Friday, October 10, 2008

A little more passenger pigeon

"There will always be pigeons in books and museums, but these are effigies and images, dead to all hardships and to all delights. Book-pigeons can not dive out of a cloud to make the deer run for cover, or clap their wings in thunderous applause of mast-laden woods. Book-pigeons cannot breakfast on new-mown wheat in Minnesota, and dine on blueberries in Canada. They know no urge of seasons, no lash of wind and weather. They live forever by not living at all."
A. Leopold, 1947

In addition to contemporary accounts of the flock sizes two other pieces of information indicate the prodigious size of the passenger pigeon flocks. First, the number of towns in the US and Canada with 'Pigeon' in their name and secondly the fact that the Bishop of Quebec formally excommunicated the species because of its crop destruction, not once, but apparently several times in the 1600's. This would have been unusual but not unique, I know that leeches were excommunicated in the 1500's.

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