The Rite of Passenger Pidgeons

The Rite of Passenger Pidgeons

Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:43 am

How can I miss a species that went extinct before I was born?
How can I limit myself to missing just one?
What would it mean if the playa were to be over-flown by one of those billions-strong flocks that would cover the sun for hours?
What would "leave no trace" mean for that year's event?
And what of the Dodo?

I have no project, just a hole in my heart. And when I started to write this I discovered that the pun isn't as natural as a thought, we are talking two different words, despite their being so close to each other.
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Postby Fire_Moose » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:09 am

why do people add a "D" to pigeon?

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Postby Da Mule » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:34 am

omiimii
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Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Oct 14, 2010 2:44 pm

Fire_Moose wrote:why do people add a "D" to pigeon?

In my case, it's probably a combo of poor spelling skills and an interest in language offshoots. I probably misspelt "language" too, tha'ts another tricky one.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:02 pm

Is "D" a passing grade where you come from hippie?

I don't think so, mister.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:45 pm

*looks around very confused*
Who ya calling mister?

Dang this thread is degenerating fast.
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Postby ygmir » Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:08 pm

you are what you eat.......
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:09 pm

Bread crumbs?

Coo. Coo. Coooo....
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Postby Elorrum » Thu Oct 14, 2010 5:19 pm

I think a rite of passage means you can't reverse and go back to the way it was before.

I do not advocate extinction.
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Postby Elorrum » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:35 am

Fire_Moose wrote:why do people add a "D" to pigeon?

What are the Brits up to?


Walter Pidgeon made it famous
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:46 am

This, too, shall pass.
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Postby geospyder » Fri Oct 15, 2010 12:55 pm

Very interesting book. Read it many years ago.

The Silent Sky: The Incredible Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon
1965 by Allen Eckert

This book, a nature novel, by following the hatching and lifetime experiences of the bird that ultimately became the last wild passenger pigeon known to have existed, chronicles the life, natural history and incredible extinction of the passenger pigeon which, at one time, was the most abundant bird in North America. In early times, four out of every five birds on this entire continent were passenger pigeons, with numerous huge flocks and each of these flocks having sometimes in the tens of millions of birds. One such migrating flock, estimated to be a quarter-mile wide and 20 to 50 birds in depth, stretched all the way from Louisiana to the Ohio River at Evansville, Indiana. Yet, in a few short decades, man had wiped out the species; the last wild bird being killed in 1900 and the last captive bird dying in 1914. Originally published in hardcover in 1965 by Little, Brown & Co., Boston, Mass.; later in both hardcover and trade paperback by Landfall Press. After being out of print for several years, this book has recently been reprinted in a softcover books-on-demand format by iUniverse.com, Lincoln, NE,
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Postby Eric » Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:41 pm

geospyder wrote:chronicles the life, natural history and incredible extinction of the passenger pigeon which, at one time, was the most abundant bird in North America.


You should also know that there's been a world of study since 1965, and there is a very strong field of experts who think that the abundance of the pigeon was due to the post-contact loss of millions of Native Americans. Middens show very few pigeon bones pre-contact, but once the Europeans arrive and the diseases start wiping out the locals there's no longer competition for the food resources- less Native Americans= more pigeons.

I can dig up the cites if needed. I'm not sure where the book is right now, but "1491" by Charles Mann gives a good synthesis of current trends in pre-contact archaeology & anthropology in a very readable style.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:48 pm

Just passenger pigeons? Why not all birds and game animals?
Accounts of the SF Bay Area during the early years - when there were plenty of Indians around - speak of enormous clouds of birds from horizon to horizon. The Indians were not such efficient hunters that they could make a dent in that.

Image

Later folk went out in little boats called punts and hunted with ginormous shotguns called punt guns.

Image
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Postby ygmir » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:52 pm

Ugly Dougly wrote:Just passenger pigeons? Why not all birds and game animals?
Accounts of the SF Bay Area during the early years - when there were plenty of Indians around - speak of enormous clouds of birds from horizon to horizon. The Indians were not such efficient hunters that they could make a dent in that.

Image

Later folk went out in little boats called punts and hunted with ginormous shotguns called punt guns.

Image


so, they'd be the "men in the boat" called a punt, with a gun?..........

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Postby Ugly Dougly » Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:03 pm

Me too. Help, Simon!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punt

;)
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Postby Eric » Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:13 pm

Ugly Dougly wrote:Just passenger pigeons? Why not all birds and game animals?


It wasn't just passenger pigeons, that was just what was being talked about in the post I responded to. The famous herds of buffalo from horizon to horizon are also thought to be symptomatic of the population collapse, and, even though I haven't read anything specific to the Bay Area, I would bet it was symptomatic as well.

What you have to remember is that the tribes were decimated by disease in some cases decades before white settlers reached them- disease travels faster than a person through a population. Hernan De Soto's famous trek across what is now the southern states & lower great plains doesn't mention buffalo under any description, but mentions people everywhere. Within a hundred years there were almost no people and buffalo were the dominant animal in the region. Why? Because the locals that had used the resources and kept the populations in check were gone- the buffalo expanded into their areas.

Your assertion that the native Americans were "not such efficient hunters" also shows a cultural bias- they used & managed their environment differently than Europeans, but they were no less successful, and in many cases more successful. The New England colonists would have perished without the assistance of the locals, who knew how to use the local environment for maximum yield.

The populations that were left when the Europeans showed up further inland were decimated remnants of a society- it's like saying the people of San Francisco in May of 1906 didn't know how to build houses and only lived in hovels while not acknowledging they had just had their society knocked out from under them and were trying to survive with what they had left. A lot of the cultural knowledge of the tribes died when the elders did, the people left had to figure out how to do things from scratch, all while forming new societies with the remnants of other surviving tribes.

I'm not saying they were happy hippies in harmony with the land- they manipulated it and controlled it as much as Europeans controlled their landscape, they just had different goals and controlled it in different ways. When they were no longer there, animal and plant populations took over the areas they were formerly dominant in.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:34 pm

Ugly Dougly wrote:Just passenger pigeons? Why not all birds and game animals?

Because of the failed pun. Not only do I have no objection to including them in my non-project, I actually was inspired by the fact that unlike my childhood, they are making plastic dodos. I had to have them. So historically man-made extinctions were on my mind.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:35 pm

Eric wrote:I can dig up the cites if needed. I'm not sure where the book is right now, but "1491" by Charles Mann gives a good synthesis of current trends in pre-contact archaeology & anthropology in a very readable style.

This book I've read and enjoyed. I even passed on my copy to someone who still has it.
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Postby geospyder » Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:32 pm

1491 sounds very interesting. I'm going to have to pick up a copy.
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Postby unjonharley » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:45 pm

geospyder wrote:1491 sounds very interesting. I'm going to have to pick up a copy.


Wounder if I can down load it to my reader?
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Postby Elorrum » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:26 pm

Eric wrote: Middens show very few pigeon bones pre-contact, but once the Europeans arrive and the diseases start wiping out the locals there's no longer competition for the food resources- less Native Americans= more pigeons.


It just occurred to me that I wasn't sure how the native Americans would catch and eat these pigeons. Few bones in middens pre-contact then. And the population of Indians and competition for food on the relatively small prairies scared the pigeons away from the grass seed there? I'm sure the authors of the cites have taken it into consideration. Just spinning off a few thoughts. Do you think that perhaps the lack of shotguns in Native Americans hunting arsenal made the pigeons hard to eat in quantity?

o.k. and edit to add... "passenger>???" what do they ride? what is the origin of this name?

slaughtering the herbivores most likely made a greater impact on increasing the food source for pigeons...
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Postby Eric » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:33 pm

Elorrum wrote:It just occurred to me that I wasn't sure how the native Americans would catch and eat these pigeons.


There are actually reports from early settlers (post-contact, obviously) on how the Native Americans in the New York area did it. I don't have the book near me so I can't give you the details. I seem to remember it involved nets (speculation on my part since I don't have the references at hand)- but this is after the pigeon population had boomed due to the aforementioned population loss.

There are many ways to kill animals that don't involve guns- look at human history up to the last, oh, 250 years or so when guns became more common. Lots of critters, some quite large, killed, no guns involved.
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Postby unjonharley » Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:33 am

Eric wrote:
Elorrum wrote:It just occurred to me that I wasn't sure how the native Americans would catch and eat these pigeons.


There are actually reports from early settlers (post-contact, obviously) on how the Native Americans in the New York area did it. I don't have the book near me so I can't give you the details. I seem to remember it involved nets (speculation on my part since I don't have the references at hand)- but this is after the pigeon population had boomed due to the aforementioned population loss.

There are many ways to kill animals that don't involve guns- look at human history up to the last, oh, 250 years or so when guns became more common. Lots of critters, some quite large, killed, no guns involved.



The Great Planes Native drove/herd large animal off cliffs.. For food and fur for winters.. The hide hunters followed suit to save having to shoot so many.. They were pigs and wiped the whole herd out..
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Postby Snow » Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:16 am

I wonder what they tasted like?
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Postby theCryptofishist » Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:36 am

Eric wrote:
Elorrum wrote:It just occurred to me that I wasn't sure how the native Americans would catch and eat these pigeons.


There are actually reports from early settlers (post-contact, obviously) on how the Native Americans in the New York area did it. I don't have the book near me so I can't give you the details. I seem to remember it involved nets (speculation on my part since I don't have the references at hand)- but this is after the pigeon population had boomed due to the aforementioned population loss.

I would guess nets as well. I read a book about early man which suggested that net hunting including the entire tribe was probably a very common way of gathering protein pre-neolithic revolution. Nets just don't survive a few thousand years in the ground as readily as spearheads. I can remember sometime in the past couple dozen years reading about the French tradition of capturing birds with nets for food, while the birds were migrating between Europe and Africa (and what effect that was having on the population of said birds.)
They could also have eaten the eggs.
And small bird bones might or might not survive in midden heaps; soil chemistry would be just one factor.
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Postby unjonharley » Sat Oct 16, 2010 10:31 am

theCryptofishist wrote:
Eric wrote:
Elorrum wrote:It just occurred to me that I wasn't sure how the native Americans would catch and eat these pigeons.


There are actually reports from early settlers (post-contact, obviously) on how the Native Americans in the New York area did it. I don't have the book near me so I can't give you the details. I seem to remember it involved nets (speculation on my part since I don't have the references at hand)- but this is after the pigeon population had boomed due to the aforementioned population loss.

I would guess nets as well. I read a book about early man which suggested that net hunting including the entire tribe was probably a very common way of gathering protein pre-neolithic revolution. Nets just don't survive a few thousand years in the ground as readily as spearheads. I can remember sometime in the past couple dozen years reading about
the French tradition of capturing birds with nets for food, while the birds were migrating between Europe and Africa (and what effect that was having on the population of said birds.)
They could also have eaten the eggs.
And small bird bones might or might not survive in midden heaps; soil chemistry would be just one factor.



The native Am. also use a trap.. Simple, dig a tunnel at a few degrees and bait it.. Birds can not walk backwards.
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Postby dragonfly Jafe » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:21 am

...probably more to do with disruption of nesting grounds (thus cutting down on birth rates) than hunting of mature birds...
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Postby Eric » Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:43 pm

dragonfly Jafe wrote:...probably more to do with disruption of nesting grounds (thus cutting down on birth rates) than hunting of mature birds...


Passenger pigeons lived in huge colonies- there's a report of one near the end of their existence that was 250,000 birds strong. That colony was hunted at a rate of 50,000 birds a day- wiping out the entire colony in a week.

This level of hunting was common with them. There was no need to disrupt the nesting grounds.
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Postby junglesmacks » Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:40 pm

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Savannah wrote:It sounds freaky & wrong, so you need to do it.
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