16 May 2014

Wild Pigeons History from Massachusetts

From the Hingham Gazette.

Large flocks of pigeons passed over this town, on Sunday and Monday last. Their course appeared to be, from an easterly to a westerly direction. The migrations of this species of birds, are not periodical, so far as we can discover, but are regulated alone by their means of obtaining subsistence. Nuttall says, they are found from Mexico to Hudson Bay, and as far west as the Rocky mountains, but are not known beyond these barriers. They do not emigrate on account of climate, their thick covering enabling them to endure the most severe cold. The rapidity of their flight is remarked by all ornithologists. It is supposed that they fly at the rate of a mile in a minute. The numbers of the flocks are without parallel in the history of the feathered race. Nearly the whole species in the continent are sometimes found together. Their general roosts are in the thickest forests where there is little underwood and the forest appears as if devastated by the whirlwind. In 1807, their breeding place was in Kentucky, near Shelbyville; it was forty miles in length by 3 in breadth, where they collected by millions. After occupying this place for several years, they removed to the banks of Green River, in that State, where they assembled in immense numbers. Wilson, the ornithologist counted 99 nests in a single tree, and the forest was filled with them. It is said that so great is the fecundity of this bird, that from a single pair, fifteen thousand may be produced in four years. Nuttall relates and account given by Hon. T.H. Perkins, as follows.

"About the year 1708, while he was passing through New Jersey, near Newark, the flocks continued to pass at least two hours without cessation; and he learnt from the neighboring inhabitants, that descending upon a large pond to drink, those in the rear alighting upon the backs of the first that arrived (in the usual order of their movements on land to feed) pressed them beneath the surface, so that tens of thousands were thus drowned. They were likewise killed in great numbers, at the roost, with clubs."

Notwithstanding the immense numbers destroyed by birds of prey and by man, still no diminution of their numbers is perceptible.

April 10, 1832. Wild pigeons. Rhode Island American and Gazette 3(75): 1.