18 May 2014

Great Wild Pigeon Roost in Missouri

Pigeons have come into this part of the county by millions. Of evenings the sky is blackened with them in the neighborhood of Dr. Dodson's on the Auglaize. They have made Dodson's farm their headquarters, and at night the trees and underbrush are loaded down with multitudes. A little before sundown large armies of pigeons are seen coming from different points of the compass, but each army passes onward as if they intended to change their roosting place. After a while they return and settle on the trees around the roost, but many of them nearer than a mile of the place. They made sudden flights from these trees, and the sound of their wings is like that of a great storm. There is a constant roaring in the air as myriads of the birds fly to and fro. About dark they fly toward the roost, and for a long time they fly round and round, and have the appearance of bees swarming, although the vast number and the tornado-like roaring they make surpasses anything in the power of man to describe. After a while they alight on the trees and bushes, and the limbs are bent downward, often are broken off.

The pigeons keep up a constant chattering, which can be heard for miles away. They are never still during the night. So far as sleep is concerned, such a thing is out of the question with a pigeon. They are disturbed by themselves — each throngs assembling in a spot that none can be still for a moment, and the incessant discharging of firearms among them causes them to change their location almost constantly. This roost is visited every night by crowds of men, some with guns and others with poles, which they use in threshing down the pigeons that happen to be at the point stuck.

Hundreds are killed every night; but when light appears the vast armies again go forth with apparently as much vigor as ever. Pigeons have been killed in New York with indigested rice in their crops, which they had evidently gathered in the rice fields in the Carolinas. From these and other circumstances it has been estimated that a pigeons flies at the rate of a mile a minute.

Imagine them, millions upon millions of these birds all on the wing at the same time, over a scope of country and more than two miles square, and a faint idea of the noise they make may be obtained. But no one can ever imagine what a pigeon roost is, or how much noise they make, until one is seen and heard.

There is an abundance of mast here now, and we suppose the pigeons will remain here until it is all gone. One curious circumstance that in the neighborhood of this pigeon roost we never see a pigeon from the time they leave of mornings until they return of evenings. They are not eating the mast here at all, but somewhere they are all feasting luxuriantly, for they are all fat.

November 17, 1876. A great pigeon roost. Vermont Farmer 6(50): 2. Also: November 23, 1876 in Elk County Advocate; November 23, 2876 in Indiana Democrat 15(29): 4 as from the Southland, Ma. Rustic.