Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/43

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The Passenger Pigeon

all sides from morning to night. Wagon loads of them are poured into market, where they sell from fifty to twenty-five and even twelve cents per dozen; and pigeons become the order of the day at dinner, breakfast and supper, until the very name becomes sickening. When they have been kept alive and fed for some time on corn and buckwheat their flesh acquires great superiority; but, in their common state, they are dry and blackish and far inferior to the full grown young ones or squabs.

The nest of the wild pigeon is formed of a few dry slender twigs, carelessly put together, and with so little concavity that the young one, when half grown, can easily be seen from below. The eggs are pure white. Great numbers of hawks, and sometimes the bald eagle himself, hover above those breeding places, and seize the old or the young from the nest amidst the rising multitudes, and with the most daring effrontery. The young, when beginning to fly, confine themselves to the under part of the tall woods where there is no brush, and where nuts and acorns are abundant, searching among the leaves for mast, and appear like a prodigious torrent rolling through the woods, every one striving to be in the front. Vast numbers of them are shot while in this situation. A person told me that he once rode furiously into one of these rolling multitudes and picked up thirteen pigeons which had been trampled to death by his horse's feet. In a few minutes they will