Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/89

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The Passenger Pigeon

a sound resembling the croaking of wood frogs. Their combined clamor can be heard 4 or 5 miles away when the atmospheric conditions are favorable. Two eggs are usually laid, but many nests contain only one. Both birds incubate, the females between 2 o'clock P.M. and 9 o'clock or 10 o'clock the next morning; the males from 9 or 10 o'clock A.M. to 2 o'clock P.M. The males feed twice each day, namely, from daylight to about 8 o'clock A.M. and again late in the afternoon. The females feed only during the forenoon. The change is made with great regularity as to time, all the males being on the nest by 10 o'clock A.M.

"During the morning and evening no females are ever caught by the netters; during the forenoon no males. The sitting bird does not leave the nest until the bill of its incoming mate nearly touches its tail, the former slipping off as the latter takes it place.

"Thus the eggs are constantly covered, and but few are ever thrown out despite the fragile character of the nests and the swaying of the trees in the high winds. The old birds never feed in or near the nesting, leaving all the beech mast, etc., there for their young. Many of them go 100 miles each day for food. Mr. Stevens is satisfied that pigeons continue laying and hatching during the entire summer. They do not, however, use the same nesting place a second time in one season, the entire colony always moving from 20 to 100 miles after the appearance of each brood of young. Mr. Stevens,