Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/66

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42
The Passenger Pigeon

tain, were used to strike them to the earth. . . . So prodigious was the number of the birds, that the scattering fire of the guns, with the hurtling missiles, and the cries of the boys, had no other effect than to break off small flocks from the immense masses that continued to dart along the valley, as if the whole of the feathered tribe were pouring through that one pass. None pretended to collect the game, which lay scattered over the fields in such profusion as to cover the very ground with the fluttering victims."

The slaughter described finally ended with a grand finale when an old swivel gun was "loaded with handsful of bird-shot," and fired into the mass of pigeons with such fatal effect that there were birds enough killed and wounded on the ground to feed the whole settlement.

The following description is from "The Chain-bearer," also by J. Fenimore Cooper. The region of which he writes is in Central New York.

"I scarce know how to describe the remarkable scene. As we drew near to the summit of the hill, pigeons began to be seen fluttering among the branches over our heads, as individuals are met along the roads that lead into the suburbs of a large town. We had probably seen a thousand birds glancing around among the trees, before we came in view of the roost itself. The numbers increased as we drew nearer, and presently the forest was alive with them.