Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/137

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107
Notes of a Vanished Industry

I bought from Dr. Slyfield 600 dozen at $1 per dozen, agreeing to pay only in one-hundred-dollar bills. He traveled two days to get twelve dozen to make up the shortage. The pigeons at that time wintered in southern Missouri and the Indian Nation, and were shot at night by natives and marketed in St. Louis. As they fed on pine-oak acorns, which tainted the meat, the market was poor and prices low. The traveling netters usually worked at something else while South.

The pigeons started north about the last of March, and usually located the last of May, according to weather. If food was plentiful they nested in large bodies; if not, they divided and nested in fewer numbers. In Wisconsin I have seen a continual nesting for 100 miles, with from one to possibly fifty nests on every oak scrub.

In Michigan usually the feeding grounds were across the straits, where blueberries were abundant, until fall, when the birds scattered back in small bodies, feeding on stubble and elm seed. Frequently they would go into a roosting place, and make it a home for weeks before leaving for the South. Traveling north, they usually flew until about ten or eleven in the morning and again in the evening. I have known of large quantities being drowned in Lake Huron, crossing from Canada on the way north, and have had lake captains tell me of passing for three hours through dead birds, which had been caught in a fog.