Birds of Arkansas


Arthur H. Howell

U. S. Dept. of Agriculture

Biological Survey Bulletin No. 38

Gov. Printing Office © 1911. Page 35


The wild pigeon, once enormously abundant over a large part o the eastern US, is now practically if now wholly exterminated. I occurred in Arkansas as a migrant and winter resident . In 1883 Prof. Harven reported it very plentiful in winter at Fayetteville, and in 1889, Pleas noted the arrival at Clinton on April 9 of three flocks, numbering in all 36 birds. Mr. L. R. Morphew mentions the occurrence of a small flock of pigeons near Hot Springs about 1892- the last ones seen in that vicinity. The last stronghold of these birds seems to have been in the extreme northwest part of Arkansas. The last shipment received by one game dealer of St. Louis, came from Siloam Springs, Benton County, about 1893, and Mr. O. Widmann informs me that as late as 1902 another St. Louis dealer received 12 dozen pigeons from Rogers, in the same county.


Taken from " Arkansas Birds "

Their Distribution and Abundance,1986,pp 402 pages


Douglas A. James and Joseph C. Neal.

Passenger Pigeon data on page 198

PASSENGER PIGEON, Ectopistes migratorius (Linnaeus)
Extinct. Once locally common to abundant in winter.

Passenger Pigeons did not nest in Arkansas, but they were very common and locally abundant in winter. Traveling in the St. Francis River region of northeastern Arkansas in 1751, Bossu (1771) saw huge numbers: "You see, in the day-time, whole clouds of turtle-doves or wood- pigeons . . ." Chronologically, the earliest records for the state involve the bones that have often been found in archeological sites (see Chapter ~). There are also a few migration dates for Arkansas (Schorger 1955, Howell 1911), and these show that the birds were present here from fall through winter into spring. They seemed to have arrived as early as October and departed by April. As late as 1883, Passenger Pigeons were still "very plentiful in winter around Fayetteville (Howell 1911, Roberts et al. 1942). West of Fayetteville a man netted 2000 Passenger Pigeons and shipped them off to Boston (Schorger 1955), an event showing how large numbers were destroyed in a small period of time. Another such event occurred in White County where in 1879 hunters accidentally set a fire that destroyed a large pigeon roost including many birds (Bartsch 1917). Near the White River in northeastern Arkansas, Featherstonhaugh (1835) saw "incredible quantities of wild pigeons. . . flocks of them many miles long.., their swift motion creating a wind, and producing a rushing and startling sound
." Techniques that resulted in the wholesale slaughter of these flocks in large roosts included the use of guns, clubs, and nets. At Wattensas in Lonoke County millions of pigeons once roosted in blackjack oaks (Robinson 1931): "The writer has seen entire wagon loads of these birds slaughtered in one night for food. Another roost at Old Brownsville in Prairie County contained millions of birds in an area of four square miles, and here too the birds were slaughtered. This rate of slaughter helps to explain why the birds became virtually extinct by 1900.
There were some doubtful records for Arkansas as late as 1906, but the last one confirmed was in 1899: "During Christmas week 1899, a merchant in Little Rock received with some quail a male passenger pigeon that had been shipped from Cabot, Arkansas. This bird was placed on display for several days . . (Schorger 1955).

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