Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/90

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The Passenger Pigeon

as well as many of the other netters with whom we talked, believes that they breed during their absence in the South in the winter, asserting as proof of this that young birds in considerable numbers often accompany the earlier spring flights.

"Five weeks are consumed by a single nesting. Then the young are forced out of their nests by the old birds. Mr. Stevens has twice seen this done. One of the pigeons, usually the male, pushes the young off the nest by force. The latter struggles and squeals precisely like a tame squab, but is finally crowded out along the branch, and after further feeble resistance flutters down to the ground. Three or four days elapse before it is able to fly well. Upon leaving the nest it is often fatter and heavier than the old birds; but it quickly becomes much thinner and lighter, despite the enormous quantity of food it consumes.

"On one occasion an immense flock of young birds became bewildered in a fog while crossing Crooked Lake, and descending struck the water and perished by thousands. The shore for miles was covered a foot or more deep with them. The old birds rose above the fog, and none were killed.

"At least five hundred men were engaged in netting pigeons during the great Petoskey nesting of 1881. Mr. Stevens thought that they may have captured on the average 20,000 birds apiece during the season. Sometimes two carloads were shipped south on the railroad