19 May 2014

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.