Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/67

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As James Fenimore Cooper Saw It

"The fluttering was incessant, and often startling as we passed ahead, our march producing a movement in the living crowd, that really became confounding. Every tree was literally covered with nests, many having at least a thousand of these frail tenements on their branches, and shaded by the leaves. They often touched each other, a wonderful degree of order prevailing among the hundreds of thousands of families that were here assembled.

"The place had the odor of a fowl-house, and squabs just fledged sufficiently to trust themselves in short flights, were fluttering around us in all directions, in tens of thousands. To these were to be added the parents of the young race endeavoring to protect them and guide them in a way to escape harm. Although the birds rose as we approached, and the woods just around us seemed fairly alive with pigeons, our presence produced no general commotion; every one of the feathered throng appearing to be so much occupied with its own concerns, as to take little heed of the visit of a party of strangers, though of a race usually so formidable to their own.

"The masses moved before us precisely as a crowd of human beings yields to a pressure or a danger on any given point; the vacuum created by its passage filling in its rear as the water of the ocean flows into the track of the keel.

"The effect on most of us was confounding, and I