Passenger Pigeon

John James Audobon wrote of the passenger pigeon in 1844 in The Birds of America:

"The Multitudes of wild pigeons in our woods are astonishing. Indeed, after having viewed them so often, and under so many circumstances, I even new feel inclined to pause, and assure myself that what I am going to relate is fact. Yet I have seen it all, and that too in the company of persons who, like myself, were struck in amazement."

"In the autumn of 1813, I left my house at Henderson (Kentucky), on the banks of the Ohio, on my way to Louisville. In passing over the barrens a few miles beyond Hardensburgh, I observed the pigeons flying from northeast to southwest, in greater numbers than I though I had ever seen them before, and feeling an inclination to count the flocks that might pass within the reach of my eye in one hour, I dismounted, seated myself on an eminence, and began to mark with my pencil, making a dot for every flock that passed. In a short time finding the task which I had undertaken impracticable, as the birds poured in in countless multitudes, I rose, and counting the dots then put down, found that 163 had been made in twenty-one minutes. I travelled on, and still met more the farther I proceeded. The air was literally filled with pigeons: the light of noonday was obscured as by an eclipse; the dung fell in spots, not unlike melting flakes of snow; and the continued buzz of wings had a tendency to lull my senses to repose."

"Whilst waiting for dinner at young's inn at the confluence of salt river with the Ohio, I saw, at my leisure, immense legions still going by, with a front reaching far beyond the Ohio oh the west, and the beech-wood forests directly on the east of me. Not a single bird alighted; for not a nut or acorn was that year to be seen in the neighborhood..."

"Before sunset I reached Louisville, distant from Hardensburgh fifty-five miles, the pigeons were still passing in undiminished number, and continued to do so for three days in succession. The people were all in arms. The banks of the Ohio were crowded with men and boys, incessantly shooting at the pilgrims, which there flew lower as they passes the river. Multitudes were thus destroyed. For a week or more, the population fed on no other flesh than that of pigeons, and talked of nothing but pigeons."

The passenger pigeon was abundant in Southern Michigan, and especially Ohio.