Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/168

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Recollection of "Old Timers"

rail fence. Carefully the gun is raised and aimed; the trigger is pressed. "Ker-whang" in a cloud of smoke is the loud report. The old cock, startled, flies away. "Missed him, by gosh!" is the boy's lament as he starts to reload, whilst in unison with the rattle of the grains of powder in the flask, there comes drifting down on the morning breeze, slowly wafting here and there, a long tail feather from that noble bird to show that though missed, yet the aim was true.

Yours truly,

Ben O. Bush.

Kalamazoo, Mich., June 17th, 1905.

Dear Mershon:

Do not understand me as to my assertion, that in nesting time the wild pigeons in feeding, the males always alternate with the females, each having a day off and a day on throughout the period of incubation and the rearing of the young. It depended upon the amount of food and the distance that they had to go to get it, and they changed their habit according to the conditions. If they had to make a long flight, as was the case when they passed over here, then they alternated; but I will agree with you that their habit in nesting time when food was plenty and not far away, was for the males to sit first in the morning, then the females, and sometimes the males a second time, all in the same day. Pigeons require a great deal of water, and sometimes their crops