Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/103

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Efforts to Check the Slaughter

beech nuts, is a prominent consideration in the selection of a nesting ground. As the feed in the vicinity of the nesting becomes exhausted, the birds are compelled to go daily farther and farther for food, even as high as seventy-five or one hundred miles, and these trips, which are taken twice a day, are known as the morning and evening flights.

The apparatus for the capture of wild pigeons consists of a net about six feet wide and twenty to thirty feet long. The operator first chooses the location for setting his net, which, it is needless to add, is in utter disregard of the State law, which prescribes certain limits within which nets must not be placed. A bed of a creek or low marshy spot is chosen, if possible at a natural salt lick, or a bed of muck, upon which the birds feed. The ground is cleared of grass and weeds, and to allure the birds the bed is "baited" with salt and sulphur several days before the net is to be placed. A bough house is made about twenty feet from the end of the bed, and all is ready for the net and its victims. A bird discovers the tempting spot, and with the instinct of the honey-bee, returns and brings several others, while these in turn bring a multitude, and in less than two days the bed is fairly blue with birds feeding on the seasoned muck.

The net is then set by an adjustment of ropes and a powerful spring pole, the net being laid along one side of the bed, and the operator retires to his bough house.