Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/74

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The Passenger Pigeon

ever varying in hue; and as the mighty stream, sweeping on at sixty miles an hour, reached some deep valley, it would pour its living mass headlong down hundreds of feet, sounding as though a whirlwind was abroad in the land. I have stood by the grandest waterfall of America and regarded the descending torrents in wonder and astonishment, yet never have my astonishment, wonder, and admiration been so stirred as when I have witnessed these birds drop from their course like meteors from heaven.

While feeding, they always have guards on duty, to give alarm of danger. It is made by the watch-bird as it takes its flight, beating its wings together in quick succession, sounding like the rolling beat of a snare drum. Quick as thought each bird repeats the alarm with a thundering sound, as the flock struggles to rise, leading a stranger to think a young cyclone is then being born.

. . . About the middle of May, 1850, while in the fur trade, I was camping on the head waters of the Manistee River in Michigan. One morning on leaving my wigwam I was startled by hearing a gurgling, rumbling sound, as though an army of horses laden with sleigh bells was advancing through the deep forests towards me. As I listened more intently I concluded that instead of the tramping of horses it was distant thunder; and yet the morning was clear, calm and beautiful. Nearer and nearer came the strange com-