Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/54

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The Passenger Pigeon

It is extremely interesting to see flock after flock performing exactly the same evolutions which had been traced as it were in the air by a preceding flock. Thus, should a hawk have charged on a group at a certain spot, the angles, curves and undulations that have been described by the birds, in their efforts to escape from the dreaded talons of the plunderer, are undeviatingly followed by the next group that comes up. Should the bystander happen to witness one of these affrays, and, struck with the rapidity and elegance of the motions exhibited, feel desirous of seeing them repeated, his wishes will be gratified if he only remain in the place until the next group comes up.

It may not, perhaps, be out of place to attempt an estimate of the number of pigeons contained in one of those mighty flocks, and of the quantity of food daily consumed by its members. The inquiry will tend to show the astonishing beauty of the great Author of Nature in providing for the wants of His creatures. Let us take a column of one mile in breadth, which is far below the average size, and suppose it passing over us without interruption for three hours, at the rate mentioned above of one mile in a minute. This will give a parallelogram of one hundred and eighty by one, covering one hundred and eighty square miles. Allowing two pigeons to the square yard, we have one billion, one hundred and fifty millions, one hundred and thirty-six thousand pigeons in one flock. As every