Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/246

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Nesting Habits of the Pigeon

will now never be known, but they were found to continue in flocks in Virginia, Kentucky and even Tennessee.

. . . In the latter part of April or early May the birds began nesting. The nest building beginning as soon as the birds had selected a woods for a rookery, the scene was one of great activity. Birds were flying in every direction in search of twigs for their platform nests, and it did seem that each pair was intent on securing materials at a distance from the structure. Many twigs were dropped in flying, or at the nest, and these were never reclaimed by their bearers, but were often picked up by other birds from another part of the rookery. This peculiarity in so many species of birds in nest building I could never understand.

It takes a pair of pigeons from four to six days to complete a nest, and any basketmaker could do a hundred per cent. better job with the same materials in a couple of hours. In the nest of the pigeon, man could certainly give the birds points for their benefit, for it is one of the most shiftless structures placed in trees that I have met with.

The nest is always composed of slender dead twigs, so far as I have observed, or ever learned from others, and in comparison, though smaller, much resembles some of the heron's structures. In some nests I have observed the materials are so loosely put together that the egg or young bird can be seen through the