Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/128

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The Passenger Pigeon

This may be set down as accurate or nearly so, and 1,500,000 will cover the total destruction of birds by net, gun and Indians. The total number of nesting and not over fifty barrels of these ever reached a market, the Indians smoking the remainder for winter use. No one knows how many birds 1,500,000 are until they see them, and handle a few. As an illustration: To buy and sell 125,000 birds in four months, it took myself, two men and a boy all our time, working from daylight until after dark every day.

I doubt if there were a billion birds in all the Crooked and Maple nestings. I am certain that there were not at any one time. I am also certain that more than double as many young birds left those nestings than all the birds caught, killed or destroyed. The morning that the Crooked nesting broke, I was out at daylight, and at the net to see and help one of my men make a strike; for an hour and a half a continuous body of birds half a mile wide and very thick was going out; our strike was twenty-nine dozen, twenty-five dozen young and four dozen old, about the same proportion as the other catchers. This showed that of the immense body over five-sixths were young birds, barely old enough ones remaining to guide the body of young, and this was out of the nesting from which the bulk of the birds had been caught, where the destruction had been the greatest. When it is considered that the