15 May 2014

Spring Reports of Wild Pigeons in 1803

On Saturday and Sunday last, the attention of the inhabitants of this vicinity was arrested by the flights of numerous and very extensive flocks of wild or wood pigeons; they passed from south to the north and appeared to those who were immediately under them, as sundry times, for several successive minutes, to almost exclude the sky. About thirteen years since, a similar flight of these birds of passage was noticed : the ensuing summer was then very sickly. With the great and pious Dr. Samuel Johnson, we would neither blindly admit or rashly reject an attention to these imaginary or real omens. It is man's wisdom to prepare for adversity by penitence for past sin and to meet it with resignation to the Divine Will. It is recorded for our instruction, that when God saw that the repentant Ninevites returned from the evil of their ways, he repented of the evil, that he said he would do unto them and did it not.

March 28, 1803. [Flights of numerous flocks of wild pigeons.] Brattleboro Reporter 1(6): 3.

Baltimore, March 28.

The immense flights of pidgeons over this city Thursday and Friday, from the north-east to the south-west, afforded fine sport to our city gunners. The park and other neighbouring patches of wood, were filled with sportsmen — and the incessant popping of their fowling pieces had no small resemblance to a skirmish among infantry. The field was finally cleared of pidgeons after nearly 2 days hard shooting; the number of slain we have not heard, but it is supposed to have amounted to some thousands.

How fine a theme would this have been for Shakespeare's Jaques to moralize upon. We hope the same equinoxial gale which has driven back the poor pidgeons to their winter quarters, may not have overtaken the unfortunate mariner and occasioned as fine sport for the sharks of the ocean, as for the gunners of our city.

March 30, 1803. New York Evening Post 425: 5. From the Baltimore Gazette. Also: Poulson's American Daily Advertiser 32(8206): 2 on March 31, 1803; April 6, 1803 in Maryland Herald.

[Many Pidgeons Flew Over Philadelphia.]

A few days since many pidgeons flew over this city! Had we seen all those that flew in the night, 'tis supposed there would have been as many again as their actually were!

April 12, 1803. Philadelphia Gazette of the United States 23(3281): 3. Also: April 8, 1803 in Baltimore Republican; May 3, 1803 in Farmer's Literary Gazette 10(526): 3.