Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/220

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The Pigeon in Manitoba

to preserve in history's archives any material amount of specific information.

The early settlers landing upon the Atlantic coast between Newfoundland and the Carolinas found them in possession of armies of great auks, and the few scraps of authenticated history which we now possess disclose a most iniquitous course of wanton slaughter and destruction which ended in the complete extinction of the bird over sixty years ago. Yet in the face of this destruction there remain but four mounted specimens and two eggs in the collections of North America to-day, while but seventy skins remain in the collections of the entire world.

If possible, more ruthless and inhuman was the carnage waged against the noble buffalo, the countless thousands of which roaming over virgin prairies excited the wonder and amazement of the entire sporting and scientific world, and which, to-day, are represented only in the zoological parks, where all individuality will eventually be lost in domestication.

Coincident almost with the passing of the buffalo we have to record the decline and fall of the Passenger Pigeon, a bird which aroused the excitement and wonder of the entire world during the first half of the last century because of its phenomenal numbers; a bird also which stood out unique in character and individuality among the 300 described pigeons of the world and which won the admiration of every ornithologist who