considerable size, and just before they could fly, a very easy mode of capturing them was to jar the tree, when the squabs would jump out of the nests and fall or flutter to the ground. A colony of about sixty Indians have established themselves among them and are making terrible havoc. The little Indian boys are said to be bringing down the pigeons by their bows and arrows with an unerringness of aim worthy of the days when through this land the rights of their race there was "none to dispute."

May 10, 1866. Elk Advocate 6(12): 3.

Beech Forests in Ohio Alive with Wild Pigeons

The beech forests in the vicinity of Wilmington, Ohio, are said to be alive with wild pigeons.

June 13, 1866. [Beech forests alive with wild pigeons.] Urbana Union 5(12): 2.

Pigeon Shooting Extraordinary at Devils Hole West Virginia

From the Ritchie County (West Virginia) Press.

We were one of a party of fifteen to visit the famous pigeon roost at "Devil's Hole," on Thursday night, where we witnessed one of the most beautiful sights it has ever been our good fortune to behold. We arrived on the ground about sundown, and had not to wait more than half an hour until the advance guard commenced coming in, which continued until we grew weary and began to inquire it they were not almost all in, our pilot assuring us they had scarcely commenced. By and by the squabs began to increase in numbers and become more frequent, until finally they swelled into a vast cloud, which almost obscured the heavens above us from our view, and flowed down the ravine in a perfect stream, without any cessation, for upward of an hour, accompanied by a noise like the flowing of a mighty river. We were amazed, bewildered; and requested our brother hunter to hold our hat while we would, with open mouth and eyes, and wide extended arms, take in the scenes above us. Finally the rear guard came up, and by the time they had all found a resting place every tree, and bush, and twig was bending beneath their weight, resembling, more than anything else we can call to mind, a swarm of bees settling pon the limb of a tree. The ground was covered with limbs broken off by their weight. We noticed trees as thick as a man's waist broken and beat to the earth, and others entirely uprooted. It was undoubtedly the grandest sight we ever saw. Any one who has never visited a pigeon roost can form no idea of what it is, and he is not expected to credit the stories of those who have been more fortunate than himself. The large flocks that pass over town, which are so much admired by our citizens, are as a single bee in a hive compared to what is seen at a roost. We could advise all lovers of the beautiful who can, to pay a visit before they take their departure South. Another pleasing feature to those who relish rare meat without salt, was the roast in the woods.

Our spoils were three hundred pigeons, and it was not a good night for pigeons either.

November 13, 1866. Waukesha Plaindealer 2(17): 1. Also: March 6, 1867 in Charleston Courier 10(10): 4.

A New Scourge - Whole Fields of Grain Destroyed by Pigeons

A New Scourge - Whole Fields of Grain Destroyed by Pigeons
Initially May 8, 1867 in the Memphis Appeal 17(243): 4.

We learn from reliable sources that the farmers of many of the western counties are much troubled with pigeons, in fact these birds have become a perfect scourge. Vast flocks have made their appearance, the air in many places being literally darkened; and having migrated a long distance from the south they are very voracious. These flocks alight upon the fields of new sown grain, and rolling over and over like the waves of the sea, pick up every kernel of grain in sight. It is impossible to drive them away; they are unmindful of the firing of guns, throwing of stones, shooting of men or barking of dogs; and it is an easy task to kill any number of them with a pole. One farmer residing near Independence had sown three acres of wheat, and was preparing to harrow it in, when the pigeons made their appearance and gobbled up every kernel before he could get it covered. Some fields containing forty acres were absolutely covered with pigeons, and although the sportsmen waged an incessant warfare against them, and killed great numbers, their places were soon supplied with others. Hunting pigeons has lost the charm of novelty, and the main question is now to save the grain. With the present high price of seed wheat, and its scarcity, this becomes a question of serious consideration.

A great number of fields will have to be sowed a second time, and we hear of some farmers who are doing it the third time. From all accounts, the main depredations of the feathered scourge appear to be confined to the region of country bordering the Wapsipinicon, as but comparatively little damage is reported along the Cedar river. — Dubuque Herald.

May 17, 1867. Lockport Daily Journal and Courier 9(73): 1.

A Pigeon Invasion.

The Dubuque (Iowa) Herald says that in the western counties of the State the pigeons "have become a perfect scourge. Vast flocks have made their appearance, the air in many places being literally darkened, and having migrated a long distance from the South, they are very voracious. The flocks alight upon the fields of new-sown grain, and rolling over and over like the waves of the sea, pick up every kernel of grain in sight. It is impossible to drive them away; they are unmindful of the firing of guns, throwing of stones, shouting of men or barking of dogs, and it is an easy matter to kill any number of them with a pole. One farmer residing two miles east of Independence had sown three acres of wheat, and preparing to harrow it in, when the pigeons made their appearance and gobbled up every kernel before he could get it covered. Some fields containing forty acres were covered with pigeons, and, although the sportsmen was an incessant warfare against them, and killed great numbers, their places were soon supplied with others. Hunting pigeons has lost the charm of novelty, and the main question is how to save the grain."

June 6, 1867. Farmer's Cabinet 65(46): 1.

Milwaukee Market Over-stocked with Wild Pigeons

The Milwaukee Wisconsin says the market is over-stocked with wild pigeons, and the birds can be had in any quantity almost for the asking.

May 19, 1867. [Milwaukee market over-stocked with wild pigeons.] Columbia Daily Phoenix 3(151): 2.

Wild Pigeons Brought Into Little Rock for Sale

Wild pigeons by the wagon load are brought into Little Rock for sale. They bring fifty cents a dozen. The Gazette says that "two gentlemen residing below the city, killed 1,200 pigeons with their shot guns, on Monday morning last, on the Keatts bar, twelve miles below town.

November 5, 1867. [Wild pigeons brought into Little Rock for sale.] Columbia Daily Phoenix 3(196): 3.

Appearance of Immense Flocks of Pigeons at Pennsylvania

During the latter part of last week immense flocks of wild pigeons made their appearance in this vicinity. A great many were captured in nets by our sportsmen, near this place. On Saturday they were offered in our markets at seventy-five cents per dozen. We hear of large numbers being caught in the neighborhood of Williamsport.

April 18, 1868. Pigeons. Sunbury American 4(25): 3.

Numerous Flocks of Wild Pigeons at Greenville South Carolina

Numerous flocks of wild pigeons have passed over the town, during the past week, almost invariably pursuing a course directly East and West. The flocks were not very large, and we have not heard of their roosting anywhere in this vicinity. The "old folks" say that their passage is the fore-runner of succeeding cold weather, near at hand. — Greenville Mountaineer.

October 3, 1868. Wild pigeons. Columbia Daily Phoenix 4(167): 2.

Virginia News - Wild Pigeons in the Woods

The woods about Petersburg and in Chesterfield county are filled with wild pigeons. Many have been killed in the last few days.

October 19, 1868. State news. Native Virginian 1(48): 2.

Market Price for Wild Pigeons at Urbana Ohio

In the good old times of 11 to 15 years ago, one could get all the wild pigeons desired for 20 to 25 cts, a doz. Last week all brought to town were readily disposed of for 75 cts. a dozen. In the good old times, however, you could shoot 'em with a club — they were so plentiful; not you have to take 'em on the fly. And if you do take a pigeon on the fly, it's fowl. Pigeons are selling in West Liberty for 50 cents a dozen.

April 14, 1869. [Market price for wild pigeons at Urbana.] Urbana Union 8(4): 3.

Across the River for a Morning's Sport in Arkansas

Across the River for a Morning's Sport

A gentleman of this city went across the river night before last to enjoy a morning's sport. He returned yesterday evening with two mallards, one "redhead," and seven blue-wing teal duck, beside six wild pigeons, some doves and two becassees.

October 25, 1869. [Across the river for a morning's sport.] Memphis Daily Appeal 30(55): 4.

Hunting Expedition Returns with Quantity of Pigeons

The party who started from here last week on a hunting expedition to Long Pond returned on Saturday last with a deer, and a quantity of pigeons, pheasants, and wild ducks. A party from Wilkes-Barre who were there at the same time secured a good sized bear.

October 29, 1869. [Hunting expedition to Long Pond returns with a quantity of pigeons.] Columbian 3(43): 3.

Wild Pigeons Going Southward at Ouachita Louisiana

The wild pigeons are making their way southward. We have seen several flocks flying over.

November 20, 1869. [Wild pigeons going southward.] Ouachita Telegraph 5(9): 3.

18 May 2014

Greene County - Immense Pigeon Roost on James Creek

An extensive pigeon roost exists on James creek, about twelve miles south-east of Springfield. The Patriot says the slaughter of the innocents goes on fearfully there every night. Men go out in Democrat wagons, carrying implements, and come back sober, with sacks of pigeons — bags of pigeons. We have pigeon pies for dinner, broiled pigeons for breakfast, and warmed over for supper. The market price is 25 cents per dozen., with a downward tendency. Barrels, bales, and tons of pigeons are shipped daily for St. Louis. Men have forgotten politics; bolters, for the time being, have respite and nepenthe, and people talk, think and feel only for pigeons.

November 3, 1870. Neighborhood news. Greene county. Bolivar Free Press 3(23): 3.

Great Flight of Wild Pigeons in New Hampshire

The greatest flight of wild pigeons that has been known in the memory of the oldest inhabitants is occurring in New Hampshire. Forty-three flocks were counted passing over Portsmouth in one hour. One person in Elliot killed sixty at one shot, several others have killed in one day from one hundred to two hundred each.

November 3, 1870. [Great flight of wild pigeons in New Hampshire.] Holmes County Republican 21(11): 2. Also: October 19, 1870 in Lima Weekly Gazette.

Miscellaneous Reading - A Georgia Pigeon Roost

The Whole Sky Darkened for Miles With a Pigeon Tornado.

A letter from Clarksville, Georgia to the Germantown Telegraph contains the following graphic account of a Georgia pigeon roosts, which it would, seem eclipsed the Kentucky roost:

This roost occurred in the month of February; the place selected by the pigeons was on the banks of the Chattooga river, near the confluence with the Tugalo, on the eastern line of this county, where the mountains rise abruptly on either side; a wilder and more inaccessible a place could not have been found in the United States. Our party consisted of four persons, all armed with good double-barreled guns and mounted on horseback. We started about three o'clock p.m. for the roost. After fording the Tugalo we skirted along the breakneck sides of the mountain until we came within a half mile or so of the beginning of the roost, which extended over an area of some five miles or more. Here we were obliged to leave our horses and take the rest of the trip on foot. The sun was now about half an hour high, and the pigeons had just begun to come in. As we were high up on the side of the mountains on the west side of the river, our position was an excellent one to see the innumerable flocks as they poured over the mountain tops into the valley. As we did not wish to enter the roost until after sunset, we remained an hour or so viewing the immense host of birds which no man could number; from east to west, north and south they came in flocks of all sizes, roaring and rushing through the air, whirling and sweeping in every direction.

It being our intention to go near the centre of the roost and spend the night there at a camp prepared by an old hunter of the neighborhood, we started as it begun to grow a little dusk, leaving our horses securely tied to saplings. As our camp was on the east side of the Chattonga we forded it on foot, and soon entered the edge of the roost, where there were myriads of pigeons and myriads still coming from every direction. As we were bound for the camp which was still a mile distant, the difficulty was how to get along, as the numbers on the trees were so great that there was a constant crash of the limbs breaking from the trees, making it hazardous to skulls and limbs to pass under them. To move the pigeons out of the path we had to resort to firing volleys among them which had the effect to move them so that we could pass along with safety. — An amusing incident or accident occurred to one of our party who was walking by the side of the writer; his name was George Gable; he had a pretty large talkative mouth usually more or less open, and as it was now early dark and the pigeons flying in every direction from the breaking of the timber, one came like a bullet directly into George's mouth, and killed itself outright!

After reaching camp and resting awhile, we divided into two parties and began shooting, and all we had to do was select trees which were filled with birds and fire into the midst of them as near as we could : it being dark no precise aim could be taken, but looking up we could distinguish the dark tree tops sufficiently well to get an aim. On firing at a mass of them they would fly a short distance and settle again, but as there were plenty of trees filled with them, we did not have to run many steps to get another shot. After every shot we could hear the birds fall amongst the universal din, some on the ground and some in the river. We kept firing at intervals until midnight, when we gave up and returned into camp to await for daylight to pick up the game.

Shortly after daylight, on going over the ground where they had roosted, it had the appearance of having been visited by a tornado; numbers of trees with trunks a foot or more in diameter, which grew in a leaning position from the side of the mountain, were broken off near the ground, while thousands of limbs of all sizes were split from the trees. The great noise and confusion continued until three o'clock in the morning when all became hushed and silent as death, save now and then the howl of the wolf, the bark of the fox and the scream of the wildcat, which hold high carnival on the occasion. — Shortly after daylight in the morning the flocks commenced reforming, and started off on their morning foraging expeditions, which extend to a hundred miles or more in every direction, to return in like manner as before. This roost was continued about two weeks, when they moved off to the north. — Near its close it was almost impossible to enter upon the ground they had occupied in consequence of the manure which not only covered the ground but every stick and bush. On going over the ground in the morning to collect the birds we had shot during the night, we found many that were killed and maimed by the falling timber. How many we had killed could not be ascertained, as numbers fell into the river and were carried down the stream. We brought out, however, 535 birds, which were as many as we could comfortably carry. While searching about in a laurel thicket for the dead birds, we came across a pile of a peck or more of gizzards, which had been left there by some 'varmint,' probably a wildcat, which did not appear to relish them as food."

March 29, 1871. Juniata Sentinel 25(13): 1. Issued at Mifflintown, Juniata County, Pennsylvania.

Sportsmens Harvest - Professional Pigeon Catchers at Wisconsin Roost

Scores of our sportsmen are having rare fun, bringing down pigeons, a few miles east of town, where a pigeon roost is in full blast. Several professional "pigeon catchers" from other States are on the ground, with all of the appliances for entrapping the unsuspecting birds. Several barrels have already been shipped to eastern markets.

April 21, 1871. Sportsmen's harvest. Sparta Eagle 10(39): 3.

Pigeons Spoiling Crop Fields in Wisconsin

The Wood County (Wis.) Reporter says: "Farmers are complaining bitterly of the damage done by the millions of pigeons which have made headquarters at or near Friendship, and make marauding expeditions every morning with the regularity and certainty of a Sherman bummer. Fields of wheat are being completely spoiled, and all grain sowed is as good as lost to the husbandman. — Hundreds of flocks may be seen every morning flying to the northwest to feed on the acorns of the oak forests in the western portion of the county, and returning with the approach of night."

The Waupaca County (Wis.) Republican says that the pigeons are spoiling the wheat fields. They dig up wheat by the acre.

May 24, 1871. The pigeons. Madison Observer 50(2571): 2.

Great Pigeon Roost at Kilbourn City in Wisconsin

The great pigeon roost at the West this year is in Wisconsin. A paper at Kilbourn city says that for three weeks pigeons have been flying in flocks which no man could number. On Saturday, April 22d, for above two hours before nightfall, they flew in one continuous flock from south to north, darkening the air and astonishing the people by the sound of their wings. — Hotels are full of trappers and hunters, coopers are busy making barrels, and men, women and children are active in packing the birds or filling the barrels. They are shipped to Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. From 10,000 to 30,000 birds are forwarded daily.

May 30, 1871. [Great pigeon roost at Kilbourn City, Wisconsin.] St. Lawrence Republican and Ogdensburg Weekly Journal 41(28): 2. Abbreviated version on June 1, 1871 in Edgefield Advertiser 32(23): 2.

Enormous Pigeon Roost in Wisconsin Woods

Correspondence of the N.Y. Evening Post.

The propensity of wild pigeons to congregate in multitudes at given seasons is well known, and many tremendous stories have been told of them, the details of which were thought to make a heavy draft on public credulity. We have now, however, authentic information from a gentleman of the highest reputation, who passed last week in the section of Wisconsin we are about to describe, of a "roost" as enormous in extent that it throws all the older accounts into the shade.

Commencing near Kilbourne City, the breeding ground extends northward nine townships in length, and probably more, with a variable width of from ten to twenty miles. The forests within these limits are made up exclusively of oak and evergreens, of a variety of species. It is a sandy district, embracing perhaps the poorest soil in the State, and apparently destitute of food for even moderate flocks of birds. Yet almost continually, over the whole area, every tree and shrub is so loaded with nests as to be past computation in numbers. On single pines from eighty to one hundred were counted, when the job had to be given up as impracticable.

Our informant, Cl. Henry Herndow, gives some curious details of his experience on this breeding ground, and of the habits of the pigeons when aggregated in such multitudes. The nesting place is not, as would naturally be supposed, selected for any abundance of food, for the pigeon can readily pass in an hour from fifty to a hundred miles, so that the range is really across the entire State, and the multitude is no innumerable that they have carried wide-spread destruction among the grain fields. The male attends the young during the middle of the day, the female returning toward evening to take charge. Only one egg was anywhere found in a nest. The incubation lasts about two weeks, and the young in a short time after are ruthlessly thrust out to take care of themselves, and develop so rapidly that few days suffice to give them full maturity.

Probably the sex changes alternately with each brood, as the process of hatching goes on continuously. Millions of the young perish, but it makes no appreciable difference in the number. The woods are alive with wolves, foxes and all the species of native carnivores, who feed to repletion without making any sensible reduction of the aggregate. Scores of hunters catch their thousands daily in nets — and bands of Indians are busy in drying and preparing other thousands as a supply for next winter's use. But all the shooting, netting, knocking from the trees with poles, and every form of destructive agency fails to make any sensible impression.

The scene in the night time is described as most remarkable. Innumerable flocks get benighted while off feeding, and, as they return, the roar of their wings through the forest is overwhelming. They pile upon each other literally in heaps, breaking the overburdened brambles, and precipitating multitudes from their perches upon the ground. The wild wings and the chatterings that fill the air as late as midnight, is truly appalling, while the odor arising from the countless dead and the droppings produce a stench almost intolerable.

The "flock," if that term is comprehensive enough, is moving northward, and will probably reach Lake Superior in June, when the "season" will close by return South, which generally takes place by way of Michigan. They probably actually make a great circuit, like the buffalo, from North to South and return. Any one curious to see this spectacle should take the cars to Kilbourne City, and follow up the east side of the Wisconsin river. The thousands sent to market are caught at points far distant from the herding grounds, so that the real locality is not generally known.

June 7, 1871. An enormous pigeon roost. A sight worth seeing in the Wisconsin Woods. Nashville Union and American 860: 3.

Big Pigeon Hunt by Professional Hunters in Tennessee

Big Pigeon Hunt by Professional Hunters

Three gentlemen of Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, Messrs. Charles Copelin, Frank Chickering and John J. Swartz, professional pigeon hunters, arrived in this city yesterday from Michigan, having followed a large body of wild pigeons from Grand Rapids, through Indiana and Kentucky to this State. They came by way of Cumberland Gap and are, we believe, the first professional pigeon hunters who ever came South in pursuit of their game.

Mr. Copelin remained in the city last night while the other two gentlemen went down the road to Ooltewah, a short distance from Chattanooga, in two miles of which place the pigeons are said to be roosting in large numbers.

The birds are taken in an enormous net, into which they are decoyed by a stool-pigeon, fastened there for the purpose. When caught, they are sent to New York for market, where they bring, on an average, $2.00 per dozen. It is a paying business in the Northwest, where they are caught in immense numbers. Sixty dozens are sometimes caught at one spring of the net. On an extraordinary occasion a train carried nine tons of these pigeons from Michigan to New York, which so flooded the market as to reduce the price to 75 cents per dozen.

October 26, 1871. Big pigeon hunt. Knoxville Daily Chronicle 2(148): 4.

Great Virginia Pigeon Roost

Sportsmen are now having an exciting time in Buckingham county, Va. A correspondent, writing under date of the 16th ult., describes the great "pigeon roost" on the old furnace lands near Canton. He says:

"The area of the roost is four square miles, and to one who never saw a sight of the kind it is truly amazing. From one hour of sun until night the air is darkened with countless thousands of the birds flying from all directions (south of the river) inward to the roost. There is a grandeur indescribable in the mournful sounds of rushing wings as the trackless armies, marshaled in the "viewless wind," come sweeping to their bivouac. But the evening sight is not to be compared to that of the morning when the pigeons are leaving the roost. Rising upwards from the bushes like columns of blue smoke, the rays of the morning sun paint them with rainbow tints, and a canopy overshadows the woods like the sulphurous clouds above the battlefield. Wheeling in great divisions in the air, they divide, each army to its leader, and the heavens grow lighter as they disappear to refill their craws with acorns."

February 24, 1872. [Great Virginia pigeon roost.] Charleston Daily News 11(1912): 2. Also: February 28, 1872 in Daily Phoenix issued at Columbia, S.C.; March 7, 1872 in Waynesboro Village Record 24(40): 2.

Wild Pigeon of California - Ectopistes Migratoria

The wild pigeon of the Pacific coast differs from its prototype, the passenger pigeon of the Atlantic States, only in being a larger bird, with a darker plumage. It is equally migratory in its habits, but never seen collectively in such large numbers as characterize the assemblages and migrations of the passenger pigeon in other parts of the world. A few hundreds at most, being as many as are ever seen together for any length of time in one place.

They are found in the foothills and lower mountains of the Sierra Nevada and Coast Range, principally in Autumn, at the season of the ripening of the madrone berries. Their food consisting of berries, the seeds of weeds and grasses, and grains. The California pigeon is remarkable for its symmetry of form, the extreme rapidity of its flight.

It propels itself by quickly repeated flappings of the wings, bringing these at ties closely to the body with firm strokes, and, before alighting, breaks the force of its flight by several rapid beats, as though fearing injury from coming too suddenly into contact with the object upon which it may desire to rest.

The male of this species has the throat, breast and sides brownish red; sometimes with a purplish tint, under parts of the body pale slate color or bluish white. Head blue; hind part and sides of neck changing to gold, green and bright crimson. Upper part of body blue; wing coverts marked with black spots; quills dark slate, almost black; tail feathers dark brown and blue. The female has a similar distribution of colors, but very much duller than the male.

The eastern pigeon, though not possessing the strength, size or weight of the California bird, is nevertheless capable of moving through the air at a rate of a mile a minute; and it has been killed in New York with its crop yet filled with rice collected from the fields of Georgia or South Carolina, which it must have left only five or six hours before. We say only, because as they digest their food rapidly, they must necessarily have travelled the distance within the time allowed, in order to have arrived with the rice still in its perfect, unsoftened state.

The shape of their body is oval, with a sharp pointed tail, admirably constructed for rapid evolutions, and also furnished with a pair of long wings, moved with large and powerful muscles. The rapidity with which this bird will pass through a wood is perfectly astonishing, threading its way among the closely-grown branches with unerring course, it flashes upon the sight like a meteor, and if gone from our gaze.

The flesh of the California pigeon is dark, but its juices are rich, and by many is much liked. The young, or squabs, as they are termed, are very tender and delicate, and much more esteemed as food than the adult birds. They generally select the tallest trees they can find to breed in, and as many as a hundred nests are often seen on a single tree. The conduct of the male at this time is much like that of the domestic pigeon, elevating and depressing the body, swelling out the throat, and expanding the tail, he moves around the timorous female, uttering the soft coo-coo-coo, so familiar to everybody who has ever been near a dovecote. They lay only two eggs, elliptical in form and pure white. They pigeon never nests at any great distance from water, to which it resorts several times during the day, and when it drinks immerses it bill up to the eyes, and remains until its thirst is satisfied.

May 4, 1872. Pacific Rural Press 3(18): 1. With an illustration.