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ing alternately from one part of the same country to another, as induced by the weather. The curlew passes the winter in the vicinity of the sea; but in spring repairs regularly to the hilly country, where it passes the summer in incubation and rearing its young. At the end of summer these birds are seen again repairing in groups of three or four families to their winter quarters upon the shores. Two or three species of gulls also leave the sea, and on the approach of stormy weather take up their abode in the lakes of the interior parts of the country, Those birds that are observed far from land may also be termed wanderers; scarcely a ship crosses the Atlantic, in which the sailors do not see some of them perching upon the rigging: it is to be regretted that men of this calling seldom possess curiosity in a degree proportioned to their opportunity of grati. fying it, otherwise the history of birds of passage might have derived much illustration from their remarks.
In the migration of many birds there are peculiarities worthy of our notice. Some emigrate from a country to which they never again return; and of this we have a remarkable instance in the magpie. It is not above seventy years since a single indivi. dual of that species was seen in Ireland. At that period, they seem to have made a partial migration from Scotland; but they are at present as numerous in the former as in the latter country. The same spirit of colonization has been remarked among the woodlarks; some districts of the country being now frequented by them, where they formerly never appeared. It is observable, that some migratory birds leave a country one year, in which they are stationary in another Thus the common wild duck remains in Sweden during a temperate winter, but emigrates in a severe one. This arises from a very urgent motive, the want of food; and from the same cause, it is probable that the wild goose, which in Sweden is only a summer bird, is stationary in the
their obser from that of this course its seat of
north of Scotland. The skylark is permanent the whole year in Scotland, although it is a bird of passage in Minorca: in England also the snipe is migratory, but stationary in Scotland.
Some birds migrate in quest of a particular kind of crop. · In Cuba, the rice-bird is found in prodigious numbers during the season of that crop: the rice is no sooner gathered, than it removes to Carolina, and meets the harvest in that country, where it in like manner remains till the rice season is past. It is to be remarked also of this and several other species of birds, that the male and female separate during the time of migration. Of the rice-bird we are informed, that it is only the females that migrate to Carolina. In Sweden, a species of duck also is found, of which the males leave the country at the time of incubation, and do not return till the pairing season. A further peculiarity in some migratory birds, is their observing a different route while going to winter quarters from that by which they return. The only certain example of this is the pigeon of passage in North America. In its course from Canada to Carolina, the former of which is its seat of breeding, it perches upon the trees in Virginia during the night. Many of the branches are found broken to the ground by the weight of the immense multitudes that light upon them; a circumstance which marks their route to the people of the interior country, who support themselves by killing them. By this means their progress may be traced with great facility from morning till night, during their whole journey; but in their return to Canada, in spring, their track is altogether unknown.
The migrations of the passenger pigeon (observes Mr. Wilson, in his American Ornithology) appear to be undertaken rather in quest of food than to avoid the cold of the climate, since we find them lingering in the northern regions around Hudson's Bay so late as December; and since their appearance is so casual and irregular, sometimes not visiting certain districts
for several years in any considerable numbers, while at other times they are innumerable. I have witnessed these migrations in the Genessee country, often in Pennsylvania, and also in various parts of Virginia, with amazement; but all that I then saw of them were mere straggling parties, when compared with the congregated millions which I have since beheld in our western forests, in the states of Ohio, Kentucky, and the Indiana territory. These fertile and extensive regions abound with the nutritious beech nuts, which constitute the chief food of the wild pigeon. In seasons when these nuts are abundant, corresponding multitudes of pigeons may be confidently expected. It sometimes happens, that, having consumed the whole produce of the beech trees in an extensive district, they discover another at the distance perhaps of sixty or eighty miles, to which they regularly repair every morning, and return as regularly in the course of the day or in the evening to their place of general rendezvous, or, as it is usually called, the roosting-place. These roosting-places are always in the woods, and sometimes occupy a large extent of forest. When they have frequented one of these places for some time, the appearance it exhibits is surprising.
* The ground is covered to the depth of several inches with their dung; all the tender grass and underwood destroyed; the surface strewed with large limbs of trees, broken down by the weight of the birds clustering one above another; the trees themselves, for thousands of acres, killed as completely as if smitten with an axe. The marks of this desolation remain for many years on the spot; and numerous places could be pointed out where, for several years after, scarcely a single vegetable had made its appearance.
When these roosts are first discovered, the inhabitants from considerable distances visit them in the night with guns, clubs, long poles, pots of sulphur, and various other engincs of destruction. In a few
extend in generalistern countei former inssion.
hours they fill many sacks, and load their horses with them. By the Indians, a pigeon-roost, or breeding place, is considered an important source of national profit and dependance for that season, and all their active ingenuity is exercised on the occasion. The breeding-place differs from the former in its greater extent. In the western countries, above mentioned, these are generally in the beech woods, and often extend in nearly a straight line across the country for an immense way. Not far from Shelbyville, in the state of Kentucky, about five years ago, there was one of these breeding-places, which stretched through the woods in nearly a north and south direction, was several miles in breadth, and was said to be upwards of forty miles in length. The pigeons made their first appearance there about the 10th of April, and left it altogether, with their young, before the 25th of May.
"As soon as the young were fully grown, and before they left their nests, numerous parties of the inhabitants, from all parts of the adjacent country, came with waggons, axes, beds, cooking utensils, many of them accompanied by the greater part of their families, and encamped for several days at this immense nursery. Several of them informed me that the noise in the woods was so great as to terrify their horses, and that it was difficult for one person to hear another speak without bawling in his ear. The ground was strewed with broken limbs of trees, eggs, and young squab pigeons, which had been precipitated from above, on which herds of hogs were fattening. Hawks, buzzards, and eagles, were sailing about in great numbers, and seizing the squabs from their nests at pleasure; while from twenty feetupwards, to the tops of the trees, the view through the woods presented a perpetual tumult of crowding and fluttering multitudes of pigeons: their wings, roaring like thunder, mingled with the frequent crash of falling timber; for now the axemen were at work cutting down those trees that seemed to be most
crowded with nests, and contrived to fell them in such a manner, that in their descent they might bring down several others, by which means the falling of one large tree sometimes produced two hundred squabs, little inferior in size to the old ones, and almost one mass of fat. On some single trees upwards of one hundred nests were found, each containing one young bird only, a circumstance in the history of this bird not generally known to naturalists. It was dangerous to walk under these flying and fluttering millions, from the frequent fall of large branches, broken down by the weight of the multitude above, and which in their descent often destroyed numbers of the birds themselves.
When Mr. Wilson was in this part, he saw the remains of the vast aviary he has described, but the pigeons were then settled about eighty miles off, near Green River; and his own observation of their daily flight in search of food, and return, confirms the most exaggerated report of their incalculable multitude. For many hours the living torrent poured over head, as thick as the birds could crowd together, and as far as the eye could see. The breadth of the body was also very considerable-several miles, as was also their new breeding-place. It was said to be in Green County, and that the young began to fly about the middle of March. On the 17th of April, forty-nine miles beyond Danville, and not far from Green River (continues Mr. Wilson), I crossed this same breeding-place, where the nests, for more than three miles, spotted every tree: the leaves not being yet out, I had a fair prospect of them, and was really astonished at their numbers. A few bodies of pigeons lingered yet in different parts of the woods, the roaring of whose wings was heard in various quarters around me.
• All accounts agree in stating, that each nest contains only one young squab. These are so extremely fat, that the Indians, and many of the whites, are accustomed to melt down the fat for domestic pur