Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/228

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195
The Pigeon in Manitoba

bred here, I remember no extensive breeding colonies in the province, and believe the great majority passed farther north to breed. About 1870 the decrease in their numbers was most pronouncedly manifest, this decline continuing until the early eighties, when they had apparently all disappeared, and I have seen only occasional birds since, and none of late years."

Mr. W. J. McLean, formerly of the Hudson's Bay Company and at present a resident of Winnipeg, sends me some valuable information, which supports my contention regarding the influence of food supply. He writes:

"I came to the Red River Settlement in 1860 and found the pigeons very plentiful on my arrival. The birds came in many thousands, and great numbers of them bred in the northeastern portion of the province through the district north of the Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake, where the cranberry and blueberry are abundant. These fruits constitute their chief food supply, as they remain on the bushes and retain much of their food properties until well on into the summer following their growth. They also feed largely on acorns wherever they abound. The decline began about the early seventies, and 1877 was the first year in which I encountered large flocks of them passing northwesterly from White Sand River near Fort Pelly. This was on a dull, drizzling day about the middle of May, and I presume they were then heading towards the Barren