Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/250

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215
Nesting Habits of the Pigeon

increase. If the pigeon deposited ten to twenty eggs like the quail the unequal battle of equal survival might be kept up. But even this is to be doubted if the bird continues to nest in colonies.

Many ornithological writers have written that the wild pigeon lays two eggs as a rule, but these men were evidently not accurate observers, and probably took their records at second-hand. There is no doubt that two eggs are quite often found in a nest, and sometimes these eggs are both fresh, or else equally advanced in incubation. But these instances, I think, are evidences alone that two females have deposited in the same nest, a supposition which is not improbable with the gregarious species.

That the wild pigeon may rear two or three young in a season, I do not doubt, and an old trapper and observer has offered this theory to explain the condition where there are found both egg and young in the same nest, or squabs of widely varied ages. He asserts that when an egg is about ready to hatch, a second egg was deposited in the nest, and that the squab assisted in incubating the egg when the old birds were both away for food, and that in time a third and last egg was laid, so that three young were hatched each season, if the birds are unmolested.

This peculiarity may exist with the pigeon, but I can add nothing to further it from my own observations, except to record the finding of an egg in the nest with